Asean eyes ‘balanced’ drug campaign with respect for sovereignty

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LEADERS of Southeast Asian nations have recognized the need for a “comprehensive, holistic, balanced” manner in fighting illegal drugs while respecting the sovereign right of countries in deciding the “most appropriate approaches.

In a draft of the chairman’s statement at the 9th Association of Southeast Asian Nations-United Nations (Asea-UN) Summit, leaders of the 10-member regional bloc agreed on the need to address the drug issues by minimizing demand and supply.

The Asean leaders, however, emphasized that law enforcement efforts should be conducted with respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights.

“We reaffirmed that law enforcement efforts in this regard should be conducted with a focus on combating transnational organized crime and with respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights, while recognizing the sovereign right of countries in deciding the most appropriate approaches to address their national drug situations,” the draft statement said.

The Philippine government has been criticized for its campaign against illegal drugs that has been blamed for thousands of extrajudicial killings.

But Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano maintained that the drug war by President Rodrigo Duterte was a necessary instrument to preserve and protect the human rights of all Filipinos.

He also called on other nations to respect the country’s sovereignty.

“The Philippines expects its sovereignty to be respected, and that its democratically-elected government’s assessment of threats and how to go about addressing them shall be accorded preeminence among nations―or at least the benefit of their doubt,” Cayetano said during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York in September.

Asean leaders in a draft statement also reaffirmed the importance of global, regional and national cooperation to address the threats and challenges of global terrorism and violent extremism to the Asean region.

“We agreed on the importance of comprehensive approaches to counter-terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism, in line with the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action for Preventing Violent Extremism,” according to the draft.

In the Plan, the Secretary-General calls for a comprehensive approach encompassing not only essential security-based counter-terrorism measures but also systematic preventive steps to address the underlying conditions that drive individuals to radicalize and join violent extremist groups.

The Plan is an appeal for concerted action by the international community.

It provides more than 70 recommendations to member-states and the United Nations System to prevent the further spread of violent extremism.

In the draft statement, Asean leaders also welcomed the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, which was adopted at the 11th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime on September 20, 2017.

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