Statement by Mr


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

by 2015.

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

real one.

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

were set.

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

organised crime.

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.