Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to Security Council Debate on Organized Crime as a Threat to International Peace and Security

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Security Council, 24 February 2010

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the French presidency for putting this important issue on the agenda of the Security Council.

Transnational issues, including drug trafficking and organized crime, are increasingly on the Council's agenda. This reflects the seriousness of the threat.

Indeed, drug trafficking and organized crime affect almost all aspects of the UN's work: development, security, the environment, and the rule of law.

But seen from a different perspective, this also means that all our work, in every sphere, can reduce the risk and impact of transnational threats.

That is why our response must be global and integrated, both within the UN family, and as a family of nations.

First, the global response:

Member States have united to fight pandemics, poverty, climate change and terrorism. We can and must do the same to counter organized crime.

Already, Member States have worked together on a number of important initiatives. These include the General Assembly's efforts against drugs, the Kimberly process against blood diamonds, and the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

But there is so much more to be done against emerging threats like cyber-crime, money-laundering, environmental crime, and the dumping of hazardous waste.

The Crime Prevention Congress to be held in April in Salvador, Brazil, offers an opportunity to explore how we can strengthen the legal and operational means to fight them.

This year is also the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. I urge you to sharpen this powerful instrument at the Conference of Parties in October. One of the most important improvements would be the establishment of a monitoring mechanism.

In this work, we should not only focus on what we are battling against. We must never lose sight of what we are fighting for: that is, justice and the rule of law.

We can not fight fire with fire. The criminals use ruthless and exploitative methods which we can never contemplate. Human rights must always be at the forefront of efforts to control crime.

Distinguished members of the Council,

My second key word today is integration.

Integration is essential at many levels.

Nationally, agencies must pull together to fight all aspects of crime.

Regionally, states must share information and carry out joint operations. This is not always easy. Lack of capacity and lack of trust often cause problems.

Lack of capacity can be overcome. We have seen this in West Africa, where vulnerability to drugs and crime is being reduced thanks to the work of ECOWAS in support of the Praia Process. The West Africa Coast Initiative involving UNODC, DPKO, and DPA is also a good example of the “one UN” approach.

I urge you to support similar regional initiatives, like the Santo Domingo Pact launched here at the United Nations today, which has the same aims for Central America and the Caribbean.

As for building trust: experience shows that tackling common threats can build confidence and good-neighbourly relations between countries that may otherwise have their differences. Initiatives to share information on the drug trade in West Asia, Central Asia and the Gulf are among the examples where this has happened.

With transnational threats, States have no choice but to work together. We are all affected – whether as countries of supply, trafficking or demand. Therefore we have a shared responsibility to act.

I welcome the Security Council's Presidential statement of 8 December 2009, in which you called for the issue of drug trafficking and organized crime to be mainstreamed into the UN's work throughout the conflict cycle.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime continues to carry out important work in providing the evidence on these transnational threats, and the technical assistance with which to respond.

Transnational networks create vectors of violence that blaze trails of death and destruction through some of the world's most vulnerable regions. Crime prevention is conflict prevention: together they build safer and healthier societies. Criminal justice should figure more prominently in UN peacebuilding and peace-keeping.

Finally, there is a need for timely action. The Council's most recent Presidential statement also recommended that I provide more information on transnational threats. I will work more closely with all relevant parts of the UN system to bring impending threats to your attention. In return, I urge you to ensure that early warning is followed up by early action.

Together, let us prevent drug trafficking and organized crime from threatening international peace and security and all our hard-won work, across our agenda.

Thank you Mr. President.