Fifty-sixth General Assembly
10th Meeting (PM)
WITH STRONG POLITICAL WILL, GOVERNMENTS COULD DEVELOP UN CONVENTION
AGAINST CORRUPTION BY 2003, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD
Many Say Globalization Creates Atmosphere in Which Corruption Can Thrive
Continuing their debate on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control issues, several members of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Culture) this afternoon described national, regional and international efforts to stem corrupt practices.
Corruption, they said, was a formidable global problem that violated and undermined public trust. Many said the spread of globalization -- which opened up borders, liberalized trade and increased the flow of commerce and capital between States -- also created an atmosphere in which corruption could thrive.
In the era of globalization, the delegate of Indonesia said, it was important to have a binding document on the international level. His Government supported the convening of an intergovernmental open-ended expert group to prepare draft terms of reference for the negotiation of a future legal instrument against corruption. By working together and showing strong political will, Member States could develop the United Nations Convention against Corruption by 2003, he predicted.
Indonesia, he continued, was doing its part in winning back the trust of its public by attempting to extract the cancer of corruption from society. The President of Indonesia requested that all Cabinet Members report on all their wealth to a Government commission. This small step was to become the starting point for a much larger effort for social change. Further, there were about 7,000 high-ranking officials who were obliged to complete forms concerning wealth and submit them to the commission. The Government hoped it would set an example for other nations to follow.
The representative of Venezuela supported sanctions at the international level to dissuade corrupt practices. That Government played a crucial role in the adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. Others said that corruption exacted high costs from often limited public budgets, which in turn diverted revenues away from social development programmes.
It was these programmes, according to others, which could ultimately steer poorer, drug-producing nations on a path toward sustainability.
There was a clear link, said the representative of San Marino, between poverty and the increase in drug production and trafficking. In some developing
countries, drug cultivation was the most profitable activity. There were no economic means to convert those crops into viable and legal produce. Poor countries needed to be provided with alternative that would allow them to achieve better living standards without having to carry on illegal and immoral activities.
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Jamaica (speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), China, Algeria, Sudan, Brazil, Slovakia, Israel, Czech Republic, Pakistan, and Guatemala.
The Committee will meet again tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of issues related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) this afternoon continued its consideration of items related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control. For details, see Press Release GA/SHC/3632 of 12 October.
The Committee had before it the Genoa Summit 2001 Communiqué (document A/56/222-S/2001/736), which was adopted by the Heads of States and Government of the G-8 (major industrialized democracies and representatives of the European Union), held in Genoa, Italy from 20 to 22 July 2001. According to the communiqué, the G-8 leaders convened their first Summit of the new millennium to discuss the most pressing issues on the international agenda. The document also contained the “Genoa Plan for Africa”, in which the leaders agreed to support African efforts to resolve problems on that Continent. They welcomed the New African Initiative, which provides a basis for a new intensive partnership between Africa and the developed world.
Further to the Communiqué, the leaders pledged to seek enhanced cooperation and solidarity with developing countries based on a mutual cooperation for combating poverty and promoting social development. Among the many key global challenges identified, several fell under the Committee’s purview and would be discussed during the current session, including governance regimes to fight corruption, efforts to combat transnational organized crime and strengthening efforts to curb trafficking and use of illegal drugs. The G-8 accepted Canada’s invitation to meet again next year in the province of Alberta, from 26-28 June.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community of States (CARICOM), said last year's historic Millennium Summit remained a fundamental point of reference for the Member States of CARICOM, given its role in reaffirming the global commitment to counter the world drug problem at the highest political level. There could be no question that achieving measurable results in the fight against crime and illicit drugs required the highest level of international commitment and cooperation. While many steps had been taken, the true test would be the nature of efforts taken in the coming years to fulfil the goals that had been set.
The geographic locations of Caribbean States, with their attractiveness to traffickers as a trans-shipment point for illicit drugs, had compounded regional security concerns, particularly in light of the link between drugs, corruption, money laundering and small arms. The threat to State legitimacy and regional stability arising from drug-related criminal activities, the effect of drug abuse on the region's youth and the disintegration of communities and social structures were among the most urgent concerns, she added. The small economies of the region were particularly vulnerable to those problems, and required the development of strong and efficient institutional capabilities to address the social, legislative and economic ramifications of the drug trade. In response to those challenges, CARICOM implemented a number of regional and bilateral initiatives aimed at strengthening national capacities to address the problems associated with the demand for, supply of and trafficking in illicit drugs.
