|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
ASSEMBLY’S SOCIAL COMMITTEE WARNED NOT TO MAKE MISTAKE OF APPROACHING DRUG
CONTROL, CRIME DETERRENCE, PREVENTION OF TERRORISM AS SEPARATE ISSUES
Developing Countries Call on Richer Nations to Help Them
Overcome Challenges Faced in Implementing Social Development
Drug control, crime deterrence and terrorism prevention are essential for building safe and healthy societies while healthy, competitive and open societies can cope more easily with the evil behaviours of our time, Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said today as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) began its general discussion of crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
In a statement to the Committee, Mr. Costa said it would be a mistake to approach drug control, crime deterrence and the prevention of terrorism as distinct issues. He invited delegations to imagine an architecture for a safer world, with the rule of law as its framework, a strong social foundation, and development “to ensure that your house is liveable”. Security would keep the structure safe, and peace would maintain good neighbourly relations.
Development was key to reducing the global supply of illicit drugs, he said, stressing that rural communities in Afghanistan, South East Asia and the Andean countries needed long-term assistance to reduce their dependence on opium, coca and cannabis production. But security was needed as well, and it was no coincidence that the places where most drugs were cultivated were places outside of State control. The rule of law, meanwhile, needed to be strengthened in many places, and society as a whole had to be involved to reduce drug addiction. He disputed “sensationalist stories in the media” about how there were too many drugs in the world, and that time had come to legalize them, saying there were “signs of stability” for every kind of illicit drug in terms of cultivation, production and consumption.
Turning to human trafficking, Mr. Costa bemoaned “a great deal of ignorance” about the problem, adding: “If we do not see this crime, perhaps it is because we do not look for it. … Anything we eat, drink, wear or touch may have been contaminated by the sweat and tears of modern slaves.” Corruption posed a threat to security by facilitating terrorist attacks, enabling criminal elements to infiltrate State structures, and weakening the security apparatus through bribery and corruption. The rule of law was the basis on which terrorism had to be fought and counter-terrorism legislation had to include a strong criminal justice approach. UNODC, he said, was in a position to help States through “unmatched” legal assistance that took into account the cross-cutting links between drugs, crime and terrorism. Mr. Costa concluded by saying that he saw rising expectations about what his Office could deliver, although it ran on less money than what it cost New York City to dispose of garbage – “and we are supposed to deal with the garbage of the world.”
Following a question and answer session, several delegations took turns to give their views on crime-related matters. The representative of Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union, addressed trafficking in humans, saying it had become one of the most profitable activities of criminal groups and could only be addressed by the combined efforts of the international community. The representative of Swaziland, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control had become inextricably intertwined. In the SADC region, however, while governments were determined to fight organized crime, the administration of justice had been greatly hampered by a lack of human, financial and material resources. The representative of Lao drew attention to the gains her country had made in eradicating opium production, but stressed that sustainable alternative livelihoods now had to be found for farmers who no longer grew opium poppies.
The representative of the United States reported that drug abuse in her country had been stabilizing, and illicit drug use among youths aged 12-17 was at a five-year low. Drug use, however, remained a problem; methamphetamine in particular had become a great concern, along with the “illegal trafficking of controlled pharmaceutical drugs via the Internet.” Regarding the long-standing threat posed by opium, heroin and cocaine, she stated that tackling such drugs at their source was the most effective way of keeping them off the market. The representative of Afghanistan said there had been an increase in opium poppy production last year, which he attributed to a deterioration of the security situation resulting from increased terrorist activities by the Taliban and Al-Qaida. He went on to underscore the importance of the international community’s sustained support for Afghanistan’s efforts in order to break the link between production and trafficking of illegal drugs.
Earlier, in its morning meeting, the Committee concluded its general discussion on social development, with a dozen nations taking the floor. Many took the opportunity to spell out the measures that they had taken to put international agreements into action at the national level, with developing countries stressing the need for richer nations to help them overcome the challenges they faced.
During the discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, statements were also made by the representatives of Belarus (on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States), Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Republic of Korea, China and Algeria. It also heard from the Director and Head of Mission of the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI).
Statements on social development were made by representatives or youth delegates of Bulgaria, Haiti, Nepal, Russian Federation, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Cameroon, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization also spoke. The Observer of Palestine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 11 October at 10 a.m. to continue its general discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its general discussion of social development.
For background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3882 of 8 October 2007.
The Committee also began its general discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
The Committee had before it a note from the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the third session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (document A/62/84).
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/62/126). This report summarizes work done by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in support of Member States efforts to combat transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism, and includes recommendations on the same subjects. The report further encourages Member States to consider utilizing UNODC manuals, such as the “advanced anti-human trafficking manuals”, in national training syllabuses. Emerging issues noted in the report include fraud and identity theft as well as illicit international trafficking in forest products. The report includes an annex detailing contributions by Member States and other entities to the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund.
The Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/62/127). The report summarizes the operations of the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders during the past year, which include a Ugandan pilot project against Internet scams; efforts and studies on transnational trafficking in persons; and a survey on the various trends in different crimes affecting Africa. The Secretary-General concludes by urging the supporters of the Institute to abide by their obligations to serve Africa more meaningfully in the area of crime prevention and the administration of criminal justice.
The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on Technical Assistance for Implementing the International Conventions and Protocols Relating to Terrorism (document A/C.3/62/L.2). By the terms of the draft which the Economic and Social Council is recommending to the General Assembly for adoption, the Assembly would urge Member States that have not yet done so to become parties without delay to the existing international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism. The text would further ask UNODC, subject to the availability of extra-budgetary resources, to provide legislative assistance to Member States, upon request, and to facilitate implementation of those instruments. The draft would also urge Member States to strengthen international cooperation to the greatest extent possible in order to prevent and suppress terrorism.
