The UN is looking to Canberra to back Myanmar’s programs on law reform and a crackdown on drug trafficking.
The United Nations is calling on Australia to back a $US45 million ($A48.69 million) program in Myanmar (Burma) to reform law enforcement and suppress drug trafficking and transnational crime.
The plea is set to be raised by the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) executive director, Yury Fedotov, in talks in Canberra in September with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and other officials.
Australia is a key regional contributor to UNODC programs, including current research by the University of Queensland on migrant smuggling across the region, with a report set for release later this year.
The UNODC Myanmar program comes amid fears over rising criminality in the country that is seen as “undermining development efforts, increasing human insecurity and threatening the peace process,” according to UNODC regional representative Jeremy Douglas.
The four-year program to run to 2017 is initially backed by the United States, but Douglas says the UNODC is seeking other sources of funds to meet the target.
“We are in talks with five to six (potential donors). I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with half the budget secured in the half year to year,” Douglas told AAP.
The program covers transnational organised crime, including trafficking in drugs, chemical precursors, and people, as well as environmental crime and border control.
Other areas cover anti-corruption, criminal justice, drugs and programs related to HIV and Aids, and alternative development for opium poppy farmers.
Myanmar is the world’s second largest opium producer behind that of Afghanistan and the largest producer of synthetic drugs in South East Asia.
But the talks in Canberra will also examine the growing threat and vulnerability of transnational crime in the Pacific.
“(The talks) will be mainly about regional crime trends and how to get frameworks (co-operation) working with some of the different countries,” Douglas said.
But he said Australia also appeared to be increasing its bilateral assistance with Myanmar, including on issues of money laundering.
In 2013/14 Australia’s aid program to Myanmar stood at $81.4 million, with a 2014/15 Budget estimate of $90.0 million.
Under the current aid program, Australia has set up the Myanmar-Australia Partnership program covering a range of areas, including financial management, through to health education and agriculture.