Developing a better understanding of the relationship between crime and sustainable development, and poverty and stability, was an imperative, she said. Success in the fight against transnational organized crime depended largely on the ability of States to achieve equitable growth, integrate themselves into the global economy and to ensure that their populations benefited equitably from the new opportunities. CARICOM strongly held that the international community had to join together to meet the challenges of transnational organized crime, not only through a comprehensive international legal framework, but also through cooperation in the areas of debt reduction, poverty alleviation, reforming the international financial structure and improvements to international commercial relations, which had the potential to create social dislocation and to breed a conducive environment for criminality. Small States, like those in the region, were particularly vulnerable and, given the global nature of organized crime, when the security of one State or a group of States was threatened by criminality, no country in the world was safe. It was therefore necessary to ensure that cooperation was comprehensive and involved all areas of concern.
XIE BOHUA (China) said illicit drugs were the enemy of humanity. Drugs posed a grave threat to social stability and human security, particularly in developing countries. Cultivation, production and consumption of illicit drugs were on the rise worldwide. With the spread of globalization, along with a more liberalized flow of trade, commerce and capital between and among States, drug-related crimes had become more sophisticated and organized. It was imperative, therefore, that the international community recognize the illicit drug phenomenon in all its aspects and adopt and enforce timely counter measures.
He said the Chinese Government had made great efforts to implement the goals of the 1998 General Assembly special session devoted to countering the world drug problem by elaborating measures and strategies to combat drugs worldwide. In 1999, China had launched “drug free community” activities nationwide, aimed at youth, and focusing on education and prevention strategies.
This year, China’s law enforcement placed heavy emphasis on cutting off the sources and stopping the flow of illicit drugs, he said. Vigorous efforts aimed at combating drug trafficking had, in the first half of the year alone, resulted in the confiscation of 6.2 tonnes of heroin. While acknowledging the necessity of national efforts, China also attached great importance to close international cooperation. In that regard, China had established a close working relationship with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in order to effectively combat criminal networks operating within the “Golden Triangle”.
ABDELOUAHAB OSMANE (Algeria) said drugs and drug addiction were real dangers to society and posed significant risks to the most vulnerable members of the population, namely children. The various local measures made to reduce demand and control supply had to be taken at the national and international levels as well. There needed to be legal cooperation at the international level to decide upon issues such as border control. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) had adopted an action plan on narcotics last year that encouraged Member States to adopt the various United Nations conventions that dealt with crime and drugs.
The trafficking and usage of drugs was also a focus of action at the national level in Algeria, he said. Seminars on the root causes of usage were held. Traffickers had used Algeria as a port before, and the Government was committed to combating this. It was, for example, vital to address the illicit transfers of funds in drug trafficking. Drugs affected health and general well-being. Algeria was affected by violent terrorism, and it pledged to undertake any measures to help humanity to face up to that challenge.
ILHAM MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan) said international drug control was the responsibility of all States. The entire global family must ensure adherence to relevant international instruments and at the same time must also remain vigilant concerning the guiding principles of the Charter, namely respect for State sovereignty and territorial integrity. Money laundering, which went hand in hand with the illicit drug trade, often financed terrorist networks and other illegal activities. Those networks threatened the peace and security of all nations. In Africa today there had been a resurgence of conflicts, mainly due to the arms available to subversives as a result of money laundering activities. It was imperative for all States to work with the United Nations to ensure that all relevant international instruments and mechanisms were implemented at all levels to stop that growing trend.
She said that the Sudan’s geographical position could contribute to that country being used as a transit route for drug trade. The State had taken considerable efforts to put in place laws -- including capital punishment for those involved in drug trafficking -- in order to ensure that would not occur. It had also enacted several correlative measures aimed at protecting the environment and fighting corruption. Her Government had made every effort to comply with the outcome of the Assembly special session on countering the world drug problem together. The Sudan added its support to work being undertaken to elaborate an international legal instrument that would fight against corruption.
BALI MONIAGA (Indonesia) said crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control continued to occupy a prominent place on the international agenda. Over the years, there had been a realization that those problems could not be resolved by any single nation, and that a global response was necessary to combat that global threat. Indeed, great strides had been made, and cooperation and coordination had been strengthened, at the international, regional and bilateral levels.
Important to Indonesia was the decision to convene an intergovernmental open-ended expert group to prepare draft terms of reference for the negotiation of a future legal instrument against corruption, he said. By working together and showing a strong political will, Member States could develop the United Nations Convention against Corruption by 2003. Indonesia, for its part, was fully committed and willing to contribute actively toward a successful outcome. For some time now, Indonesia had been conducting a strenuous effort to extract the cancer of corruption from society. Corruption would be addressed as a formidable problem, a problem that violated the public trust. To that end, the President of Indonesia requested that all cabinet members report on all their wealth to a Government commission. This small step was to become the starting point for a much larger effort for social change. In addition, there were about 7,000 high-ranking officials who were obliged to complete forms concerning wealth and submit them to the commission. It was an effort that was underway to regain the public trust in elected officials, and to set examples for others in the nation to follow.
