by Mr. Sandro Calvani, Representative of the United Nations
International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP)
Chairman, distinguished delegates,
It gives me great pleasure to address
this, the Twenty-fourth Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law
Enforcement Agencies, Asia and the Pacific, on behalf of the United
Nations International Drug Control Programme and its Executive Director,
Arlacchi. On his behalf, I would like to express UNDCP’s gratitude to
the Government of the Union of Mynamar for hosting the Asia/ Pacific
HONLEA this year, and to welcome you all to Yangon.
Over the following four days you will
have the opportunity to examine matters of considerable urgency. They
are matters of importance for the countries of the region and for many
other countries around the world.
This urgency is reflected in the topics
identified in your provisional agenda. Global production of illicit
opium has risen sharply in the last two years. The principal contributor
to this increase being Afghanistan, who doubled its production in 1999
compared with previous year. (10% down for year 2000 compared with year
With this doubling of
production, supply has become much greater than the traditional ‘Western’ and
surrounding regional markets can absorb. We are starting to see the movement of
‘Golden Crescent’ heroin to south east Asia region, adding to the availability
of heroin derived from local production in countries of this region, and
compounding the difficulties faced by law enforcement and social services to
suppress the trafficking and abuse of this addictive scourge. This situation
merits the use of the word ‘urgent’.
Additionally as a region you
face a growing threat from the manufacture and abuse of amphetamine type
stimulants that pose as great a threat to your communication as heroin abuse.
Last month in Bangkok Government
for ASEAN and China agreed to a Joint Regional Plan to Achieve a Drug-Free ASEAN
The ten ASEAN governments and
the People’s Republic of China endorsed a plan aiming at eliminating or
drastically reducing the problems of illicit drug production, trafficking and
abuse in the region by the year 2015. This decision has been supported by more
than 30 governments and 15 International Organizations in a political
declaration adopted by delegates to an International Congress held at the UN
Conference Centre in Bangkok.
The International Congress
entitled “In Pursuit of a Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 Sharing the Vision, Leading
the Change” had been jointly convened by Royal Thai Government, ASEAN and
the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP). The
Congress had the result of rising concern of the ASEAN leaders about the drug
problems of the region which had aggravated in recent years due to the rapid
spread of newly emerging drugs including amphetamine-type stimulants(ATS).
In endorsing the Plan of Action,
entitled ACCORD-ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to
Dangerous Drugs.”the ASEAN Governments and China have agreed to
strengthen coordination of their efforts in four major areas of activity:
to promote public awareness
of the dangers of drugs and adequate responses within their societies:
to address drug abuse and
related HIV problems among injecting drug users through improved data
collection, preventive and treatment programmes and the sharing of
to attack illicit production
and trafficking through the strengthening of law enforcement efforts and
international cooperation and the development of up-to- date legislation and
other control measure; and
to eliminate illicit drug
crops through alternative development programmes and related community
Key elements of the Plan of
Action are intended to give China and the ASEAN states as well as other
governments and organizations supporting the exercise full “ownership”
of the process in pursuit of a Drug-Free ASEAN. These include target dates for
specific actions and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to measure the
progress of all drug control activities in the region.
During a statement at the
International Congress, UN Under-Secretary-General and ODCCP Executive Director
Pino Arlacchi lauded the efforts to develop a Drug-Free ASEAN and pledged the
full cooperation support of his organization. International support will be
crucial for the success of Action Plan.It is, therefore, particularly
significant that, in the Political Declaration, the governments participating in
the International Congress committed themselves to consider contributing
financial support through the existing mechanisms of grants to the United
Nations and ASEAN which would report every year on the funds invested in the
execution of the plan.
It is easy to limit our concern
to the trafficking of the drugs themselves. But we also must look a little
deeper to understand the full extent of the risk posed to the region.
The highest profits in the drug
market are generated not at the production end and not at the level of the
retail sales to the addict, but rather at the stage of trafficking. The
traffickers will go to extreme measures to ensure these profits. In the eyes of
the drug trafficker, a bribe to a law enforcement officer is a small price to
pay for safe passage of the merchandise.
Bribery is a form of corruption.
It is highly contagious once it takes root in a given country. Corruption
impedes development. Basic services become available only to those who have the
money to buy them.The gap between rich and poor increases. In extreme cases,
even an entire national economy is threatened when corruption permeates every
level of society.
ODCCP has launched a Global
programme against Corruption aimed at providing participating governments the
advice and assistance they need to set up effective anti-corruption
institutions. It goes without saying that countries which suffer from high
volumes of drug traffic must be especially vigilant corruption.
