INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION NEEDED TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS DEBATE ON CRIME, DRUGS CONTINUES

16 October 2001
GA/SHC/3635

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION NEEDED TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS DEBATE ON CRIME, DRUGS CONTINUES

16/10/2001
Press ReleaseGA/SHC/3635

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Committee

11th Meeting (PM)

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION NEEDED TO COMBAT MONEY LAUNDERING,

THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS DEBATE ON CRIME, DRUGS CONTINUES

Draft Resolutions Introduced on Social Development,

Family, Cooperatives, Disabled Persons, Literacy, Older Persons

As it neared the completion of the comprehensive debate on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told by a host of Member States that money laundering was a problem that financed a variety of international scourges, among them terrorism, the illegal acquisition of firearms, trafficking in humans and trafficking in drugs.

Such transnational crime, others said, created an atmosphere of instability, hampering the development process.  Several representatives spoke of the need to cooperate regionally and internationally in order to combat money laundering, in particular, and other transnational crime in general.

The representative of Cuba said no country, no matter how wealthy, was in a position by itself to tackle the international crime.  Transnational partnerships that shared experiences and best practices were the best way to formulate policies and mechanisms that would slow the spread of such crime.

The delegate of Tanzania hailed the cooperation of the partners of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which had adopted programmes for information exchange to combat money laundering.  In fact, he said, plans were unde way to establish the headquarters of the SADC Money Laundering Unit in

Dar-es-Salaam.  The coordination also led to the establishment of training programmes for law enforcement officers, as well as reformed laws to facilitate prosecution of offenders.

Speaking about the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the representative of Sri Lanka noted that it contained an important legal framework for the international community's efforts to address the issue of the illicit manufacturing of firearms.  But, he continued, the result of the recent United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms should have been more ambitious -- there should have been a more comprehensive Action Plan in order to provide a foundation for international cooperation to combat cross-border crimes.

The delegate from Kenya said his Government was forced to close its borders with a neighbouring country in August to slow the flow of illegal small arms and

11th Meeting (PM)                                      16 )ctober 2001

light weapons.  The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he noted, went hand in hand with other transnational crimes, most particularly the drug trade.

Representatives from Myanmar, Ukraine, Uganda, Australia (on behalf of the CANZ Group), Kazakhstan (on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States), Poland, Malaysia and Nigeria also spoke.

Earlier in the meeting, representatives of Chile, Benin, Mongolia, Philippines, and Iran (on behalf of the Group of 77) introduced draft resolutions on items related to social development, including implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly; preparations for and observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family; cooperatives in social development; implementation of the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons; a United Nations literacy decade:  education for all; and a follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., when it is expected to conclude its consideration of items related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to continue 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 was also expected to hear the introduction of eight draft resolutions on items related to social development, including the world social situation, education, ageing, disabled persons and the family:

According to a draft on implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/56/L.11), introduced by the representative of Chile, the Assembly would encourage coordinated and mutually reinforcing follow-up to the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action, the further initiatives for social development and the 2000 Millennium Declaration.

Also by that text, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Commission for Social Development, the regional commissions, the relevant agencies funds and programmes of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental forums, within their mandates and as a priority, to take all necessary and coordinated steps to ensure the effective implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, and to continue to be actively involved in their follow-up.

The representative of Benin introduced a draft on preparations for and observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (document A/C.3/56/L.7).  That text contained amendments to specific preambular and operative paragraphs of a related resolution (document A/C.3/56/L.2) by which the Assembly would urge governments to view 2004 as a target year by which concrete achievements should be made to identify and elaborate issues of direct concern to families.

According to the draft before the Committee this afternoon, by an amendment to operative paragraph 2 of document A/C.3/56/L.7 would have the Assembly encourage the regional commissions, within their respective mandates and resources to participate in the preparatory process of the tenth anniversary and to play an active role in facilitating regional cooperation in that regard.

