A senior official at the Ministry of Interior has called for increased cooperation to tackle the drug problem in the greater Mekong subregion (GMS).

Ministry secretary of state Bun Honn made the remarks while leading a Cambodian delegation to the 14th ministerial meeting of the GMS’s joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) on drug control, held in the Chinese capital Beijing. The gathering marks the 30th anniversary of the MoU establishment.

Honn explained that the issue of drugs impacts social security, economic development and public wellbeing, and requires a unified approach.

“It’s crucial to fortify existing mechanisms and develop new strategies to effectively address the current situation,” he said.

According to Honn, the Kingdom has been proactive in implementing the eighth phase of its anti-drug campaign, initiated in 2017. The operation incorporates a multilateral, multi-sectoral approach in compliance with the sub-regional action plan. It focuses on prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, along with law enforcement measures.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, endorsed the call for strengthening partnerships.

“The Mekong and ASEAN countries already have strategies and agreements in place to curb drug inflow and trafficking. Enhancing these systems and introducing new methods are positive steps,” he said.

He stressed the need for robust law enforcement and internal cooperation within each country to make efforts more effective.

Countries in the region are supported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to implement an action plan on narcotic countermeasures, including bilateral, trilateral and multilateral frameworks for drug seizure, according to details from the session .

The Kingdom has evolved from a transit country with few drug-related activities to a more prominent hub for drug transit, especially from the “Golden Triangle” area, affecting public welfare and social stability, warned Honn.

The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), which represented the government at the meeting, pledged to continue working cooperatively with GMS countries – Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and China – to enhance drug control initiatives.