The Committee had before it another draft on Follow-up to the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/62/L.3). By the terms of the text which the Economic and Social Council is recommending to the General Assembly for adoption, the Assembly would reiterate its invitation to Member States to implement the Bangkok Declaration on Synergies and Responses: Strategic Alliances in Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the recommendations adopted by the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in formulating legislation and policy directives, where appropriate. The text would further ask the Secretary-General to facilitate the organization of regional preparatory meetings, including meetings of the least developed countries, for the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The draft would also invite Member States to be represented at the Twelfth Congress at the highest possible level.
The Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/62/117). The report provides an overview of the implementation of mandates relating to international drug control. Although Member States have continued to make progress, much remains to be done, the report says. Initiatives for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation need to be expanded, in order to meet the targets for 2008, which is the year designated for reviewing progress towards the goals set at the General Assembly’s twentieth special session.
Manufacture and trafficking in amphetamines remain a significant challenge, as does money-laundering, the Secretary-General notes. While some countries, notably the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar have achieved impressive reductions in opium poppy production, Afghanistan requires concerted and coordinated action by the international community as well as the national authorities to improve security and to ensure that the rule of law reaches all provinces of the country.
BORYANA ATANASSOVA, youth representative of Bulgaria said so far 2007 had been special for Bulgarian youth like her. Her country’s accession to the European Union had opened up many possibilities for mobility, education and employment. The most pressing issue for youth, however, given all the challenges confronting them today, was still guaranteeing their effective participation in the global economy. She called on Member States to put an end to joblessness which was a problem for young people and women.
Praising microfinance, she noted that the costs of such programmes were negligible compared to the impact of empowerment and escape from marginalization that such initiatives provided. Finally, she reminded delegates that every decision they would make would have an impact not only on them today, but on their children tomorrow.
NICOLE ROMULUS ( Haiti) said a society was judged by the way it treats its older persons. Sociologists had long concluded that traditional societies and developing countries had sacred respect for the elderly. That picture, however, changed in the context of uneven development. To say that the elderly, especially in urban areas, faced a tragic situation would not be an exaggeration. More and more, the elderly were looked upon, even by their loved ones, as a burden on the family and society. In Haiti, in the wake of the brutal liberalization of the economy that began in the 1980s, the State had little means to help the elderly; the only pension fund available was for civil servants, and even that was minimal. Haiti would therefore welcome technical and material assistance from the international community to draw up laws and strategies for its elderly.
Greater attention was being given in Haiti to disabled persons, she said, with President René Préval recently stating that their integration was a Government priority. Although some 800,000 Haitians suffered from disabilities, their dilemma had less to do with their actual disabilities than with the discrimination they faced. In developing countries, including Haiti, single-parent families were becoming the norm, while the number of abandoned children had been growing incessantly. Haiti - profoundly committed to the different international tools and instruments on social integration, the elderly and the disabled, and the promotion of the family - believed that such problems could be notably overcome through sincere and generous cooperation at the global level.
MANI PRASAD BHATTARAI ( Nepal) said that despite commitments made in the Copenhagen Declaration, important goals in social development, including those on poverty eradication, full employment and social integration were far from being met. Full employment and decent work conditions in developing countries were achievable if developed countries would adopt a more accommodating approach towards migrant workers from developing countries. Globalization had further marginalized least-developed and landlocked developing countries, he said, emphasizing that the negative impacts of that process in these countries should be addressed within the context of social development.
Poverty, limited infrastructure, a growing population and inadequate resources were challenging Nepal’s progress toward social development, he said. But in the last year, Nepal had witnessed unprecedented political transformation, generating new hopes that the people would be able to improve their socioeconomic conditions. Nepal’s decade-long conflict had caused a lot of suffering, including the destruction of development infrastructure and public property, necessarily affecting most of the population’s social development. Nepal therefore hoped that the country would continue to receive greater complements from the international community in their endeavours.
ZOYA POIMANOVA, Chief of the Department of Youth Policy, Upbringing and Social Care of Children of the Russian Federation said her country was interested in strengthening the Commission for Social Development, which was a unique forum and an effective coordinator for policy at the international level. Effective social policy in Russia had been a basic component of its economic transformation. Currently, the trend was towards less unemployment while the quality of life had been increasing. Additional measures to change the economic structure were on the agenda.
The youth sector in the Russian Federation was 40 million strong, accounting for 27 per cent of the population, she said. For development to be successful there needed to be an effective youth policy. To that end, a State committee had been formed to look into youth issues, and work had been continuing on a draft federation law on youth policy. The declaration that came out of the 2nd World Assembly on aging and the Madrid Plan of Action were seen in the Russian Federation as guidelines for addressing issues that concerned the elderly. Regarding disabled persons, the Russian Federation had been proceeding in the spirit of the actions of the United Nations, with rehabilitation facilities being made available. Her country supported consolidating the action of the United Nations in the social area, given the link between social development, security and human rights.
MARIA ELENA MEDAL ( Nicaragua) said that globalization and the capitalist system had not proved to be “our best allies”. Full employment and decent work for all had not been placed at the heart of macroeconomic policies. International financial organizations had imposed policies that had caused a state of chaos in Nicaragua, with a high proportion of the population in the country living in poverty. Nevertheless, Nicaragua had now entered a new phase. The Government’s key aim was to reduce poverty, and eliminate inequality. Also, due to the elimination of school fees, children had returned to school. The Government had struggled against illiteracy and hoped to eliminate the problem in the next three years, working with “brother countries” like Cuba and Venezuela, she said.