By a resolution on cooperatives in social development (document A/C.3/56/L.8), introduced by the representative of Mongolia, the Assembly would urge governments, relevant international organizations and specialized agencies, in collaboration with national and international cooperative organizations, to give due consideration to the role and contribution of cooperatives in the implementation of the follow-up to the outcomes of the following international conferences:  the World Summit for Social Development; the Fourth World Conference on Women; the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), and the World Food Summit, and their five-year reviews.

According to a resolution on implementation of the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons: towards a society for all in the twenty-first century (document A/C.3/56/L.9), which was introduced by the representative of the Philippines, the Assembly would call upon governments to undertake all necessary measures to advance beyond the adoption of national plans for people with disabilities.  Among other things, governments should create or reinforce arrangements for the promotion and awareness of disability issues and allocation of sufficient resources for the full implementation of existing plans and initiatives.

The representative of Mongolia introduced a resolution on a United Nations literacy decade:  education for all (document A/C.3/56/L.10).  By that draft, the Assembly would urge all governments to take the lead in coordinating the activities for the decade at the national level, bringing together all relevant national actors in a sustained dialogue in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation of literacy efforts.

The representative of Iran, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a resolution on Follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons (document A/C.3/56/L.6), by which the Assembly invites all relevant agencies and bodies of the United Nations system to better coordinate their response to the global ageing of populations and integrate within their respective mandates their programmes and activities related to the elderly.

Statements

HLA MYINT (Myanmar) said in the past, the responsibility of illicit drugs had fallen upon the supplier countries.  It was satisfying to see a resolution adopted by the twentieth special session of the General Assembly in 1998, which recognized that the most effective approach to the drug problem should consist of a comprehensive, balanced and coordinated approach, by which supply control and demand reduction reinforced each other, together with the appropriate application of the principle of shared responsibility. 

Although Myanmar was a developing country with its own share of economic problems, it was firmly committed to the elimination of the scourge of narcotic drugs, he said.  From September 1998 to April 2001, law enforcement agencies had seized over 31 tons of opium, over 4 tons of heroin, and 34,634 liters of Phensedyl, as well as 17.6 tons of ephedrine and 82.5 million tablets of methamphetamine.  They were seized and destroyed as witnessed by officials from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the international community.

He said that history had handed down a terrible legacy.  The country was unfortunate because of its geographic conditions, as well as the many decades of armed insurgency in the border areas.  That had left the country's border areas conducive to growing illicit drug crops.  If a look was taken at the global picture, it could be seen that the areas cultivating illicit drug crops had many factors in common -- isolation, a lack of peace and stability, underdevelopment and poverty.  For decades, peace had eluded the part of Myanmar included in the infamous Golden Triangle.  The hill tribes living in the area depended on opium poppy cultivation to sustain themselves. 

In the past, the physical destruction of the poppy fields had been the major concern of the national drug suppression plan, he said.  And even though physical destruction of the poppy fields seemed appealing, without offering an alternative income to the farmers it was not a sustained drug suppression method.  Myanmar was now implementing its national drug suppression programme with a new philosophy and a new approach.  The first major steps had been taken when the Government reached a ceasefire agreement with the insurgent groups.  A separate Ministry for the Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs had been established, which was given a significant part of a very limited budget, to carry out development programmes exclusively for border areas.

NALLATHAMBY NAVARATNARAJAH, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, said the ongoing process of globalization had led to an exacerbation of transnational organized criminal activity and international drug trafficking.  Indeed, the increasingly widespread nature of such organized activity has made clear their direct links to international criminal networks and terrorist groups.  Further, irrespective of their ideological leanings, the level of cooperation between such groups had reached a level that could only be countered through innovative and concerted international intervention.

