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UNODC Executive Director Forges Bonds in the War on Drugs in the Golden Triangle

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UNODC Executive Director Forges Bonds in the War on Drugs in the Golden Triangle

UNODC, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Thailand are working together to combat narcotics trafficking in the Golden Triangle.

Recently, the UNODC Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office organized a trip to the Golden Triangle region near Chiang Rai on March 31-April 1 with the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation to review the drug situation in Thailand and the Mekong subregion.

One of the efforts the group saw was a royal initiative as part of the Doi Tung Development project, which has been transforming opium plantations into fertile land for highland crops including cold-climate plants and vegetables, helping hill tribes who depend on agriculture.

Ghada Waly, UNODC’s first female executive director, was present with the group. She has served in the position since February 2020.

According to the executive director, transnational drug trafficking groups are among the most crucial problems that have to be addressed in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Drug use is among the most pressing ones.

Those are issues and challenges at the heart of UNODC’s mandate but are also common and interconnected challenges throughout the region. Therefore, it is essential to be able to count on committed partners like Thailand to support efforts in the region, including through South-South cooperation (the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South),” Ghada Waly said.

UNODC’s commitment to sustainable development

UNODC’s Regional Programme for Southeast Asia and the Pacific is one of the most critical missions during this trip.

By focusing on threats such as synthetic drugs and trafficking, she said this program supports tailored responses to organized crime, terrorism, corruption, and drugs in the region.

In addition, she conveyed UNODC’s commitment to sustainable development and security. In addition to learning about other perspectives, she would like to receive feedback on how to develop responses that align with national and regional priorities.

“We have been able to recognize what Thailand is doing well — such as the passing of the new narcotics law — as well as identify areas where UNODC can do more to assist and share lessons between countries and communities in different parts of the region and world,” she said.

She also expressed grave concern about the drug situation in the Golden Triangle.

There have been many factors contributing to the drug trade, but the fact remains that sophisticated organized crime groups exploit the region behind the drug business.

She says that the Shan State is used for production, as is money laundering through businesses such as casinos on the Mekong or real estate, as well as illicit access to chemicals for making drugs easily.

UNODC expanding its work with Thailand

In order to disrupt organized crime, it was necessary to focus on precursor chemical trafficking, money laundering, and corruption. On these matters, multilateral and cross-border cooperation was also required.

It is equally important to specifically target the issue of slowing and lowering drug demand by expanding our work with Thailand and the region on prevention, treatment, and health services, as well as on drug policy and justice reforms to reduce the burden on the policing and court systems as well as the overcrowding in prisons.

She said efforts to make a difference require cooperation at all levels, and we have a strong partner in Thailand that can assist.

In addition to this, UNODC welcomed Thailand’s launch of the International Narcotics Control College (INCC), which is intended to provide research and education for students throughout the Mekong area, as well as a research center for narcotic crops.

Currently, the college is under construction. UNODC has provided financial assistance and office supplies for the college.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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