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BW Businessworld

Cross Border Crimes Across The World Amount To $1 Trillion Per Year: UNODC Report

Controlling illegal flows of drugs, goods, people and money has increasingly become a challenge that governments cannot address alone

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Addressing India on the second day of Smart Border Management system, Sergey Kapinos, Regional Representative for South Asia, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that border security is an issue that can be sorted by a comprehensive and integrated approach, and the UNODC is happy to support national efforts in this direction in every way.

“The key element to effectively counter any cross-border security challenge—and the one we often miss-- is effective management, including Standard Operating Procedures, coordination, cooperation and information sharing. Hence, the overall system, involving all border security agencies should be monitored, assessed and audited, as the crux of the problem in many cases lies in inter agency joints/junctures.”

“Controlling illegal flows of drugs, goods, people and money has increasingly become a challenge that governments cannot address alone, and UNODC offers its technical support to governments in South Asia in this direction,” added Kapinos.

“Terrorism is a most immediate and visible challenge. The ability of terrorist movements like Daesh or Islamic State (ISIS) to attract and radicalize youth from every corner of the earth, including from South Asia is alarming. For instance, it is estimated that 100 – 200 Maldivians have travelled to Syria as foreign fighters both with the Islamic State group and Al Nusra Front. This makes the Maldives one of the top providers of foreign fighters per capita in the world.”

India shares 15,106.7 kms of its boundary with seven nations-Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In addition, India has a coastal boundary of 7,516.6 kms, which includes 5,422.6 kms of coastline in the mainland and 2,094 kms of coastline bordering the islands. The coastline touches 9 states and 2 union territories.

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Kapinos talks about India’s border security issues.

What is India’s current position in terms of Border security with the seven nations it borders?

The UN does not have aggregate statistics about India as regards UNODC mandate areas. The UNODC is embarking on the development of a new regional programme, with a regional threat assessment as its integral part. UNODC will be cooperating with all law enforcement and statistical agencies of India to help in understanding the changing realities and identifying prevailing threats.

What is the biggest security threat India is facing at its borders?

It is difficult to provide ratings of threats without a regional threat assessment, but it is evident that drugs, human trafficking, any kind of irregular migration are definitely among such threats. Right now, Rohingyas are in the focus and it is creating a lot of problems. Proceeding from the geographical position, I may say maritime crime is also a big threat. 90 per cent of global trade is carried out by the sea, hence combating maritime crime is really important as well.

Do you think India is doing everything in terms of combating the border security challenges?

It is difficult to say if India does everything. There has to be a criteria for everything. At this point of time I can say that India is witnessing a lot of improvement in its approaches towards national security and border security. But there is a leeway and room for further improvement, I believe.

Which of the countries, which shares its border with India poses the biggest security threat to it? And what is the way forward?

I have partly answered the question about threats. The precise answer can be provided only after the completion of the regional threat assessment. What immediately comes to my mind is trafficking in drugs and persons. As regards the latter, the largest volumes are across the borders with Nepal and Bangladesh. Much less volumes are between India and Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan. This can be explained by the nature of borders, which are open or porous, with a high density and volume of population.

The only way to effectively address security threats, I believe, is to develop a good strategy with concrete objectives, timelines, benchmarks and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Such a strategy should be based on adequate data, effective analysis and entailing forecasts as for developing trends and processes.

Cooperating with neighbouring countries is also very important to counter cross border crime. Therefore, such UNODC initiatives as the South Asian Regional Intelligence Sharing and Coordination Centre or SARICC are of vital importance.