As Cambodia focuses more energy on efforts to combat illegal drugs, it may be within a few months of signing the three international drug control conventions—a process UN officials thought would take years.
Cambodia is currently one of only two Asian countries that have not ratified the three UN conventions, which dictate common regulations and procedures to combat illegal drug production and trafficking. The other is North Korea.
Ratifying the conventions will help Cambodia attract international funds and political support, said Graham Shaw, program officer for the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. “Any country that’s in the same shopping cart as North Korea is not exactly attractive,” he said.
Signing the treaties will send a signal that Cambodia is serious in its efforts, Shaw said.
When the UN drug office established its first Cambodian office in April, officials hoped Cambodia would be able to ratify one of the conventions within two years and all three within five years. But Cambodian officials have been unexpectedly enthusiastic about the process, which involves passing the conventions through the National Assembly. Shaw said Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng wants to finish the process by the end of December.
That may be a little unrealistic, Shaw said, but “I believe they could do it by the middle of next year. That’s still four years ahead of what we had hoped.”
Once the conventions are signed, their provisions become part of Cambodian law. However, achieving compliance with all of those provisions will be a gradual process, Shaw said.
“What most countries do, and what we’re urging Cambodia to do, is ratify [the conventions] first and then bring all the national instruments up to the required level,” he said. As the conventions move through the National Assembly, Shaw said parliamentarians may come under pressure not to adopt certain provisions, a phenomenon that has occurred in other countries.
In Lebanon, for example, “they accepted all three conventions—except for the parts about money laundering,” Shaw said.