BALI – In a move which underlines the increasing threat of illicit drugs, several developing and developed countries have agreed to contribute more financial resources and technical assistance to combat the drugs problem in the ASEAN region and China.

Myanmar, which traditionally receives assistance from the donors of the developed countries to fight the drug problem, has now committed to contribute financial resources under the ASEAN and China Cooperation Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD process).

“We are committed to the process and we are ready to contribute to ACCORD,” said Pol. Col. Hkam Awng, Head of the Myanmar Delegation in the first meeting of the ACCORD Plan of Action Task Forces which was held in Bali, Indonesia on the 12 -14 November 2001.

Thailand too said they were prepared to increase contribution for regional anti-drug projects up to US$20,OOO. “We have also taken the initiative to allocate the forfeiture of the assets of drug traffickers for the drug fight,” said Ms. Laxanachantorn Laohaphan, Director-General of the Department of International Organisations of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government of Thailand is also prepared to contribute technical assistance, she added.

The meeting which was billed to be an operational meeting to put the flesh to the skeleton of the ACCORD Plan of Action was attended by some 100 participants from 17 countries and 5 international organizations. There were also representatives from local and regional non-governmental organizations. It was organized by the National Narcotics Coordinating Board (BKNN) of Indonesia, the ASEAN Secretariat and the Regional Centre of East Asia and the Pacific, United Nations International Drug Control Programme Office in Bangkok.

The Asian Development Bank and the United Nations/ESCAP confirmed their support to ACCORD as they recognized the narcotics problem as an essential requirement for sustainable human development and fight against poverty.

Several partners which have traditionally contributed substantially to the fight against drugs in the region, both bilaterally and multilaterally also expressed support to the ACCORD process and agreed to consider the needs of the ACCORD Plan of Action.

“We are impressed with the intention and the cooperation among all the participants,” said Mr. Douglas Rasmusssen, Director, Narcotics Affairs Section, at the American Embassy in Bangkok during the plenary session. He added that he would refer the proposals made at the meeting to Washington for a firm decision.

Japan which is currently in the throes of a world wide recession, came out strongly in favour of the plan. “Japan appreciates the ACCORD process which we believe is a significant step in promoting cooperation in the drug area,” said Mr. Keiji Ide, Director, Regional Policy Division, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. He also said that Japan would continue its support for drug control projects in the future.

Several ASEAN nations such as Malaysia and Singapore said they would continue with existing arrangements to the drug fight including bilateral initiatives.

The meeting also agreed to strengthen cooperation among ASEAN and China on issues ranging from demand reduction, advocacy, law enforcement and alternative development. The task forces on the different issues will meet every year to discuss developments in their respective areas. The task forces will also facilitate day to day work against the drug scourge.