Thank You Madam Chair,
Let me first of all express our thanks to Mr. Sandeep Chawla, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, for his informative presentation yesterday. The Maldives also extends its appreciation to the Secretary-General for the reports provided under these two agenda items and welcome their recommendations.
We further acknowledge the important work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in advancing the interests of Member States in fighting transnational organized crime, strengthening the rule of law and countering drug trafficking.
Having a tourism-driven economy in a strategic location in Indian Ocean, the Maldives remains extremely vulnerable to drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. Although the Maldives does not produce, cultivate nor manufacture drugs, its close proximity to major transshipment routes used for illegal trafficking has made the problem all the more serious for my Government in the recent past.
It is our firm belief that the global fight against illicit narcotics should remain focused on protecting human security through enhanced public health.
In the Maldives, treating the victims of drug dependence as criminals has proven to be unsustainable. For this reason, we welcome and support the recommendations of the Secretary-General to treat drug dependence as a health disorder rather than a crime. The Maldives has also made extensive use of available empirical and analytical data such as the annual World Drug Reports, to support recent programmes addressing the human development vulnerabilities, and social consequences of drug abuse. The Maldives National Drug Use Survey 2012 which was conducted in collaboration with UNODC and civil society provides key indicators to identify trends and assess behavioral characteristics associated with drug abuse in the country.
As a Small Island Developing State in its early stages of democratic consolidation, the Maldives continues to face a number of challenges in institutionalising the necessary frameworks to ensure that accountability, transparency and the rule of law are established.
During the High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law in September this year, the Maldives announced a number of commitments towards strengthening the rule of law, both at national and international levels. Relevant to today’s agenda item, the Maldives has pledged to accede to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols by 2014.
The Maldives is already a party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The Government has initiated a gap analysis of the Convention to be completed within the domestic legal framework, with a view to formulating a national strategy on the full implementation of its provisions by 2014.
One of the most challenging dimensions of combating transnational organized crime for the Maldives has been countering trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. The Maldives condemns in the strongest terms those participating in such deplorable activities, and is dedicated to systematically addressing this issue with the seriousness it deserves. In this regard, the Government has already outlined its commitment to accede to the relevant international instruments, and to enact appropriate domestic legislation in order to combat this crime.
My delegation fully supports the work of the UNODC in collaborating closely with all interested parties on a number of important areas, especially on capacity building. We are confident that UNODC will remain fully engaged with the Maldives, as we move towards full and effective implementation of various instruments to combat transnational organized crime.
UNODC’s activities in South Asia are much appreciated by all countries in the region, especially its collaboration with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on drug law enforcement and technical cooperation. We would like to express our hope that cooperation at the regional level between SAARC and UNODC will be further strengthened in the near future, and is confident that the regional programme for South Asia will be finalized sometime this year.
Maritime piracy is another area of major concern to my Government and other countries in the Indian Ocean region, which we believe should be addressed immediately. We support all international efforts to combat piracy. My delegation is pleased to note that the 17th SAARC Summit hosted by the Maldives in November of 2011 took an important decision to initiate work in South Asia towards combating piracy.
In conclusion, Madam Chair, my delegation believes, it is only through close cooperation and partnerships that we can achieve our collective goals in deterring transnational organized crime and countering the illicit trafficking of drugs in our communities.
We count on the United Nations and the international community to promote such partnerships.
I thank you Madam Chair.