Transnational organized crime is undermining security and governance in the Pacific: United Nations report

The report also identifies some factors that facilitate illicit transnational activities affecting the region. “The Pacific is increasingly integrated and connected with other regions, especially Asia, but also the Americas,” said Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. “Connecting with the rest of the world can be positive from a development perspective, but it also means that the region is more susceptible to accompanying crime and security challenges.”

Situated between major sources and destinations of illicit goods, Pacific island countries are increasingly used as a transit point. “Methamphetamine and precursor chemicals from Asia, and cocaine from the Americas, are trafficked to and through Pacific island countries en route to Australia and New Zealand, and other destinations” said Mr. Inshik Sim, UNODC analyst. “There is also evidence of ‘spillover’ of illicit drugs into Pacific island countries. They do not have the infrastructure or programmes to deal with illicit drug use.”

The report also examines illegal fisheries and logging in the Pacific, highlighting how related illicit activities and trafficking threaten sustainability and the livelihoods of people and communities in the region.  “Organized crime profit from the environment by illegally taking and trafficking resources, and they do not care about how devastating it can be for a small state,” said Mr. Douglas.  He also noted that “Pacific island countries rely on fisheries and forests for more than just GDP; they need them for basic survival.”

Exploitation of environmental resources of Pacific island countries can also be linked to human trafficking in the region. “Trafficking in persons for labour exploitation sometimes occurs in logging camps and on commercial fishing vessels operating in the Pacific,” said Ms. Andie Fong Toy, Deputy Secretary General of the PIFS. She also pointed out that the geographical location of Pacific island countries makes them a possible transit point for smuggling of migrants and trafficking of people into Australia, New Zealand and the United States, including with falsified passports and travel documents.

In addition to analysis of cases and trends related to illicit flows in the region, the report recommends that the region update related laws and policies, develop strategic data and research, and build capacity for international cooperation and operations. “We have been working with countries and regional institutions in the Pacific in recent years, but it is clear that this needs to be scaled-up,” said Mr. Douglas. “What we are proposing fits with the Framework of Pacific Regionalism adopted by the PIFS, and we will support the region to respond to security and development threats posed by transnational organized crime”.

 

 

The full report is available at http://www.unodc.org/southeastasiaandpacific/

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Chandu Bhandari Regional Programme Adviser
UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific

chandu.bhandari@unodc.org Mobile: +66 96 602 8361