‘Sinister Nexus’ of Drugs, Crime, Terrorism Must Be Countered by Promoting Health, Justice, Security, Third Committee Told
‘Sinister Nexus’ of Drugs, Crime, Terrorism Must Be Countered by Promoting Health, Justice, Security, Third Committee Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
5th Meeting (PM)
‘Sinister Nexus’ of Drugs, Crime, Terrorism Must Be Countered by Promoting
Health, Justice, Security, Third Committee Told
Head of UN Office on Drugs and Crime Highlights Efforts to Improve Drug
Treatment for Addiction, Provide Development Alternatives for Coca, Opium Farmers
Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), this afternoon called on Governments to counter the sinister nexus of drugs, crime and terrorism by promoting health, justice and security.
Addressing the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) at the start of its general discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and drug control, he said that organized crime was thriving despite major attempts to strengthen Member States’ collective response to drug-related crimes ‑‑ including terrorism ‑‑ through action plans, conventions and the creation of special monitoring bodies.
After 10 years of effort, “people question whether the world has become a safer place”, he said, referring to claims that the United Nations’ drug control efforts had, so far, been failures. Those efforts had included a special session of the General Assembly in 1998, where it launched a 10-year plan of action relating to the threat posed by illicit drugs. Soon after, the Palermo Convention against organized crime was signed in 2000, and the Security Council created the 1267 Committee in response to international terrorism that same year.
Still, criminal organizations remained active, especially in regions with weakened Governments. Not content with supply-side measures, he said the United Nations drugs office was battling drugs, crime and terrorism by promoting health, justice and security. In partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the UNODC was training its sights on combating drug addiction to reduce demand for drugs. One of its goals was to achieve universal access to drug treatment, and to promote social integration of marginalized groups who were pushed to the sidelines because of addiction.
“Addicts should be sent to hospitals, not to jail,” he said. “We promote alternatives to imprisonment and spearhead efforts to improve drug treatment in prisons to prevent the spread of HIV.”
The UNODC was also supporting programmes in Afghanistan, Colombia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Peru and Thailand to create development opportunities for opium and coca farmers, he said. This reduced the world’s supply of illicit drugs by fostering economic growth and security in some poor parts of the world.
At the same time, he said, the legalization of drugs was not a viable solution, stressing that drugs should be controlled because they were harmful. “Increasing the availability of drugs would increase addiction and unleash a social and humanitarian catastrophe.”
In the general discussion that followed, the representative of the United States noted that, although many countries remained under threat from the drug trade and associated crimes, there had been successes. With the support of its allies, Colombia had broken the power of the drug cartels and other illegal groups and restored public order and security in its cities, resulting in great economic progress.
He said Mexico’s Government was also responding with determination and courage to threats posed by organized crime and violent drug cartels. The United States supported those efforts and was working through the framework of the Merida Initiative to promote a closer partnership with Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to prevent, treat and build rule-of-law institutions, in order to confront criminal organizations.
The representative of Kazakhstan, who spoke on behalf of the States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said those States were particularly concerned over the production of drugs in Afghanistan. The northern route out of Afghanistan meant drugs were increasingly available in those countries, where drug use was growing. Work was being done jointly within the region to choke off smuggling, with Afghanistan joining as an observer. Thirty tons of narcotics had been removed from the market.
Several countries applauded the work of the high-level segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March in developing a new Political Declaration and Action Plan to advance work under various United Nations drug conventions. The representative of Mexico said his Government was planning to submit a resolution to give the Declaration the backing that it deserved from the General Assembly, saying it would provide added impetus to agreements adopted 10 years ago.
Also speaking were the representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Japan, Pakistan, Egypt, Belarus, China, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Mr. Costa also engaged in a question-and-answer session with the Committee, fielding questions on the United Nations’ strategy to fight money-laundering, the role of piracy in transit countries, and the Organization’s activities in different regions.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 8 October, to continue its general discussion.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to begin its general discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
The Committee had before it the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/64/121). The report describes the measures being taken by the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders to provide technical support to African countries, which are coping with national and regional crime problems that have been worsened by a vicious cycle of lawlessness and underdevelopment on one side, and increasingly sophisticated transnational organized crime on the other. It provides details on the Institute’s efforts to mobilize regional capacities and institutional collaboration as mechanisms for practical intervention measures in Africa.
