IDPC Advocacy Note - A drug-free ASEAN by 2015: Harmless rhetoric or a dangerous mantra?

18 September 2013

In early September 2013, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a meeting in Brunei Darussalam for ministers with responsibility for drug control issues to discuss the mid-term review of the strategy for a drug-free ASEAN by 2015. As Chairman of the meeting, the Brunei Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office, said in his statement: “We have reaffirmed our determination to resolve and work closely together to realise the vision of a Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 and beyond, realising that combating the drug menace is no longer just the individual responsibility of each ASEAN state, but the collective responsibility of all.”

In emphasising the collective responsibility of ASEAN member states, the Chairman’s remarks reflect the recognition that illicit drug markets do not respect borders – perhaps a heightening concern as border controls are set to become more liberalised in the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. Incidentally, ASEAN’s current drug strategy ends in 2015 and to inform the development of a post-2015 strategy, Ministers announced that the final review of member states’ implementation of the current drug strategy would begin in 2014. Ministers expect that the final review will provide a clear picture of ASEAN’s achievements and gaps in implementing the drug strategy.

In an advocacy note released in 2012, IDPC referred to the regional trends in drug use and supply, which show the futility of focusing drug control efforts on eradicating drug markets. IDPC recommended that ASEAN develop a drug strategy capable of managing the complexity of causes and consequences relating to drug markets, in order to achieve the desired improvements in human security, health and development. These recommendations are consistent with those of expert bodies such as the Global Commission on HIV and the Law (established by the United Nations Development Programme) and the Global Commission on Drug Policy (body of eminent figures promoting informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs).

This briefing aims to provide recommendations for ASEAN member states as they consider approaches to conducting the final review of the ASEAN drug strategy ending in 2015.

The advocacy note is available below in English, Burmese, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Lao.

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