Gender equality was a main strand of the new Government’s programmes. Young people also represented a fundamental pillar for the new Nicaragua. Those issues and other efforts for change would require the mobilization of international and national resources. Nicaragua did not want assistance-based policies, though, but said industrialized countries must become partners for development. International financial entities would have to change their policies towards developing countries. “One size fits all does not work,” she said. While her country was concerned with the high levels of migration, she noted that migratory flows of people from the South to the North would last as long as there was inequality on earth.
AMINU BASHIR WALI ( Nigeria) said his country had established a new Ministry to pool social development initiatives with mandates to address questions relating to family, youth, persons with disabilities, the aged and other vulnerable groups. As the highest policy-coordinating organ on those matters, the Ministry had an impact on activities at the national, State and local Government levels. It also influenced Government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Outlining other achievements in implementing the various United Nations development goals, he said his Government was committed to good governance, the rule of law and a policy of zero tolerance for the “cankerworm” of corruption. “Huge” sums of money had been invested in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and plans were being implemented to enhance harmonization and enforceability of programmes. In partnership with the United Nations and development partners, improvements had been introduced in the workplace and among the destitute.
In closing, he stressed the need for addressing the root causes of underdevelopment and poverty through the concerted effort of all actors at the international, regional and national levels. He said implementation of the Copenhagen Commitments as well as the attainment of internationally accepted development goals were mutually reinforcing and crucial to a coherent, people-centred approach to development. Implementation of such goals would be facilitated by capacity-building through focal ministries and agencies.
RAPHAEL S.C. HERMOSO (Philippines), aligning himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said his country had taken a bold step in engaging its youth in the policy-making process. In 2007, the Government sent its first youth representative to the General Assembly. The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), or Youth Council, was where youth under 24 years actually sat as policy makers and implementers. The Government was currently seeking to reform the SK model, and the upcoming local elections for councillors would offer a golden opportunity to mentor and guide the young government leaders towards more responsive government. Each Council was mandated to receive 10 per cent of the internal revenue allotment of the locality to which it belonged, therefore giving it enough funds to come up with programmes that could assist the Government achieve international development targets.
On the issue of disabilities, he said the Philippines was committed to improving the lives of disabled people and was continuously looking for ways to empower them. His country was a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and looked forward to its universal acceptance. He stressed the need for the Millennium Development Goals to be more “disability inclusive”, and said the Philippines would take the opportunity during the Fifth Appraisal and Review of the World Programme of Action to mainstream the issue of people with disabilities and link it to the MDGs.
AYESHA AL MANSOORI ( United Arab Emirates) pointed out that more than half the world’s peoples still lacked the means to enjoy a decent life. Efforts by the United Nations vis-à-vis social development were to be commended, but her country urged a redoubling of international efforts. The United Arab Emirates had been fulfilling its commitments to enhance the standard of living at the national and global levels. At the international level, particularly in Asia, it had been helping to fund primary schools. Nationally, there had been a core focus on country-wide sustainable development. Education was free for all, including higher education and vocational training, to encourage youth to enter employment that met the national development plans. National mechanisms had also been established to develop human resources.
Efforts had been made in the United Arab Emirates to bring health services up to an international standard, she said. Infant mortality had been reduced, and several diseases eliminated such as polio and malaria. The spread of HIV/AIDS had been limited, with no new cases reported since its discovery. The role of women had been growing and they now accounted for 22.4 percent of the workforce with two appointed as Government ministers. Regarding human rights, new laws had been put in place to safeguard the rights of both nationals and migrants, including camel jockeys and domestic helpers.
FRANCISCO ANIBAL ANZOLO QUINTO ( Venezuela) said that one of the central premises of the Bolivarian Revolution was the creation of a new development model based on citizen participation. The struggle against poverty and its root causes was a linchpin of Venezuela’s social policies, and the country was working to eradicate poverty through social programmes. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had recognized Venezuela as an illiteracy-free zone, and healthcare was guaranteed to the country’s population through a national health system, also thanks to the solidarity of Cuban doctors.
Social investment in Venezuela was also on the rise, and the largest share was allocated to the educational sector. Microeconomic measures were central to eradicating poverty, and access to credit for individuals in greatest need through micro-credit was a worthy initiative. Older people’s participation in social policy was encouraged, and, in order to forge an inclusive society, a law would enter into force making public transportation on Caracas’s subway free for people with disabilities. Venezuela promoted regional cooperation, which reduced poverty in the affected areas. In conclusion, he said, Venezuela was closer to attaining the Millennium Development Goals, thus ensuring the dignity of the human being.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU ( Cameroon) said that, 12 years after the Copenhagen Summit and seven years after the Millennium Summit, the human condition had not really improved. In the developing world especially, there was still flagrant poverty. Ten million children died every year before the age of five, and 72 million children were being deprived of primary education. Despite some progress, the crisis remained acute in sub-Saharan Africa. Promises had not been kept, although it was good to see that developing countries had been elaborating strategies and policies to help the more vulnerable members of society. In Cameroon, the fight against poverty was a national priority, and benefits reaped from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries’ Initiative (HIPC) were being directed to education in particular, as well as to agriculture, public works and tackling HIV/AIDS.