The report also examines the Institute’s governance and management structures, and describes measures to initiate and maintain international cooperation, as well as opportunities for funding and support. It contains information on the Institute’s future as a unique institution that promotes regional socio-economic development through crime-prevention initiatives.
Also before the Committee was the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the mandates of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, with particular reference to the technical cooperation activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)(document A/64/123). The report summarizes work by UNODC to support Member States in their efforts to counter transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism, as well as to prevent crime and reinforce criminal justice systems. It contains information on efforts to strengthen the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, with a focus on the role of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice as its governing body.
The report also provides information on preparations for the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which was held in Salvador, Brazil from 12 to 19 April. The report includes information on responses to emerging policy issues, including piracy, cybercrime, sexual exploitation of children and urban crime. Further, it contains recommendations aimed at combating transnational organized crime, corruption and terrorism and enhancing the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme.
The Committee also had before it the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons (document A/64/130). It outlines his efforts, per General Assembly resolution 63/194, to collect the views of all stakeholders on how to achieve the full and effective coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons by Member States and all other partners within and outside the United Nations system. To this end, he submitted a background paper to the General Assembly on 5 May that summarized the views of a diverse group of stakeholders, as well as their responses on the advisability of adopting a global plan of action to prevent trafficking in persons, prosecute traffickers and protect and assist victims.
According to the report, there was consensus during the Assembly’s subsequent interactive dialogue, entitled “Taking Collective Action to End Human Trafficking”, on the need for greater political will and commitment to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, strengthen international efforts and collective action and ensure universal ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, among other relevant international instruments. While some participants stressed that any adoption of a global plan should be based on broad consensus, others cautioned that such a plan would duplicate existing mechanisms. Finally, the report summarizes work by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN-GIFT), the Inter-Agency Cooperation Group against Trafficking in Persons and the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons.
Also before the Committee was a letter dated 28 July from the Permanent Representative of Guinea to the United Nations addressed to the United Nations Secretary-General (document A/64/227-S/2009/402), in which the Government of Guinea urgently appeals to the international community, and particularly the relevant United Nations Programmes and bodies, for support following its discovery of several stockpiles of toxic chemical products used in the manufacture of explosives and narcotics. According to the letter, Guinea needs United Nations support to counter drug trafficking and other criminal and terrorist activities and to help rid it of these chemical products, which are sources of pollution and pose a public health threat during the rainy season.
The Committee also had before it the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/64/120). The report says there were reductions in cocaine and heroin production in 2008, with a 19 per cent reduction in opium poppy production in Afghanistan and an 18 per cent drop in coca production in Colombia. Surveys also suggested that cannabis, cocaine and opiate markets were shrinking. In contrast, the global amphetamine-type stimulant problem seemed to be worsening. Both manufacturing techniques and production locations were diversifying, with a shift from developed to developing countries.
According to the report, illicit drugs continued to pose a health danger to humanity, with drug use remaining one of the top 20 risk factors to health worldwide and one of the top 10 risk factors in high-income countries. The formulation by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem at the close of the decade, launched in 1998 by the special session of the General Assembly on drugs, gave new impetus to international drug control. The onus is now on Member States to follow up and implement these international commitments in order to enhance progress to effectively counter the world drug problem.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the outcome of the high-level segment of the fifty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on progress achieved in meeting the goals and targets set out in the Political Declaration adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session (document A/64/92-E/2009/98). That Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem sets out measures to: reduce demand and supply, including controlling precursors and amphetamine-type stimulants; foster international cooperation in eradicating the illicit cultivation of crops used for the production of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and in promoting alternative development; counter money-laundering; and promote judicial cooperation to enhance international cooperation.
The report also summarizes the outcomes of four round-table discussions held during the high-level segment on: current and emerging challenges, new trends and patterns of the world drug problem and possible improvements to the evaluation system; strengthening international cooperation in countering the world drug problem using shared responsibility as a basis for an integrated, comprehensive, balanced and sustainable approach in the fight against drugs through domestic and international policies; demand reduction, treatment and preventive policies and practices; and countering illicit drug traffic and supply, and alternative development.
