16 Mar 2019

High-Level Thematic Roundtable at the 62nd Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria - Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs

Safeguarding the future: Enhancing our efforts to respond to the world drug problem through strengthening international cooperation, including means of implementation, capacity-building and technical assistance, on the basis of common and shared responsibility

 

INTRODUCTION

 

  1. At the outset, on behalf of the people of Singapore, I would like to convey our deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand for the tragic loss of lives in the city of Christchurch that took place just hours ago. We stand in solidarity with you. May you remain strong and united in this time of grief.

     

  2. Next, I would like to congratulate, and thank everyone who has been involved in the negotiations and drafting of the Ministerial Declaration of the 62nd Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). In the global fight against drugs, it is critical that we have a consensus on the way forward and that we are committed to it as an international community.

     

  3. This important 62nd CND is taking place against the backdrop of a worsening global drug situation. Singapore calls on the international community to strengthen cooperation. Our two main priorities should be to check the global supply of drugs and to seriously reduce demand.

     

  4. Singapore takes its obligations under the international drugs conventions seriously. They are the cornerstone of the international drug control system and provide a comprehensive framework for joint action to counter the global drug scourge. Each country must keep searching for new and unique ways to address the drug problem, but let us never forget our obligations to the international community. It is the only way we can win this war together.

     

  5. This means universal and full implementation of the three conventions and their provisions, as well as of the joint commitments of the Ministerial Declaration of the 62nd CND that we have just made. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to act with conviction and urgency.

 

STRENGTHENING REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

 

5.         Colleagues may be aware that Singapore is big on harm prevention. This is ultimately aimed at checking the supply of and demand for drugs. What has been effective for us? Prevention education, deterrent laws, robust enforcement and effective rehabilitation and aftercare with abstinence as a goal. They are not rocket science but they do require strong political will, consistent and persistent actions. The results speak for themselves and strengthen public support over time.

 

6.         We have also been working closely with our international counterparts to disrupt networks of transnational drug syndicates. Last year, in an INTERPOL-led operation codenamed “Ops Lionfish”, we participated in a combined seizure of more than 55 tonnes of illicit drugs across 93 countries. Within ASEAN, the ASEAN-NARCO Center and the Airport and Seaport Interdiction Taskforces have enhanced our operational edge to disrupt the network of regional drug syndicates.

 

8.         To intercept illegal drugs and precursor chemicals being trafficked along the Mekong River, our regional counterparts have set up a Safe Mekong Cooperation Centre to coordinate drug suppression operations in that region. Although Singapore is not a Mekong country, we contributed to this effort by sponsoring training courses and attaching our officers to the centre to share their experiences. We will also donate patrol boats to upgrade the Centre’s patrolling capabilities along the Mekong River. 

 

9.         ASEAN contributed constructively to the successful negotiation of the UNGASS Outcome Document, which is aligned to our regional aim of securing our communities against illicit drugs. ASEAN efforts continued after the Outcome Document was adopted in 2016. Within the same year, ASEAN delivered our first joint statement at the CND and UNGASS which reaffirmed our commitment to keep our communities free from drugs. Just last year, Singapore, on behalf of ASEAN, delivered another Joint Statement at the 5th CND Intersessional Meeting to state our collective position that use of controlled drugs has to be done within the framework of the three international drug conventions.

 

CAPACITY BUILDING

 

10.       Singapore’s cooperation efforts are not limited to just operational exchanges or policy coordination within ASEAN. We value opportunities for capacity building, training exchanges and knowledge sharing because they allow like-minded colleagues to network and promote best practices.

 

12.      An example of a training collaboration and capacity building is the Integrated Narcotics Enforcement Programmes (INEP) which Singapore co-hosted with the Australian Federal Police. Since 2000, we have conducted 16 runs of Integrated Narcotics Enforcement Programmes and trained more than 350 participants from across the Southeast region. 

 

13.      When our region faced a common emerging problem of new psychoactive substances (NPS), Singapore and the UNODC piloted a training programme entitled “Regional Law Enforcement in New Psychoactive Substances”, for our ASEAN counterparts and the Pacific Island countries in 2017. Through this programme, participants gained a deeper understanding of new psychoactive substances and the risks they pose, and ways to mitigate these risks.

 

14.       Singapore continues to work with the UNODC to identify training opportunities that are aligned to our harm prevention strategy. Last year, we collaborated with the UNODC to host a joint regional training workshop on correctional drug rehabilitation for 63 officials from 16 Asian and Pacific Island countries. We intend to work with UNODC again this year to host a similar workshop on drug prevention.

 

15.       Singapore also works closely with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society and regional intergovernmental organisations, such as the Colombo Plan, to tackle the drug scourge. Our international collaboration efforts will continue this year, with a Colombo Plan International Conference and the 3rd Asia-Pacific Forum Against Drugs.

 

CONCLUSION

 

16.       Mr Chair, in conclusion, Singapore believes the drug problem remains a clear and present danger to us all. It is not an exaggeration to say that we are facing a global threat of epic proportions that must be met with equal and unambiguous resolve by the international community.

 

17.       Every day, we try to keep our children safe from drugs. They have the right to live in a drug-free world. Humanity must not lose the war to protect this right.

 

18.       Singapore wants to safeguard our future and will continue to strengthen our regional and international cooperation efforts with anyone that shares our resolve.  We will continue to be a constructive partner with the UNODC and other international organisations, to carry out our common and shared responsibility in fighting the world drug problem. You can count on it. Thank You.

 

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