On terrorism, he said there should be no doubt that Indonesia stood with the international community, through the United Nations, in fighting against terrorism and the senseless death and destruction wrought on innocent people. Cooperation on all levels had to be made evident so that this problem could be tackled by the entire community of nations.
LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said Brazil had been one of the many States that had signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary protocols in Palermo last year. That instrument had received a record number of 123 opening signatures, reflecting the strong commitment of the international community to combat such crime. The Brazilian Government had made the promotion of international cooperation in combating transnational crime a national priority. The country’s Ministry of Justice had worked closely with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme and had requested assistance in the implementation of enhanced academic programmes on criminal justice at the university level.
He said that at the regional level, Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries, along with Bolivia and Chile had decided last year to create a working group to identify ways to harmonize legislation and the regulation of trade in firearms and ammunition, as well as to examine the links between the illicit traffic in drugs and firearms. At the national level, Brazil had implemented consistent policy measures aimed at combating illicit drug trade and consumption, he said. It was also modernizing its administrative structures. He was aware that much remained to be done, as the use of synthetic drugs was on the rise, and drug trafficking networks required constant monitoring. Positive developments in those areas were dependent on the adoption of a comprehensive strategy that took into account prevention and rehabilitation measures, as well as measures to combat related criminal activities.
ELENA MOLARONI (San Marino) said there had been so much talk about drugs that it had become a routine issue. The international community had become accustomed to indifference towards the drug problem. That was unforgivable. When sensitivity towards an issue was lost, that was when society was overcome, when society did not mean anymore what it said, or how it approached the issue. That was when no progress was made. After the 20th Special Session, in June 1998, which was devoted to countering the world drug problem, San Marino signed and ratified all international conventions on drugs, and pledged to work toward the improved international cooperation which was needed.
She said in signing the international conventions, San Marino committed itself to fight money laundering and stopping the recycling of earnings from illegal activities. That was the basic duty of any country seriously devoted to eradicating the deadly trade. There was also evidence that players in organized crime and drug dealers financed terrorism. That was one more reason to adopt careful control systems at a national level to stop money laundering.
On addiction, she said what was done in individual countries to rehabilitate young people already addicted to drugs was not enough. Attention had to be paid to the production fields -- a tough obstacle because of poverty. There was a clear link between poverty and the increase in drug production and trafficking. In some poor countries, drug cultivation was the most profitable activity. There were no economic means to convert those crops into less harmful kinds. Poor countries needed to be provided with other possibilities that would allow them to achieve better living standards without having to carry on illegal and immoral activities.
JURAJ PRIPUTEN (SLOVAKIA)said his country attached great importance to United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice activities. A major step in that regard was the adoption last year of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols. Slovakia, which had signed the instruments in Palermo, considered the Convention a major tool in the fight against organized crime. His country also supported all steps towards the elaboration of an effective and binding international legal instrument against corruption. To that end, comprehensive negotiations must take into account the facts that monitoring mechanisms must be effective yet flexible, and that the commitments of all parties to any such convention must be equal.
He went on to say that globalization had significantly impacted the spread of transnational organized crime, particularly trafficking in human beings. Since 1990, human trafficking flows had increased sharply throughout Europe. Slovakia welcomed efforts of the UNDCP to begin implementing the Eastern European project against human trafficking in the Slovak Republic, its main objective was to improve criminal justice responses to that phenomenon by strengthening national, regional and international policies.
AVRAHAM MILLO (Israel) said there was great concern that the money generated by drug trafficking continued to move around the world at the push of buttons, and did so with devastating effects. Israel fully shared the concern that the drug problem was a major challenge for individuals, as well as States. Israel was committed to all international conventions on drug abuse and the illicit trafficking of psychoactive substances.
For almost a decade now, Israel had been trying to foster regional cooperation with its neighbours -- Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians -- to combat the drug problem more effectively. It was believed that such cooperation should be encouraged through the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), he said. Plans existed for providing technical assistance to the Palestinians to fight drug trafficking in the areas under their control. Obviously, such measures could be implemented once the security situation improved. For several years, Israel had offered training in fighting drug abuse to professionals from developing countries. Also, UNDCP's assistance was needed to help upgrade the operational capabilities of the Israeli Police, with regard to the prevention of illicit trafficking across its borders.