The Committee also had a note by the United Nations Secretary-General on his transmission of the report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its fourth session, held in Vienna from 8 to 17 October 2008 (document A/64/99).
Also before the Committee was a note by the United Nations Secretariat on a draft resolution the Economic and Social Council recommended the General Assembly adopt, entitled “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to terrorism.” (document A/C.3/64/L.2)
Statement by Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), recalled three occasions where Member States worked to strengthen the collective response to drugs, crime and terrorism. In 1998, a special session of the General Assembly launched a 10-year plan of action relating to the threat posed by illicit drugs. In 1999, Member States started the negotiations for a Convention against organized crime, and signed the Palermo Convention in 2000. The same year, the Security Council created the 1267 Committee in response to international terrorism, after murderous attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, and moved quickly after 9/11 to strengthen that response through additional resolutions.
“Yet today, 10 years later, people question whether the world has become a safer place,” he said, noting that some people were calling efforts at drug control a failure. Organized crime had never before had such wealth, power and global reach, and the threat of terrorism lurked in failed regions, where authorities had lost control of the territory. “Improvements did not come by themselves. We need to nurture, foster and promote them with unmitigated commitment,” he added, saying alliances needed to be built not just with Governments, but with civil society stakeholders.
He said the UNODC was countering the sinister nexus of drugs, crime and terrorism by promoting health, justice and security. For a long time, the United Nations’ priority was placed on fighting the drug supply, but the UNODC –-in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) –- was leading the way to improve drug treatment, as part of an effort to reduce demand for drugs. The goal was universal access to drug treatment, thus bringing health to the centre of drug control. The UNODC was also working with national and municipal governments to promote social integration of marginalized groups pushed to the sidelines because of addiction.
“Addicts should be sent to hospitals, not to jail,” he said. “We promote alternatives to imprisonment and spear-head efforts to improve drug treatment in prisons to prevent the spread of HIV.”
He also explained that UNODC was supporting Programmes in Afghanistan, Colombia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Peru and Thailand to create development opportunities for opium and coca farmers. This reduced the world’s supply of illicit drugs by fostering economic growth and security in some poor parts of the world. But, legalizing drugs was not a viable solution. It was an option that did not receive support from a single Member State, despite the havoc being wreaked by drug-related crime from West Asia to Central America, and from West Africa to the urban ghettos.
“Drugs are controlled because they are harmful. They are not harmful because they are controlled,” he stressed. “Increasing the availability of drugs would increase addiction and unleash a social and humanitarian catastrophe.” UNODC promoted drug prevention and treatment, and helped Member States to reduce drug-related crime with better border management, higher forensic capacity, controlled deliveries and anti-money-laundering operations.
The UNODC was working with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organization of American States and others to implement regional actions plans, he said. It had brokered the establishment of regional intelligence centres in Central Asia and the Gulf, and of a trilateral counter-narcotics platform among Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
Another priority area for UNODC was fighting organized crime which had diversified into money-laundering, identity theft, cyber-crime, toxic waste disposal and the exploitation of environmental resources. Criminals were attracted to parts of the world where governance was weak due to conflict and corruption and, for that reason, UNODC was working with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs -- for example in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone -- to strengthen the rule of law.
The UNODC was building criminal-justice capacity to fight piracy in the Horn of Africa, and to prevent terrorism and disrupt the many forms of trafficking that transited the Region, he said. Restrictions were being tightened to make money‑laundering more difficult and to improve techniques to stop identity theft.
He said better use of the United Nations’ strongest weapon, its Convention against corruption, could help the international community “do better”. He urged States to agree on a mechanism to review implementation of that Convention, at the Conference of States Parties scheduled to take place in Doha this November. He also invited them to draw on UNODC’s expertise to implement measures in the treaty, like setting up independent anti-corruption agencies, strengthening accountability of officials, returning stolen assets and ending bank secrecy.