He said the international community must focus on, among other things, the dramatic increase in illegal activity related to the actions of criminal networks, including illegal acquisition of firearms, money laundering, drug smuggling and trafficking in persons.  While the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime provided an important legal framework for the international community’s efforts to address the issue of illicit manufacture of firearms, the outcome of the recent United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms should have been more ambitious.  Sri Lanka would like to have seen a more comprehensive Action Plan in order to provide a foundation for international cooperation on means to address that scourge.

LUIS ALBERTO AMORÓS NÚÑEZ (Cuba) said globalization not only widened the gap between rich and poor, at the same time, it also was providing opportunities to the criminals of the world.  The largest Mafia syndicates in the world used the newest technologies and globalized polices to increase their reach.  They benefited from opened borders, which made transport easier, and from liberalized financial policies, which made moving money around easier.  The international drug trade, and the trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, was made easier.  Money laundering was made easier, which helped finance some of those crimes.  No country was in a position by itself, no matter the backing of any economic giant, to tackle the problem of international crime.

Regional and international agreements allowed countries to share experiences and best practices to combat transnational organized crime.  Cuba supported the work done against corruption.  Cuba had fought against it to ensure that it did not prosper there.  It was important to respect the national laws of countries -- that was crucial for international cooperation.  International cooperation could not be effective without meeting that prerequisite.  That was not an option -- it was a necessity.

DINA NESKOROZHANA (Ukraine) said along with the modern technological revolution had come a new threat to humankind’s security and well-being:  computer terrorism.  Such terrorism and other high-tech, computer-oriented criminal activities might have disastrous consequences for all, and future international legal instruments and mechanisms should clearly reflect the serious nature of such a threat.  She added that in order to fully implement the measures set forth in the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, it was necessary to take decisive action against corruption.

Ukraine supported previous suggestions for the need to elaborate a new internationally binding document to fight corruption.  She said Ukraine was also particularly concerned at the close links between transnational organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.  Although governments bore the main responsibility for implementing the measures set out in the Plan of Action adopted at the twentieth special session of the Assembly, the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) should continue to play a role in the fight against new emerging drug abuse trends, as well as international awareness-raising and consolidation of international political commitments.

She said that one of Ukraine’s most important achievements in the efforts to prevent crime and combat drug trafficking had been its adoption this year of a new criminal code.  That code attached criminal responsibility to various activities, including the creation of organized crime groups and direct or indirect assistance in their activities, and production, smuggling and use of illicit drugs.

DAUDI MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said the Government was fully committed to the fight against crime, drug trafficking and the use of illicit drugs.  Internally, legislation had been enacted which imposed stiffer penalties on those convicted of drug trafficking.  The objective was to bring the laws in line with the obligations under international instruments that Tanzania had ratified.  The Government had also launched programmes for drug rehabilitation.  So far, there had been modest gains, but the problems were complex.  Tanzania, however, appreciated the cooperation it had received from its partners.  There was no escaping the fact that the country itself lacked the requisite resources and capacity to achieve success.  It was, therefore, important to develop partnerships that would help enhance assistance to the Government.

Money laundering, he said, was a problem.  Tanzania, in cooperation with partners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), had adopted programmes for information exchange to combat money laundering.  In fact, plans were under way to establish the headquarters of the SADC Money Laundering Unit in Dar-es-Salaam.  Also put in place were training programmes for law enforcement officers, as well as reformed laws to facilitate prosecution of offenders.

CATHERINE OTITI (Uganda) said regional and national institutions should be strengthened and provided with adequate resources so that cooperation with international agencies in the fight against criminal activity, the illicit drug trade and terrorism could be enhanced.  Success hinged on cooperation at all levels.  With that in mind, she hoped the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) would be strengthened so that it could effectively confront the alarming upsurge of criminal activity on the continent. 

Even with its meager funds, however, she said UNAFRI attempted to implement its mandate.  She had been encouraged to hear of the Institute’s recent implementation of a survey on Illicit Trafficking in Firearms in Africa, as well as its participation in several regional and international meetings on crime prevention.  She was grateful for the bilateral assistance the Institute had received from the Unites States, the European Union and the Australian Institute for Criminology, among others.  Still, the full potential of the Institute could not be realized without adequate funding. 