Drug traffickers are looking for
profit. That is their principal motive. The profits in many cases provide the
cash needed for the purchase of arms by groups that seek to destabilise
leglitimate government. In today’s world the greatest threat to peace and
prosperity is no longer inter-state war. It comes instead from organised
non-state sector actors who resort to violence, crime and terror to achieve
their ends. The link between drug trafficking and overall security is a very
Drug trafficking and other forms
of organised crime depend upon money laundering to convert their profits to
useable wealth. In this age of world wide electronic transfers, criminal use of
banking systems has reached a level that defies comprehension. A single case
last year involved the laundering of criminal proceeds in Russia through a New
York bank involved as much as $US 7 billion.A figure greater than the GDP of a
third of the members of the United Nations.
Asia is vulnerable to money
laundering. Legislation and regulation in a number of countries are inadequate
to protect their banking systems from criminal misuse. There are off-shore
banking centres within this region that do not yet meet the acceptable
international regulatory standards.
Both official and public opinion
are reacting to the unprecedented growth in the handling of dirty money. The
threat to legitimate economic activity has become too large to tolerate. The
ODCCP Global Programme against Money Laundering offers assistance to governments
which want to improve their regulatory systems. A recently launched initiative
called the Offshore Forum is specially designed to give an opportunity to
offshore banking centres to ensure that their banking sectors act fully within
agreed international standards.
As I mentioned earlier, when we
reflect upon the subject of drug trafficking we quickly arrive at issues like
those I have just mentioned – corruption, organised crime, money laundering,
terrorism and threats to peace and security. When we look back over twenty four
years of HONLEA meetings, initiated to respond to the threat posed by drug
trafficking, we see the issues that successive meetings have addressed, grow and
diversify. Important issues such as the prevention of diversion of precursor
chemicals have been added. Even traditional problems must be examined in the
light of today globalized society.
Yet one fact has not changed.
The reason we meet here today, and why our colleagues have met similarly before
us-the reason that national and international drug control exist- is ultimately
the need to protect individual human beings from drug abuse. 24 years ago Asia
was primarily associated with the production and trafficking of illicit drugs.
There was little talk of drug abuse itself- of demand. That was seen as a
problem of western countries.
As you know better than I, that
situation has changed. Some of the highest rates of heroin used in the world are
now found in a country within this region. The social or cultural protective
systems which various countries thought would protect them from drug abuse have
one by one crumbled. This is the final element of the alarm that is being
In sum, drug trafficking and
abuse are now everyone’s problem. This was the spirt which prevailed at the 1998
Special Session of the UN General assembly on drugs. This high degree of
consensus enabled the Special Session to take decisions on a wide range of drug
related issues. Even more importment, targets were established and deadlines
Now two years on, this HONLEA
will examine progress in the implementation of these sdecisions within this
Over the years, these meetings
of HONLEA have established a pattern of work based upon mutual respect and
cooperation. These principles will be the basis for success in meeting the
objectives set by the Special Session.
The situation the Asia/Pacific
region faces underlines the importance of cooperation. As we look to the future,
it is encouraging to see the increase in cooperative ventures. The work being
carried out within the Asean context, the Six Country MOU agreement of the
Governments of the Mekong Region, the strengthening of bi-lateral cooperation
between countries of the region through signed agreements of commitment, plus of
course of the region through signed agreements of commitment, plus of course the
positive and practical approach taken by the countries of the Asia and Pacific
region. ODCCP is pleased to be associated with all these initiatives.
I will finish by taking the
opportunity to inform you of an event that will take place next month in
Palermo, Italy over 12-15 December, that will have a significant, and positive
impact upon your efforts as law enforcement officers.
I refer to the high level
conference that will precede the opening for signing of the United Nations
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
This new international
instrument has over-arching goals.
It will enhance international
cooperation by providing the framework to overcome differences among legal
systems, which in the past have blocked mutual assistance. And second, it will
set the standards that domestic legislation must meet to effectively combat
In support of the Convention are
Protocols that address the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking in persons,
especially women and children.
A pillar of the new Convention
will be its provisions on the confiscation of illegal assets, on the elimination
of bank secrecy and on witness protection programmes. All are vital tools for a
pro-active strategy against those who traffic in illicit drugs and would profit
from the proceeds of organized crime.
I return to my opening words,
the work of this HONLEA over the next four days is very important, both for your
countries and the rest of the world. The situation you face is difficult. It is
also complex. There are no easy solutions. The starting point for finding
solutions is precisely the type of practical consultation and cooperation that
has been the basis for the work of successive HONLEA’s over the past years.
On behalf of ODCCP, its
Executive Director and every member of the Programme, I wish this meeting every
success and look forward to the coming days deliberations and recommendations.
Thank you all for your attention.