Regarding ageing, the Government in Cameroon, with United Nations help, had been finalizing a national policy, he said. For disabled persons, Cameroon’s concern was to provide them with an equal chance in life and legislation had been adopted to guarantee them special rights. To facilitate the rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration of the disabled, a National Committee had been created. Today, more than ever, the progress of peoples was the new name for peace. Instability grew out of misery and poverty was a threat to peace. It was vital for solemn commitments to be kept regarding aid, investment and debt relief for developing countries. A strong political will and a spirit of partnership and solidarity were needed. It could be done and it must be done.
OLHA KAVUN ( Ukraine), aligning herself with the statement made by the Presidency of the European Union, confirmed her country’s commitment to the full and effective implementation of the goals set out in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action as well as the MDGs. Poverty was a challenge for many countries including Ukraine and its eradication was therefore a key goal of social development policies. A number of recent legislative incentives had incorporated ideas promoting a socially oriented economy and the efficient use of existing resources to enhance social policy. The Government considered productive work and employment – especially youth employment – to be the central elements of development and an effective way to combat poverty and promote social integration.
She expressed satisfaction with the Commission for Social Development’s (CSD) work on the theme of “promoting full employment and decent work for all”, and its confirmed support for furthering its outcomes. She called for a broader concept of economic and social development at the national and international levels. While Governments should have primary responsibility for social development policies, partnerships with international organizations, entrepreneurs and NGOs would play a supportive and important role.
NURBEK JEENBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) said the Copenhagen and Millennium declarations had set out the basis for social promotion and enshrined a consensus on ensuring social development, the eradication of poverty, and the building of a safe global society. Achieving the MDGs had become the context of a global initiative. In Kyrgyzstan, the principle of social responsibility had been the basis of domestic and foreign policy. It had adopted a development strategy for 2007 to 2010 that clearly confirmed its dedication to the Millennium Development Goals. Since dialogue made social partnership possible, the social equality of States should be set out as a slogan, with the aim of creating a decent quality of life for all.
New mechanisms were required to build a socially oriented world order, he said, mechanisms that would monitor joint efforts and set out a framework for progress. Kyrgyzstan was therefore planning to submit to the current session of the General Assembly a draft resolution calling for the creation of a Global Day for Global Justice that would draw increased attention to the Copenhagen and Millennium declarations. Kyrgyzstan encouraged other delegations to support its draft resolution.
J. OMAR, Food and Agriculture Organization, said his organization’s mandate was to help raise levels of nutrition, contribute to the improvement of agricultural productivity and help better the lives of rural populations. A large proportion of the global number of people with disabilities, he noted, were farmers with responsibility for the food security of their households. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had several means to improve their situations; among others by eliminating nutrition-related disabilities through improved dietary practices and food security interventions.
Emergencies could create new disabilities due to the destruction of people’s livelihoods, he noted, through malnutrition, food-related diseases, trauma and unsafe conditions for work and living. FAO had therefore updated its emergency and rehabilitation operations to better serve the needs of persons with disabilities and their families in emergency situations. In conclusion, he noted that on 18 October, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, a special World Food Day event would be observed, as well as the launch of the International Year of the Potato.
Rights of Reply
FEDA ABDELHADY NASSER, Observer of Palestine, spoke in right of reply to the statement made at the previous meeting on Tuesday by Israel. What about Israel’s responsibilities as an occupying power towards the civilian population under its occupation for more than 40 years, she asked. Israel’s credibility in debating social development, equality and justice was impaired when it failed to address its occupation. Measures imposed by Israel had left the Palestinian people impoverished. Ninety per cent of Palestinian civilians in Gaza lived under the poverty line, and 1.1 million depended on food aid. Livelihoods were being destroyed daily, with families left with no means of income.
Israeli policies had the effect of deepening “abject poverty” and increasing dependence on welfare, she continued. Construction of the wall, a racist and debilitating permit regime, as well as restrictions on the movement of people and goods were in grave contravention of Israel’s legal obligations under the Geneva Conventions and international human rights covenants. Far from promoting social development, Israeli policies had been destroying the very fabric of Palestinian society.
ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that although drug control, crime deterrence and terrorism prevention could be pursued in isolation, to do so would be an error. They interacted profoundly with peace, security, development and the rule of law and therefore they had to be dealt with in the context of the global aspirations of society.
Regarding illicit drugs, he said, development was the key to reducing the world’s supply of narcotics. Long-term assistance was needed for rural communities in Afghanistan, South East Asia and the Andean countries to reduce their dependence on opium, coca and cannabis production. UNODC had been working with funding partners, including development banks, so that farmers would find alternatives to narcotic crops. Most illicit drugs were cultivated in places outside Government control, and traffickers were drawn to areas where the rule of law was weak. Rich countries, where most cocaine was consumed, were asked to help provide assistance to strengthen criminal justice, develop crime prevention strategies, and promote long-term development.
Strengthening the rule of law was a major part of UNODC’s work, Mr. Costa said. Its biggest portfolios were in Afghanistan and Central Asia, helping States to set up drug control agencies, build border posts, strengthen the judiciary, and improve interdiction. UNODC was also helping African States to strengthen their judicial capacity and reduce the continent’s vulnerability; the African Union was to be complimented for its plan of action on drugs and crime to be adopted later this year at its ministerial conference. Society as a whole had to be involved in the fight against drugs.
Despite sensationalist stories in the media, the World Drug Report 2007 showed that drug control had been working, globally, continued Mr. Costa. It did not appear that the problem was getting worse, although there remained 25 million problem drug users in the world, and 200 million occasional drug users. Moving beyond containment would mean ensuring that those numbers did not grow, and that help went out to illicit drug users to reduce the damage they did to themselves. UNODC projects sought to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users, a threat seen particularly in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eastern Europe and India.
