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Heads of Southeast Asian law enforcement gather in Bangkok to address regional drug challenges


Bangkok (Thailand), 27 November 2017 - The 41st meeting of the Heads of Narcotic Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) for Asia and the Pacific has started in Bangkok to discuss issues of drug production, supply, and use. Set to run for four days, the conference brings together senior law enforcement, public security, United Nations and partner organization officials to assess the situation and discuss associated strategies and operational responses, and to consider progress implementing the recommendations of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem or UNGASS.

There has been some progress disrupting the supply of, and demand for, some illicit drugs in the region over recent years, but the regional drug market has also rapidly evolved and there is a need to consider progress and future direction. Whilst Asia has long been an epicentre for the cultivation of opium and the production of heroin, rapid and continuous expansion in the manufacture and consumption of synthetic drugs means that now more than ever cross-border solutions are essential to combating this criminal enterprise.

It is no coincidence that where instability and insecurity flourish, so too does organized crime. Transnational organized criminals benefit from the very instability they create, by taking advantage of regional insecurity and porous borders, and continuing to generate vast profits from an illicit drug trade that harms millions of citizens across the region.

Criminal organizations thrive in regions and populations without access to reliable law enforcement or an existence away from the illicit drug trade. Discussions during the conference will help HONLEA members to share the knowledge they have gained as they continue to work together in increasing security and improving operational cooperation to counter the illicit drug trade, while addressing demand.

Regional Representative of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, noted that "the leadership gathered for HONLEA Asia Pacific recognize that the safety and security of their countries are connected to the safety and security of other countries in the region, and that they cannot continue with business as usual given the changes underway in the regional drug market. By improving information sharing and coordinating approaches to enforcement and to the reduction of demand and associated health impacts in the region, we are hopeful that countries of the region will be better positioned to disrupt the business model of transnational organized crime groups and ensure a better future for their citizens."

The Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) Asia - Pacific is a subsidiary body of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which is the central policymaking body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters. UNODC holds HONLEA meetings annually and in three different regions: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a global leader in promoting the rule of law and helping countries to deal with challenges related to illicit drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism. The Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific works with partners throughout the region to provide research, expertise, and assistance in developing both law enforcement and development-oriented responses to the trafficking and use of illicit drugs.

Click here to learn more about the UNODC Regional Programme for Southeast Asia .

Click here to learn more about UNODC's work on drugs and precursors