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United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – Regional Conference: ASEAN 2025 Synchronising the Economic and Security Agendas

Bangkok, Thailand 2-3 May 2018

Amid changing transnational organized crime and security threats, UNODC and the Government of Thailand organized a high-level conference on border management and security across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. 200 participants, representing ASEAN Member States, development banks and the United Nations, gathered in Bangkok on the 2nd and 3rd of May 2018.  Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister of Thailand, Prajin Juntong, opened the conference.

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L to R – Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific,Mr Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Mr Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister for Transport of Thailand and Ambassador Suriya Chindawongse, Director General of ASEAN Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Trade flows within Southeast Asia have quadrupled over the past decade and are estimated to reach US$ 375 billion per year by 2025. Similarly, infrastructure is being connected and planned to facilitate fast and efficient cross-border movements. In parallel to these positive achievements, the criminal economy of East and Southeast Asia is growing, with conservative estimates of the value of transnational organised crime revenues exceeding US$ 100 billion annually - more than the gross domestic product of several ASEAN Member States.

There are noticeable changes underway in the region, including a significant increase in synthetic drug production and trafficking, growing timber and wildlife trafficking, as well as indications of new human trafficking and migrant smuggling patterns.  Also speaking at the event, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas said: "As ASEAN integration continues and accelerates, the disparities between countries of the region are becoming more obvious, and this includes significant differences in capacities to manage borders. The problem is that transnational organised crime takes advantage of disparities and vulnerabilities."  The high-level conference is the fourth on border management organized by Thailand and UNODC, and it builds on recent strategic discussions related to the Association's economic and security integration.

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Captain Martin A. Sebastian RMN (R), Senior Fellow and Centre Head, Centre for Maritime Security and Diplomacy (MSD) was invited to speak at the event. He elaborated on the Border Management effort for east Sabah under the KESBAN at Sea project (Keselamatan dan Pembangunan), conducted in collaboration with the State Government, National Security Council and University Malaysia Sabah. 

 

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Archive photo from the KESBAN at Sea project.

 

The reports from the projects have been uploaded on MIMA’s website. MIMA has submitted the findings of the project to the Sabah State Government.

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Workshop Reports from the Multi Stakeholder Consultations in Sabah – Economy, Socio-Politics, Marine Environment and Defence-Security

 

Since 2015, UNODC started collaborating with Thailand on border management while also scaling-up technical assistance to Member States with a view to securing borders from crime. UNODC now supports 76 border liaison office locations across the Mekong region and will be expanding the network to other parts of Southeast Asia.

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Capt. Martin with Jeremy Douglas

 

Solutions to secure borders - land, maritime, ports and airports will be the focus of a roadmap for ASEAN border management. The document, to be announced in 2019, will outline actions necessary at the policy, investment, and operational levels to align regional security and economic agendas.

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