He noted that drugs and crime were among the eight priorities the United Nations identified in the United Nations Secretary-General’s strategic framework for 2010-2011. While the Organization had the capacity to assess the threat posed by drugs and crime, and had deepened its capacity to tackle the complex and inter‑linked challenges involved, there was still more room for improvement. A mismatch between priorities and low funding made it difficult to implement multi‑year programmes, which he said required “more than 1 per cent of the United Nations’ regular budget”.
He also urged States to make full use of available instruments, decision‑making bodies and cooperative arrangements, as well as UNODC expertise.
Questions and Answers
Malaysia’s representative said that, over time, understanding and resolve in tackling money-laundering had increased. But, he asked, where did UNODC fit into the picture? Also, what steps were being taken to reduce redundancy in United Nations system efforts?
The representative of C ôte d’Ivoire said his Government had been astonished to see accusations in the letter from the Permanent Representative of Guinea that said chemical products used to manufacture explosives, which were discovered in Guinea, had come from his country. Côte d’Ivoire did not condone the trafficking of these substances to other countries in the region. It reserved the right to analyse the substances in question and to refer the matter to the General Assembly.
India’s representative said the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the question of international cooperation against the problem of drugs described the “cornerstone” role of UNODC as providing alternative livelihood support. He wondered how the UNODC prioritized the measures it took. He also asked for further clarification regarding UNODC’s focus on drug abuse, rather than the means of production. Further, how were funding gaps being closed, particularly given the financial crisis? Would approaches change? Or had they shifted already since the crisis began a year go?
Sierra Leone’s delegate said that, despite being a post-conflict country, her Government had undertaken and would continue to make major efforts to address the trafficking issue. For example, last year an aircraft carrying a heavy load of cocaine was intercepted and the parties involved were extradited.
The representative of Pakistan, noting the gap between funding and the work of UNODC, asked if that Office had any plan by which its various anti-drug manuals would continue to be published and updated.
Syria’s delegate said most national plans were unable to achieve success unless sufficient financing was available. Syria was a transit country. Migrants and individuals who trafficked in humans often attempted to cross Syria to Western countries using forged documents. Since the end of 2008, it had implemented an electronic system to monitor such movements. But, it was only able to operate that system when funding was available. What could countries do, she asked, to ensure financing? And were there any mechanisms through which countries could work together to do so?
Responding, Mr. COSTA said that, in the 1960s and 1970s, organized crime was much smaller, more national and more cash-based. In the 1980s, criminals penetrated the financial system and started laundering money. Exactly at that time, the Financial Action Task Force was created to fight such laundering. It went on to largely prevent the financial system from becoming a recycling instrument. That success had pushed the illicit financing back to cash, where it mostly remained today. Indeed, this was evidenced by recent recoveries of millions of dollars of cash in Mexico and Colombia.
However, the financial crisis had offered a gigantic opportunity for those holding cash -- including organized criminals -- to re-penetrate the money system, he said, stressing that his Office had begun to investigate this trend. In this, it was working to avoid duplication with other parts of the United Nations system and sought to identify its comparative advantage in that regard.
Regarding the statement by Côte d’Ivoire, he said he was unaware that the chemicals in question had allegedly come from Côte d’Ivoire. However, it was clear that there had been a significant change in the type and means of transit for drugs through West Africa, including a shift to local production. He would be happy to meet at any time with representatives of West African countries on this matter. If there was a Security Council session on this topic next month, some of the documentation provided would focus on this trend.
He said that the work on alternative livelihood was central to UNODC’s work. It believed that development should play a prime role in the fight to reduce production. Nevertheless, different countries faced different problems, depending on what type of market they were -- supply- or demand-driven. This was seen in Afghanistan, where supply was the driving force, not demand. There the poppy crop had been two times the global demand. In contrast, the markets in South American countries like Colombia, were demand-driven.
He further noted that the term “alternative livelihood” was insufficient in describing the scope of the work that must be done to ensure that the necessary infrastructure existed to make the production of other crops sustainable and attractive to farmers.
He went to say that his Office’s operations often drew from voluntary funding, which allowed those operations to expand, but also meant they were subject to the desires of the funders. Moreover, core funding was limited and insufficient, which further placed restraints on the Office’s ability to secure additional voluntary funds.
