Fighting drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle

Drug trafficking has long been a problem in the Golden Triangle, the region where Thailand’s Chiang Rai province meets Myanmar and Laos. In this blog, Gita Sabharwal, UN Resident Coordinator in Thailand, and Jeremy Douglas, who represents the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, explain how the United Nations and the Thai government are working together to tackle the issue.

“Thailand has made considerable progress in combating the opium trade over recent decades and represents global good practices. UNODC has a long-term partnership with the Thai government and other stakeholders to combat drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle and, from the military base at Doi Chang Mub overlooking Myanmar, joint patrols are conducted on a regular basis to counter trafficking.

However, as the opium trade has declined, the cross-border movement of synthetic drugs, and particularly methamphetamine, has grown substantially.

Link between development and fighting the drugs trade

In our meetings on a recent trip to the province, we were impressed with local efforts to develop the region in a sustainable way. It really struck home how integrally linked development and improving people’s livelihoods are to fighting the drugs trade, and tackling the corrosive effects drug abuse and criminality have on individuals and communities. While there are considerable challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were also inspired by the community resilience and commitment to improve the welfare of all.

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