Mr. Costa said greater attention was thankfully being given to human trafficking. It had even become the topic of films. Yet human trafficking persisted, with underage girls sold by their families to foreign tourists, teenagers duped into prostitution, child soldiers, sex slaves, forced labour in mines as well as sweatshops, and unpaid domestic workers. Such people were being used as disposable commodities. Due to limited evidence, denial and a lack of awareness, there was still much ignorance about human trafficking. Modern slavery had a security dimension related to the rule of law; UNODC was helping States to implement the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children to protect victims and bring traffickers to justice. There was a development dimension as well, as human trafficking was usually associated with mass poverty, cultural deprivation and ignorance. The UNODC and other parts of the United Nations system had launched the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) to raise awareness and step up technical assistance.
Corruption was another great threat to the architecture of a safer world, he said. It was the rot that killed development, undermined democracy and the rule of law, and destroyed public trust. It could threaten security by facilitating terrorism. UNODC had been helping Member States to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption, now ratified by more than 100 States. A major breakthrough was underway in the field of asset recovery; the days that kleptocrats could loot public coffers and hide stolen assets in safe havens had passed, thanks to a joint World Bank/UNODC Stolen Asset (StAR) recovery initiative, launched at United Nations Headquarters last month. Public attitudes had been changing; there was less tolerance of corruption; non-governmental organizations have been demanding greater transparency; and parliamentarians had become more scrupulous. Momentum had to be built upon at the Conference of States Parties to the anti-corruption Convention, to be held in Bali next January.
On terrorism, Mr. Costa said it was one of the most dangerous security threats of “our times” and one that also had a negative impact on development. UNODC had been helping States to strengthen the legal regime against terrorism, in the wake of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly in December 2006. The basis for fighting terrorism was the rule of law, as terrorist acts were a most violent form of crime. Perpetrators had to be brought to justice; terrorism also had to be countered by addressing incitement and conspiracy to commit terrorism, the financing of terrorism, and the use of the Internet for terrorism. Unmatched legal assistance could be provided by UNODC.
The work of UNODC had been guided by the guidance provided by Member States, Mr. Costa concluded. Good intentions would soon be proven when the time came to approve the UNODC budget; Member States were invited to be generous. UNODC looked forward to political guidance at upcoming meetings of the Conference of States Parties for the Conventions against crime and corruption, the drug and crime commissions, and the Crime Congress in 2010. At the last event, Brazil and Qatar were asked to agree as soon as possible on who would play host. UNODC was open to helping States tackle emerging threats such as cyber crime, environmental crime and nuclear-terrorism. Expectations were raised as to what UNODC could deliver, and there had been more frequent calls for its technical assistance. Its resources, however, were still not up to the task; funding for the agency was less than what New York City spent yearly on garbage disposal, “and we are supposed to deal with the garbage of the world”. Together, a safer architecture for humanity could be built.
The representative of Guinea-Bissau said that developing countries, including his own, were the prey of illicit activity such as drug trafficking. “We have constantly tried to draw the attention of the international community to this danger which threatens the West African sub-region”, he said, “and is destroying the foundations of democratic institutions.” Guinea-Bissau neither produced nor consumed drugs, he added.
With regard to human trafficking, he said what the world was witnessing was modern slavery. Moving on to the issue of corruption, he stated that corruption endangered democratic institutions. Terrorism was a problem from which no-one was safe. He concluded his question by expressing hopes that UNODC had the necessary means to carry out its task and rid the world of the problems he was raising today.
The representative of Sudan said that focusing on the root of the illicit drug scourge was important, and that all efforts should unite to tackle the problem. He then expressed surprise that Mr. Costa’s statement did not mention the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, which was a pioneer experience.
The representative of Barbados asked why UNODC in Barbados had been shut down, when Barbados and the Caribbean were caught in the crossfire between drug-producing and drug-consuming countries. Barbados was vulnerable to trafficking and the arms trade because of its geographic position, yet his region was marginalized in the priorities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s mandate.
Mr. Costa answered he agreed with the main point of Guinea-Bissau’s question, the tragedy of West Africa. West Africa never had a drug problem, he said, but traffickers discovered - because of serious interdiction measures against their normal routes - that it was easier to attack Africa which had limited capacity to defend itself. He said that after drug traffickers attacked Cape Verde around two years ago, the activity had moved inland. This activity was having a destabilizing effect and creating a climate of tension and unrest. “A drug problem is the last thing Africa needs at this time,” he said. He promised that UNODC would do the utmost to help more, and expressed happiness that even the Security Council had looked into the matter.
Fighting drugs through the promotion of strong government was good, he said, and added that he should have mentioned the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in his statement. Specialist institutions such as the institute were helping UNODC to understand the situation on the ground leading to a better use of resources.
Regarding the question of the representative of Barbados, he said that the UNODC office in that country had been closed because it had no projects, and no country was willing to provide resources to it. The UNODC had decided to launch a major exercise of reporting in cooperation with the World Bank to study poverty in the Caribbean and how it related to the Caribbean’s being caught in the crossfire between drug-producing and drug-consuming countries.
The representative of Gabon referred to Mr. Costa’s “three-way approach” and invited him to discuss transversal approaches. The representative of Benin, referring to transnational organized crime, asked for Mr. Costa’s views on capital punishment.
