The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) held the first peer-to-peer workshop on regional cooperation mechanisms in Southeast Asia for intelligence and law enforcement officers from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Philippines in Phnom Penh from 21 to 22 November 2022.
The event was conducted within the framework of the project CONTACT – Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in Southeast Asia – funded by Global Affairs Canada.
The workshop, attended by 21 practitioners from various government security agencies in the three countries, was an opportunity to exchange national experiences, lessons learned and good practices related to countering radiological and nuclear trafficking.
At the plenary, participating authorities highlighted current capabilities and challenges to regional cooperation and communication channels. They discussed measures to improve existing mechanisms of information and intelligence sharing at regional level. National contributions and experiences were complemented with interventions by experts from UNICRI and presentations by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
To facilitate a practical approach and test the knowledge shared, UNICRI also ran a scenario-based discussion drawn from a real-life case which foresaw the deployment of multilateral cooperation at regional level.
Participants actively engaged in all activities and appreciated the scenario-based exercise and group discussions as effective ways to build synergies and partnerships with their regional counterparts.
The organization of the event was facilitated by the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) National Focal Point, Lt. Col. Lyheng Tan, from the General Secretariat of the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiological Weapons (NACW) of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Ung Eang, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Mines and Energy and Vice Chairman of NACW highlighted the long-standing and successful partnership between UNICRI and Cambodia and asked for continuous capacity-building support in the CBRN area.
Ms. Greztelle Gayle Gloria from the Anti-Terrorism Council Program Management Center (ATC-PMC) of the Philippines said: “We are honored to partner with and work hand-in-hand with UNICRI to implement this Project. The guidance series, as part of its role in providing nuclear-security related international support and coordination, is vital in helping us prevent, detect, and respond to malicious acts involving radioactive substances. We have been working closely with UNICRI for the past months to implement trainings and national consultations that have fostered interagency coordination among our country's relevant agencies. And today, let us take this opportunity to share, cooperate, coordinate, and exchange information among various government agencies and stakeholders from the Southeast Asia Region”.
Mr. Anouxay Phimmasone from the Fire Prevention Police Department of Lao PDR added: “Participating in this regional peer-to-peer workshop is a good opportunity to discuss and share lessons learned with other Southeast Asian countries to prevent the malicious trafficking of radiological materials in the region effectively. We are looking forward to continuing working closely with UNICRI and our project partners towards the fulfillment of this goal”.
In the next weeks, UNICRI will continue supporting intelligence and law enforcement officers from the three countries through different initiatives, including remote coaching and mentorship, and will start developing new ideas for future regional activities to be held in 2023.
CONTACT – Southeast Asia aims to enhance the capacities of nuclear security stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Philippines, and Viet Nam to devise and carry out operations in order to thwart radiological and nuclear (RN) trafficking attempts, as well as to foster regional cooperation and communication among the four partner countries. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program.