She also hoped the international efforts to fight terrorism in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the host country would include the strengthening of national institutions for crime prevention, law enforcement and criminal justice administration.  In the not too distant past, American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania had been attacked by terrorists, and Uganda had been the target of activities by rebel groups.  The East African community would work together to ensure that terrorism would not revisit the region.  Efforts to elaborate an effective and responsive anti-terrorism action plan for those three States were currently under way.

GUY O'BRIEN (Australia), speaking on behalf of the CANZ Group (Canada,

New Zealand and Australia) said despite the best efforts of the international community, drug abuse continued to inflict massive suffering around the world.  While national and domestic policies would always be important in dealing with the impact of drug abuse, the threat was now of such scale that governments alone lacked the necessary resources to control it.  Concerted international cooperation and collaboration must underpin effective and comprehensive action, he added.

He went on to say that while efforts to implement the outcome of the twentieth special session of the Assembly on countering the world drug problem together had achieved some significant successes -- notably in the areas of crop eradication and substitution -- the emergence of new technologies had led to the development of new illicit substances and fresh markets that could be exploited by criminal networks.  For example, in many countries that were struggling to cope with the social, legal and health challenges posed by abuse of amphetamine-type substances (ATS) on a massive scale, particularly among youth, it had become clear that the international community must never allow its efforts to become complacent.

He went on to say that the global narcotics trade exploited social economic and political vulnerabilities.  Therefore, proactive, collaborative partnerships, which maximized the strengths and levels of expertise of international papers, were essential.  He added that since the overriding objective of transnational criminal groups was the generation of profits, it was also important to improve the level of international cooperation to deny criminals access to the proceeds of illegal activities.  In that regard he urged Member States to support and cooperate with international institutions such as the Financial Action Task Force.  He noted the valuable contribution provided by the UNDP's Global Programme on Money Laundering.

MADINA JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan), speaking for the Commonwealth of Independent States, said illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and drug abuse were among the most dangerous problems facing the world.  Drugs, in spite of all the efforts of the world community, still constituted a serious threat not only to the health, lives and dignity of millions of people, but also to the political stability of States, and to global international security.  There was special concern about a link between drug trafficking and other serious crimes, such as terrorism, money laundering, smuggling, and other activities of transnational organized crime groups.  This worldwide drug epidemic could be countered only through coordinated and effective actions by the international community as a whole.  The strengthening of the role of the United Nations as the most powerful instrument in developing international cooperation to combat drug threats was extremely important and necessary.

She said one of the major efficient mechanisms of the international collaboration in the eradication of illicit drug trafficking was regional interaction.  Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) were making necessary efforts at the national, regional and subregional levels, to ensure implementation of the agreed measures and also coordination of the joint actions to combat the drug threat.  Those measures made it possible to assess and predict the development of the drug situation.  They also allowed the countries to draw up a joint, unified policy for combating international drug crime, taking into account the situation that was emerging through their entire area.

MAREK MADEJ (Poland) said that on the issues of crime prevention and criminal justice, Poland felt that absolute priority should be given to the prevention and combating of international organized crime and corruption.  Those phenomena were often interconnected, in the sense that corruption was one of the methods of organized crime.  The effective combating of organized crime and corruption required national legislation of a complex and comprehensive nature.  But even the best laws would not solve the problem if they were not enforced with the maximum resources, and implemented resolutely and scrupulously.  Crucially important in combating organized crime was the economic factor -- in addition to concentrating on prosecution and punishment, equal attention had to be paid to the elimination of illegal income.