IVANA GROLLOVA (Czech Republic) highlighted the work of the 44th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), for which her country held chairmanship. Since its 43rd session, the Commission had structured its agenda into two segments: an operational segment followed by a normative segment. In its operational segment, it fulfilled its role as the governing body of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), approved the budget of the Fund for the UNDCP and set overall operational guidelines. In the normative phase of its work, the CND monitored progress in the implementation of relevant mandates received from the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
In addition to those changes, she said that the CND had held its first-ever thematic debate this year. Eschewing the normal practice of holding a general debate, that session had included an interactive dialogue with an international panel of experts to enliven the discussions on specific issues. Participants at the Commission’s 44th session also identified several priorities aimed at strengthening the UNDCP’s role as the central coordinator of international drug control efforts. Those included increased support to Governments to counter the threat of synthetic drugs, and increased attention to the problem of drugs in Africa. Another innovation during her country’s chairmanship had been the convening of inter-sessional meetings which provided an opportunity for its Members to, among other things, receive up-to-date information on relevant issues and to exchange views concerning developments on the world drug scene.
ISHTIAQ HUSSAIN ANDRABI (Pakistan) said drug trafficking and organized crime were interrelated and interdependent. They posed serious challenges to the national security and social stability of a country. Organized crime was a reprehensible manifestation of lawlessness. It transcended national boundaries and was often beyond the reach of national mechanisms. Drug trafficking, the mainstay of organized transnational crime, was itself a serious threat and a complex problem of unparalleled proportions. Globalization had given a new dimension to the link between the two. Drug cartels and groups involved in organized crime had taken advantage of the benefits of globalization, such as the deregulation of capital and financial markets, soft borders, easier means of communication and advanced information and communication technologies. Their growing outreach warranted redoubled efforts by the international community to effectively counter those activities.
The observations of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) that Pakistan, Iran and other Central Asian countries were vulnerable to trafficking and abuse were pertinent. The international community should increase the support provided to those countries, which were the first barrier to the flow of drugs from Afghanistan, he said. Pakistan remained committed to the objectives and goals of the 20th special session of the General Assembly. Through continued relentless efforts, Pakistan had sustained its zero poppy cultivation status for the second year in a row. The success had been made possible by a mix of development interventions and firm enforcement action, with active participation by community-based organizations and village development committees.
Only two decades ago, Pakistan was a drug- and weapon-free country, he said. Their proliferation in society was a direct fallout from the developments in Afghanistan. There was determination to make Pakistan once again a drug and weapon-free society. The Government had already launched a vigorous de-weaponization campaign, while progress achieved in counter-narcotics had been widely acknowledged. The anti-money laundering actions had made it difficult to siphon illegal money. Pakistan was proud of its contributions to the international alliance against transnational organized crimes.
CONNIE TARACENA (Guatemala) highlighted the direct implications organized criminal activity, corruption and the international drug trade had on violence, mafia activity and terrorism in the Central American Region. To combat those phenomena, Guatemala’s Government had established a commission overseen by the Vice-President, seven ministers and the Attorney General. That group maintained close relationships with the UNDCP. The Office of the Minister of the Interior also monitored illicit drug trade activities and coordinated activities aimed at reducing demand. Those raised social awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. The Government was also coordinating many of its strategies with the work being done by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to tackle the problem of illicit drug trade.
She went on to say that bilateral agreements had been signed between Guatemala and Mexico so that territorial waters could be opened up to allow pursuit of drug traffickers. At present, a regional action plan was also being implemented aimed at reducing demand for drugs. The Committee provided the
perfect forum to reiterate the necessity of ratifying and implementing all United Nations conventions and instruments aimed at combating trafficking in drugs and related criminal activity.
MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) said there had to be an international approach to combat corruption. Venezuela had placed emphasis on transparency. The Government gave importance to reforms in the public sector, in all three branches of government. The financial sector in Venezuela was working with the Government to stop money laundering, and thus, corruption. Sanctions had also been imposed to discourage corrupt practices.
He said the Government supported sanctions at the international level. Venezuela was ready and willing to work toward the end of corruption across the world. The country had played a central role in the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. Concerning the use of information technology for transnational crime, Venezuela favoured an international treaty that punished cyber-crimes. The National Assembly was working on a law against computer crimes, which weighed security issues against the right to privacy. That law should be passed within the next few days. The country was also discussing the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which it had signed last year.
Venezuela had programmes of early intervention to ensure that children stayed off of drugs, he said. High-risk children, like street children, had been targeted. Preventive policies directed towards young people should be accompanied by a general strategy including the mobilization of persons such as teachers and community leaders who could transmit anti-drug messages to society.
* *** *