Replying to the first question, Mr. Costa referred to a report on crime in Africa produced by his Office, which had found the continent to be very vulnerable to crime for a number of reasons, such as a very young society, mass poverty and joblessness, and civil wars that made weapons easily available. Another factor was the income differential; whereas in Europe the top 10 percent of society earned seven times more than the bottom 10 percent, in Africa the gap was 32 times. Africa also had the world’s fastest rate of urbanization. Africa spent one-tenth of what Western Europe and North America did on the judicial system, resulting in a very weak judicial system, a high degree of impunity, and thus more crime. Such conditions existed in other places, of course, such as in the Caribbean, but statistics unfortunately showed crime to be at the top of the scale in many African countries. At such high levels, foreign investors stayed away, and domestic savers put their money in other places, impacting on development. What the UNODC was proposing was not more police or tougher legislation, but rather an escape from a vicious circle that was getting worse by the day.
Responding to Benin’s question, Mr. Costa said that obviously, the United Nations stood for the abolition of the death penalty. Our Lord had given life to people, not the right to put an end to life. The severity of a sentence, including the death sentence, did not necessarily translate into a lower rate of crime. Abolition of the death penalty was needed all over the world; its continuation did not reduce the severity of crime.
SARA MARTINS (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), said the Union was committed to setting up mechanisms for police and judicial cooperation between States, in line with the priorities laid down in The Hague Programme - a multi-annual EU programme that includes the fight against organized crime. Trafficking in persons had become one of the most profitable activities of criminal groups and could only be addressed by the combined efforts of the international community. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children was a useful tool to combat the scourge. The UNODC driven UN.GIFT aimed to bring together all stakeholders, including business, to focus available resources.
Corruption was an obstacle to sustainable development and good governance, she said. The Second Conference of States Parties in January 2008 must decide on an appropriate and effective review mechanism for the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy of the Organization had been substantiated by the important work of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, whose appropriate funding needed to be addressed without delay. The EU stood ready to assist the Task Force in implementing the strategy, focusing on issues such as preventing radicalization and securing human rights while fighting terrorism. The Global Strategy required UNODC to enhance its technical assistance delivery function, moving beyond the Terrorism Prevention Branch by also including its anti-corruption, money laundering and rule of law units.
As for the international drug problem, she said that with its 760 million euros spent in 2005 on international cooperation projects in the field of drugs, the European Union was the largest international contributor. Some two-thirds of EU spending was focused on alternative development. The EU and the UNODC should avoid duplication and generate new synergies. The consumption of some drugs had been on the rise in Europe. Only through integrated policies – combining social, economic, health and legal responses – and the exchange of best practices at the international level could the problem be addressed efficiently. The General Assembly Special Session of 1998 (UNGASS) was a unique opportunity to reach a common vision that could lead to an effective global response to the drugs threat.
ERIC MAZIYA (Swaziland) speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said that SADC recognized that crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control had become inextricably intertwined. In his region, he said that although governments were determined to fight organized crime, the lack of human, financial and material resources greatly hampered the administration of justice. The SADC further supported the conclusions of the Round Table for Africa held in Abuja in September 2005 which endorsed the 2006-2010 Programme of Action to tackle crime, insecurity and underdevelopment in Africa.
The SADC countries, he added, were particularly worried that the use of and trade in hard drugs (which traditionally had not been a problem in Africa) were increasing. International drug trafficking had become a financial pillar of terrorism, and terrorism was finding fertile ground in poor and developing countries. Turning to the work of the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the treatment of Offenders, he urged the international community to increase their support for this initiative. In conclusion, he said, although progress had been achieved, much remained to be done, if the international community was to effectively combat crime.
ANDREI PAPKIUNAS (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said that Member States of the CIS had been cooperating in fighting crime on the basis of a comprehensive regional system that targeted terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration and trafficking in persons. At the last CIS summit, on 5-6 October 2007, six special international documents on crime prevention had been agreed. Included in the institutional system of crime prevention in the CIS were Councils that brought together internal affairs ministers, the heads of security agencies and special services, commanders of border guards, and an Antiterrorist Centre. There had been regular comprehensive and specialized operations on combating terrorism, trafficking in persons, drugs, arms and explosives, suppression of the smuggling of raw materials, and so forth. More work on combating terrorism would be based on the Programme on Combating Terrorism and Other Violent Manifestations of Extremism for 2008-2010.
Ongoing work on creating automated data banks created the possibility of disclosing cross-border crimes and arresting people under international investigation, he said. At its meeting in September 2007, the Council of Ministers of Internal Affairs had signed nine documents on simplifying information cooperation. Three basic United Nations conventions on combating drug trafficking had also been adopted. Legal and institutional mechanisms for combating financial crimes had been put in place in the CIS; in October 2007, a treaty on countering money laundering and financing of terrorism had been signed, as was an agreement on cooperation in addressing the theft and restitution of cultural assets. Last year the Council of Heads of States of the CIS adopted a programme of cooperation to combat trafficking in persons in 2007-2010, and regional cooperation on that issue had been discussed at the fourth international conference of law enforcement authorities in April 2007. A draft model law on trafficking in persons had been elaborated by the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of CIS Member States; implementation of that model law would promote the harmonization of national legislation dealing with trafficking in persons.
IDREES MOHAMED ALI MOHAMED SAEED ( Sudan ) recalled that the first World Conference on Crime Prevention in 1995 marked the first serious step towards eradicating crime on a global scale. Since then, efforts had been made at all levels to address the challenge of transnational organized crime. The Sudan had made appreciable efforts to implement regional and international instruments vis-à-vis transnational crime. Donor countries were urged to support the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders.