Since contemporary crime crossed boundaries of States, he said, close international cooperation was a “must”.  The cooperation had to be on all possible levels and among all players involved, including the police, prosecutors and courts.  Further, an important role would have to be played by international organizations, most notably the United Nations, where international legal instruments were prepared and adopted.  Those instruments provided not only a basis for international cooperation but, by developing international law, created new international standards.

ZAINUDDIN YAHYA (Malaysia) said that as globalization dismantled barriers between States, the international community was now faced with a plethora of crimes that transcended national boundaries.  The spread of new information technologies also led to an increase in international economic crimes.  To effectively counter and prevent the growth of such crimes, it was imperative that joint action be taken at national, regional and international levels.  To that end, Malaysia welcomed the adoption of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols as a signal of the international community’s resolve to fight that menace to global security and the rule of law.

He said that another noteworthy development during the past year had been the start of negotiations on an international legal instrument against corruption. Corruption undermined the values of democracy and jeopardized social, economic and political development.  For its part, Malaysia had established an Anti-Corruption Agency with specific powers and resources to investigate allegations of corruption.

He said that events of 11 September highlighted the urgency of the need to combat terrorism, which might well be the most complex security challenge facing the world today.  Measures against terrorism must be consistent with universally recognized principles governing international relations and international law.  He noted that the far-reaching effects of the terrorist attacks on the host country

had now put the spectacular success achieved in stemming poppy cultivation in Afghanistan in jeopardy of being reversed. 

He said that air strikes by the United States on Afghanistan would most certainly result in a humanitarian crisis, and to a people with very little left to lose, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan may soon be on the rise again.  He strongly appealed to the relevant international agencies and the wider international community to continue providing humanitarian aid for the Afghan people.

BOB JALANG'O (Kenya) said his Government, in its efforts to fight the drug menace, had closed one of its borders with a neighbouring country last August, in an effort to curb the trade in illicit small arms and light weapons that were being brought into Kenya.  The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons went hand in hand with the drug trade.  The acute poverty and increased unemployment had rendered the youth of Kenya susceptible to drugs, and this was increasingly becoming a big concern.  His Government had taken a number of measures to curb those problems.  Kenya was committed to fighting crime at the domestic, regional and international levels.

He said the presentations by the UNDCP did not emphasize the magnitude of the drug trafficking problem in Africa, and the picture painted could create an impression that the only places of great concern to the UNDCP were in Asia and Europe.  That was not the case.  Kenya, therefore, welcomed the call by the European Union to provide optimum support for efforts by the African countries to launch sustainable anti-drug programmes at national and regional levels.  Kenya called on the goodwill of the donor community and the United Nations system to assist the UNDCP to increase resources, both human and financial, to enable them to carry out their mandate more effectively.  All States parties were urged to unite in an effort to fight crime in its totality.

ALHAJI BELLO LAFIAJI (Nigeria) said Nigeria welcomed all the efforts made so far towards the elaboration of a convention against corruption.  It was hoped that the convention would facilitate the ability to trace the transfer of funds of illicit origin in order to make it easier to return such funds to their country of origin.  It was a well-known fact that corruption had become a major impediment to socio-economic development in many countries, especially developing countries, and tackling corruption had become a major preoccupation for Nigeria.  Therefore, his Government had put in place legislative and other measures to check corruption in the various sectors of society.  The magnitude of the threat of international organized crime to humanity was exacerbated by the production and trafficking of drugs.  This was because drugs constituted a precursor to most violent crimes, as well as other subtle but equally destructive criminal activities.

It was pertinent to note that a major deficiency on the African continent was training facilities, he said.  That was the reason why the 1992 and 1993 Conferences of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Africa unanimously had endorsed the establishment of an International Drug Control Academy for the region.  In addition to all the drug law enforcement efforts, Nigeria was addressing drug demand reduction with equal vigour.  It had created comprehensive anti-drug campaigns and had undertaken thorough drug abuse education.  Drug abuse education had been put in the curricula of schools in Nigeria.

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For information media. Not an official record.