Check against delivery
Mr. Akira Fujino, UNODC Representative
MOU Senior Officials Committee Meeting
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed an honour and pleasure for me to welcome you all to the 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. I would, first of all, like to thank the Government of China for kindly hosting this Senior Officials Meeting. It is always a pleasure to meet and work with high level delegations from all the signatory countries. Your presence here today reflects an enduring commitment for regional drug control collaboration.
With the first Senior Officials Meeting held in 1993, we collectively launched something which no other region had done before. And the challenge before us today is to decide where to take it tomorrow. That said, I would like to take a moment to reflect briefly on some of our collective achievements and the challenges that remain.
The countries in this region were the first in the world to demonstrate the usefulness of regional cooperation under a MOU scheme, which has become an example to be replicated by other regions of the world. The Sub-regional Action Plan reflects the countriesf long-term commitment to cooperate in all aspects of drug control as well as to meet head on emerging drug control challenges.
We should be proud of our success together in the fields of information exchange and networking, precursor chemicals control, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) control, drug treatment and prevention, cross-border cooperation and training, sustainable alternative development, and the provision of technical and financial assistance.
Current situation and challenges
As a result of successful law enforcement and regulatory actions taken, for instance, there are indications that traffickers are relocating their clandestine ATS laboratory sites and smuggling and diversion routes. Shifting trafficking routes affect all countries, including most recently Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and spread of clandestine manufacture of ATS, particularly methamphetamine, has been uncovered in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Pacific and, most recently, Cambodia. And, as we all know, when drug trafficking patterns and routes change, abuse follows.
Other challenges include:
· the expanding impact of organized crime and diversification of criminal activities across the region – money laundering is linked – also trafficking in human beings
· sustaining the reduction of opium poppy cultivation while at the same time mitigating the potential for a full blown humanitarian crises
· establishing further comprehensive data collection and reporting systems
While there are clear signs that ATS abuse,
especially methamphetamine, is increasing throughout
The way forward
So, where do we go from here, and what is the way forward?
In the past, within the framework of the Sub-regional Action Plan, the UNODC Regional Centre served as a catalyst and coordinator for drug control activities. Then, with the establishment of the MOU Support Project and other initiatives, all partners in the process have taken on increasing ownership of and participation in the future direction of the mechanism.
This year is
the turning point. Today we find ourselves at the end of the first cycle of 12
years after the first Ministerial Meeting in
Enhancing regional cooperation
Enhanced regional cooperation beyond the geography of the Greater Mekong Sub-region would, with advantage, need to be considered, when doing so further benefits the MOU partners because the subject matters call for such broader collaboration. I am pleased to note that this process is already underway on a selected basis via, for instance, the Precursor Control, and the ATS Data Collection projects
This also ties in with feedback we have received from countries on the need to better coordinate and synergize the various regional drug control forums currently underway. Each mechanism has its strengths and limitations and it is up to us to structure our regional collaboration efforts so as to best maximize our resources. Again, I am pleased to note that efforts are already underway via linkages between the MOU, ACCORD, ASEAN Senior Officials Committee, and HONLEA, etc., cross border cooperation and CBT training and regional law enforcement actions, including the joint action against ATS-related crimes initiative.
Thus, one of our challenges is to enhance the current mechanism by moving beyond our geographic boundaries and consider ways to better link with other partners in our work and to address related transnational organized crimes.
While the former mechanism was primarily based upon cooperative activities by MOU member countries through projects with UNODC securing financial support, the current situation, especially as regards funding and fundraising efforts, now necessitates further partnerships not only by UNODC but by all member countries. And given the current reality of intense competition for donor attention, new strategies are required to mobilize resources.
What is required from us at this meeting is nothing less than a new launch to devise a new way of doing business. We have started this already by working hard to enhance the participation and ownership by all countries in the revision and presentation of the Sub-regional Action Plan. Further renewed efforts and commitments are required. Business as usual will no longer serve us well.
As the MOU is at a crossroads, and in order to keep this unique sub-regional drug control mechanism relevant for the next 14 years, I wish you all the best in the upcoming deliberations over the next several days.