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Participants pose for a family photo

First-ever national workshop and consultations on countering proliferation financing in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Vientiane, Lao PDR -

On 28 and 29 November 2022, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) delivered the first-ever awareness raising workshop on pressing issues, including emerging threats and trends, related to proliferation financing for Lao PDR’s authorities in Vientiane.

The workshop aimed to shed light on the threat posed by proliferation financing activities – conducted by both State and non-state actors – in the country as well as in the Southeast Asian region at large. It also sought to boost participants’ understanding of priority measures to be undertaken to address such vulnerabilities, and to improve compliance with international standards.

Altogether 25 experts from different agencies took part in the event. These included the Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Office; the Ministry of Public Security (including the transnational crimes department); the Ministry of Justice; the Supreme Court; the National Assembly; the Customs Department; the Prosecutor’s Office (including, the criminal investigation division); the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (including, the department of Import and Export); the Office of the Prime Minister; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two-day workshop comprised of both a plenary session with presentations from UNICRI and the Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Office and focus group discussions to further deep dive into some pressing issues. UNICRI’s intervention provided the opportunity to cast the spotlight on an issue that is extremely complex, sensitive and hardly understood in the country and to focus on the analysis of case studies involving the use of cyber-attacks and virtual assets. On the other hand, authorities dwelled on the current legal framework and recent progress vis-à-vis the most relevant international standards. The focus group meetings discussed the importance of conducting a dedicated proliferation financing risk assessment and priority needs in capacity-building, among other issues.

The event was organized and delivered within the framework of the project “Strengthening capacities to identify and mitigate CBRN proliferation financing risks in Southeast Asia”, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Venephet Philathong, Deputy-Director of the Division of the UN Political and Security Affairs of Lao PDR, facilitated the organization of the event.

The participants expressed appreciation for the initiative and asked for additional support in both awareness raising and capacity-building in a thematic area that is still little known at the national level. They requested further assistance, especially in conducting the risk assessment and developing training curricula tailored to the different roles of key stakeholders involved in countering and detecting proliferation financing.

“Strengthening capacities to identify and mitigate chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) proliferation financing risks in Southeast Asia” intends to improve understanding of CBRN proliferation financing risks and to enhance awareness of and compliance with international standards and sanctions. The project stems from UNICRI’s overarching programme on “Strengthening capacities to identify, assess and mitigate CBRN proliferation financing risks and to investigate proliferation financing-related activities”. As such, this initiative will serve as a foundation for a longer-term engagement, to be implemented in different regions, which foresees: the development of a proliferation financing risk assessment methodology; the delivery of trainings on the detection, investigation and prosecution of PF activities; and the establishment of inter-agency coordination mechanisms between the governments and private sector.