On 17 and 18 January 2023, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) delivered an awareness raising workshop on pressing issues – including emerging threats and trends – related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) proliferation financing for key Cambodian authorities in Phnom Penh.
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 vulnerabilities, and to improve compliance with international standards.
Altogether 20 experts from different agencies took part in the event. These included the Cambodia Financial Intelligence Unit; the National Bank of Cambodia; the Ministry of Interior; the Department of Customs and Excise; the Ministry of Economy and Finance; the Secretariat of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; the Ministry of Commerce; the General Secretariat of the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiological Weapons; the Ministry of Public Works and Transport; and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia.
The two-day workshop comprised of both a plenary session with presentations from UNICRI and from participating agencies about their mandate vis-à-vis counter proliferation financing, and focus group discussions to further deep dive into relevant pressing issues. UNICRI’s intervention provided the opportunity to shed light on the underlying dynamics of a phenomenon which is extremely complex, sensitive, and that should rank as one of the leading focuses in the security agenda. UNICRI’s expert also presented an analysis of case studies and concrete examples of proliferation financing schemes. The focus group meetings discussed the importance of conducting a dedicated proliferation financing risk assessment; addressed the current challenges in enforcing the counter-proliferation finance legislation of 2020; and highlighted priority needs in capacity-building, among the 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. The General Secretariat of the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiological Weapons of Cambodia facilitated the organization of the event.
The participants warmly welcomed the initiative conducted by UNICRI and asked for additional support in terms of capacity-building activities particularly for the Financial Intelligence Unit, the law enforcement agencies involved in financial investigations and the judiciary bodies.
As a next step, on 14-16 March 2023 – at its Headquarters in Turin (Italy) – UNICRI will hold a Regional Expert-level meeting on “Proliferation Financing Risks in Southeast Asia: Supporting States in the Region in Identifying and Addressing Traditional and Emerging Threats”. The event will be attended by representatives of the three partner countries in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Lao PDR and the Philippines), as well as by delegates from other countries of the region and relevant regional and international organizations.
“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. The initiative is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.