The Sudan did not have a grave drugs problem, but its geographical situation meant that it could in time become a transit point for drug trafficking, he said. Efforts were being made to address that factor. In an age of globalization, with its pros and cons, and in a world teeming with variables that transcended national boundaries, technical support was needed by developing countries to address the problems of crime.
BILAL HAYEE ( Pakistan) said that today’s globalized world of easy transportation, instant communication, and information technology had both eliminated the barriers of distance and time yet also opened a world of exploitation through transnational crimes. Much illegal activity, he said, particularly in the areas of drugs and human trafficking originated in the poorer, less developed areas of the world and moved across borders to the markets of rich and developed countries. The ease of criminal organizations’ operations were directly related to the weaknesses of criminal justice systems.
Pakistan had taken specific measures to criminalize and punish trafficking in persons, corruption and money laundering because of the complex legal, social and economic dimensions of these crimes, he said. The international community needed to pay special attention to emerging trends such as response to urban crime, fiscal misappropriation, identity-related crime, sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children as well as the illicit trafficking in forest products, he said. He concluded by offering his full support to UNODC in fulfilling its challenging mandate.
KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao) said the world drug problem had yet to be perfectly contained. Common efforts had to be redoubled. Opium had played an important role in Lao society for more than a century, and Lao had become the world’s third largest producer of illicit opium. It had also had many addicts. As a State party to international conventions on narcotic drugs, Lao was committed to eliminating illicit opium cultivation, with significant success having been made under a National Programme Strategy for the Elimination of Opium Poppy launched in 2000 that had seen a 93 per cent reduction in poppy cultivation.
Praise-worthy as that success might be, much remained to be done, she said. Erstwhile poppy farmers had to have sustainable alternative livelihoods, and 12,000 remaining addicts still needed treatment. Better legislation, judicial and law enforcement capacities were needed as well. To address those issues, a National Programme Strategy for the Post Opium Scenario had been adopted with UNODC for 2006-2009. It was focused on long-term development efforts, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, preventative education to keep young people away from drugs, and law enforcement efforts to stop the production and trafficking of illicit drugs. To keep Lao opium free, and to eradicate poverty, coordinated support from regional partner countries and the international community was urgently needed.
ISMAT JAHAN ( Bangladesh) said that crime was both the cause and consequence of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment. Given its multitude of facets, transnational crime could not be controlled effectively by individual country initiatives, she said. As for Bangladesh, the country was working to curb corruption, and had implemented the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was also helping to recover “the ill-gotten gains” of corruption stored abroad, she said. The separation of judiciary from the executive was also making significant headway, she added.
Trafficking in persons continued to be a major concern for Bangladesh. Her country therefore welcomed UNODC’s Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. Moving to the subject of drugs, she noted that Bangladesh laws had strict penalties for drug offenders. In conclusion, she said that crime prevention, ensuring criminal justice and solving the international drug problem were too large an agenda to be handled by any country in isolation. Member States should launch concerted efforts. Ultimately, she said, “it is the genuine and good will of the international community that can rid the world of these scourges”.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Columbia) pointed to UNODC’s 2007 World Drug Report which reiterated the importance of sustaining and deepening the fight against the “scourge” of drugs, at national, regional and international levels. The report indicated that Colombia had achieved a high degree of progress, with the cumulative area eradicated in 2006 being 2.7 times higher than the net cultivation area. The Forest Keeper Family Programme, which would shortly cover some 80,000 families, had achieved “heartening results” in the voluntary eradication of coca bush, and in restoring a sense of hope for the well-being and quality of life of the participating families by committing them to abandoning illicit drug production and supervising the recovery of destroyed forests.
She said the fight against drugs was one of the vital components of the “Strategy for the Strengthening of Democracy and Social Development”, which shaped the policy on international cooperation in her country. She thanked the international community for its support in this area, and at the same time acknowledged the support for the Democratic Security Policy, which had allowed the achievement of goals established in UNGASS.
Several important drug lords had recently been captured in Colombia, among them, a former leader considered to be responsible for about 70 per cent of drug trafficking to the United States and Europe. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had also suffered a significant casualty, with the death of a person responsible for the drug trafficking, arms, ammunition, and explosives trafficking, and finances of one of its fronts. As significant as these deaths were, she signalled that none of these efforts would be meaningful in the absence of the principle of shared responsibility, or without the support of the international community. Further, it was vital to recognize the connection between international terrorism and the world drug problem, particularly as the resources associated with drug trafficking provided financial support to terrorist acts.
At the same time, she said a solution to the world drug problem could only be achieved by fighting against demand and supply, and called for a strategic policy based on the “accumulated knowledge of the world drug market”. She closed by underlining the importance of keeping the debate on drugs in the Third Committee every year, and repeated Colombia’s commitment to constructively participate in all Third Committee work.
PARK HEE-KWON (Republic of Korea), commending the United Nations for its efforts to tackle narcotic drugs, said that the issue required greater shared efforts among nations, international organizations and NGOs. The regulations, technologies and skills available to law enforcement did not seem to be keeping pace with strategies devised by producers and drug smugglers. In particular, the rampant opium production in southern Afghanistan required assistance at the international level.
He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to do its part in international cooperation to achieve a drug free world and to meet its national targets in that regard. In the area of other transnational crime as well, including terrorism and cyber crime, he said the Republic of Korea had been working closely with UNODC and actively cooperating with the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ). The country was also working at the national and regional levels to tackle those crimes.
JIA GUIDE ( China) said drugs and transnational crime had long threatened social stability. How best to deal with those issues was a common challenge facing the international community as a whole. The international drug control system was working well and there had been a worldwide decrease in cultivation. International cooperation against the drug problem showed that United Nations Member States had come a long way in drug control.
Despite this progress, the world drug situation remained grave, and the international community had a long way to go, he said. Attention had to stay focused on cultivation countries like Afghanistan which accounted for 92 per cent of the world’s total opium production, he noted. Countries whose populations consumed drugs should make joint efforts with producing countries to address the root causes. Destroying crops just addressed the symptoms, while poverty alleviation on the other hand spoke to the causes. Over the years, he said, the Chinese government had dealt with the issue of drugs from the perspective of building a harmonious society. Transnational crime, as well as trafficking, had to be combated, he said. In recent years, China had made every effort to fight corruption. In conclusion, he thanked UNODC for their effective work over the past year.
SALIMA ABDELHAK ( Algeria) said cooperation was indispensable to respond effectively to transnational criminality, which had not hesitated to embrace new technologies to destabilize the development and security of States. It was the need to act together that pushed the international community to adopt United Nations instruments to combat transnational organized crime, which had to be reinforced through universal ratification and support from all States parties. Universal ratification would help to close loopholes and consolidate the efforts of States parties vis-à-vis new experiences and practices.
Aware of the danger posed by transnational criminality and its growing links with terrorism, the barbarity of which it had been subjected to for a decade, Algeria had not hesitated to ratify the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, its two Protocols and the Convention Against Corruption, she said. The contents of those instruments were used to guide changes to the judicial system and to establish a national body to confront corruption. Regarding drug trafficking, said that the efforts being made would be in vain if they were not accompanied by international cooperation. Algeria’s own actions were focused on repression, treatment and prevention. Regional and international cooperation were the only way to put a halt to drug trafficking.
CHRISTY McCAMPBELL, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the United States, said drug abuse in her country had been stabilizing, and illicit drug use among youths aged 12 to 17 was at a five-year low. Drug use, however, remained a problem, especially the rising abuse of prescription drugs. Methamphetamine production, trafficking and abuse was a great concern. A strong international commitment was needed to combat its spread, and the International Narcotics Control Board was an especially strong ally in that regard. Illegal trafficking of controlled pharmaceutical drugs via the Internet was another emerging criminal trend; important work was being done by the Organization of American States to develop a guide for the Western Hemisphere on that topic.
Turning to the long-standing threats of opium, heroin and cocaine, Ms. McCampbell said attacking such drugs at their source was the most effective way of keeping them off the market. There had been tremendous progress as drug crops were eliminated around the world, but illicit drug elements had been consolidating activities in the most fragile nations. In many cases, drug traffickers, terrorists and other criminal groups had joined forces to undermine governments. In Afghanistan, narco-trafficking had been identified by President Hamid Karzai as the greatest threat to the nation - yet a third of its economy was opium-based. Curbing the opium trade in that country would be a long-term challenge. Confronting cocaine required a strong national commitment, and some heroic measures had been seen in Mexico and Colombia. The expansion of coca cultivation in the overall Andean region was a concern, however. It was important to prevent transnational crime organizations from gaining footholds; multi-ton shipments in Europe had become common and more cocaine was being smuggled through West Africa. The United States hoped to see the development of cooperation in the run-up to the ten-year anniversary of the Twentieth General Assembly Special Session, and it was crucial that UNODC and its very effective Director receive unrelenting support.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said that, cognizant of the devastating effects of narcotics on Afghan society, the country had adopted a drug control strategy that relied on a number of pillars, including support for alternative livelihoods, eradication and drug demand reduction in an effort towards combating illicit narcotics in Afghanistan. Last year had shown an increase in opium poppy production, he said, adding that it was noteworthy to mention the “inextricable nexus” between insecurity and narcotics. Poppy cultivation had increased in provinces which had seen a deterioration of the security situation resulting from increased terrorist activities by the Taliban and Al-Qaida.
He underscored the importance of the international community’s sustained support of Afghanistan’s efforts in order to break the link between production and trafficking of illegal drugs. Afghanistan was a landlocked country so traffickers had to transport drugs through neighbouring countries and other transit states in order to get to the European market. Success against traffickers would require an equal effort by transit and consuming countries. In conclusion, he said that the fight against narcotics was inherently linked to Afghanistan’s efforts to curb corruption. Arresting, investigating and prosecuting corrupt officials was part of Afghanistan’s “proactive” strategy against corruption.
MASAMBA SITA, Director and Head of Mission of the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI), discussed the finances of the Institute, noting that the assessed contribution for 2006 had exceeded 800,000 dollars. Several proposals for collaboration with professional and specialist organizations to draw up and implement joint projects had been received. In UNAFRI’s view, crime was a major obstacle to harmonious and sustainable socio-economic development in Africa. UNAFRI humbly urged development organizations and other institutions to take into account the impact of crime on development, as it appeared that they did not often do so. It was crucial that Member States and the international community support UNAFRI financially, as it was a regional mechanism that could make a genuine contribution to reducing poverty -- a major source of crime – and improve access to public services.
UNAFRI was aware of the devastating impact of crime on national economies, he said. It was determined, in collaboration with the international community, to do more to combat crime and reinforce the criminal justice systems in Member States. Africa had been emerging as a partner in crime prevention, committed to contributing in a significant way to the implementation of international strategies against crime. UNAFRI thus could be seen also as a mechanism for regional integration. Funding from the United Nations, plus support from elsewhere, would enable UNAFRI to offer with greater efficiency the technical assistance that African nations needed.
* *** *For information media • not an official record