Noting Sierra Leone’s comment, he said he respected the efforts of that country. UNODC had taken a regional approach in West Africa and Sierra Leone was playing a big part in it. Still, several West African countries, particularly those emerging from conflict, remained very vulnerable.
He agreed with Pakistan that UNODC’s documents faced obsolescence, but, fortunately, those documents were often produced with additional funds, which did not face constraints that were as tight as those of its core funds.
He said his Office was working in all Arab countries to erect barriers and curb the transit of illicit drugs. It had offices in Egypt, Libya and the countries of the Gulf. This left the Middle East more exposed and his Office was working to address that gap.
India’s representative took the floor again to ask about the content of the upcoming crime report mentioned by Mr. Costa. Would it attempt to rank countries? Would it look into issues such as narco-terrorism?
The representative of Benin said he was concerned after hearing Mr. Costa’s response to the representative of Cote d’Ivoire, in which he spoke of a factory producing illicit substance very close to Benin. He asked about the difficulties UNODC faced in meeting its mandate. Even when the identity of drug producers were known, suppressing supply was difficult, since those products brought in valuable income for certain countries. In those countries, there was a certain “duplicity” surrounding the drug trade. The drugs business helped finance elections in some countries, with prominent politicians making money from trafficking, including some very high-ranking officials. This might pose great stumbling blocks to the UNODC. What did Mr. Costa propose?
Kenya’s delegate noted that his subregion faced problems in piracy and trafficking in small arms, whose side effects were spilling into the streets of Nairobi. What was the UNODC doing? Also, what did Mr. Costa think about decriminalizing drug addiction? Could he elaborate on alternatives to imprisonment, that would deter drug use?
Mr. COSTA responded to the representative of India, saying that a world crime report was a few years away, since it was proving difficult to analyse. The world drug report had been easier to write, since the world had had a drug convention for 40 years, resulting in huge databases on those crimes. If produced, a world crime report would deal with transnational issues, such as money‑laundering, organized crimes, migrants and human trafficking, and corruption. It was difficult to find standard units of measurement for some of those crimes. For example, up to now, an analysis of corruption was limited to an analysis of the perception of corruption and not corruption itself. A proper report should go beyond simply measuring perceptions.
He explained that a report on human trafficking had been published in February. A report was presented to the United Nations Security Council five or six weeks ago on organized crime in 13 countries in West Africa, pertaining to trafficking in arms, narcotics, people, counterfeit medicine, cigarettes, stolen oil and other products. UNODC was trying to put together the building blocks to produce a report that would cover other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, the Balkans and East Africa.
In response to the question from Benin’s delegate, he acknowledged the presence of production facilities for synthetic drugs in West Africa. Africa was not a drug-producing or drug-consuming continent, but West Africa was fast becoming a transit Region. He did not believe countries with drug-producing facilities were “duplicitous”. Narco-States did exist. But, he noted that, in the last century, no country had been able to build a sustainable economy based on drug production. However, the issue was different when it came to money‑laundering. Financial centres played an important role in organized crime, and indeed, organized crime would not be what it was today without the so-called “white collar mafia”. The Convention on corruption would be useful in dealing with them.
Responding to the Kenyan delegate, he said UNODC was the largest player in counter-piracy in Kenya. UNODC believed in the importance of promoting socio‑economic development and better economic conditions in countries of origin, and to improve judicial system in countries such as Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. In Kenya, he had visited a prison in Mombassa, where he met with local officials dealing with imprisoned pirates and 2,000 other inmates. He also met senior judicial officials, who were tackling crimes originating from abroad. He launched a plea to States to help Kenya deal with problems it was not responsible for.
On the decriminalization of addiction, he reiterated UNODC’s belief that addiction was a health condition. It was true that addiction was different in different countries; he saw the difference between addiction in the streets of Delhi or Calcutta, and the addiction to drugs of models and bankers snorting cocaine in London, Milan and New York. Prisons were becoming overcrowded because many inmates were there for the wrong reasons, including being imprisoned for drug use. He pled for Governments to provide assistance to addicts, and to be tougher on drug kingpins and their financiers.
The representative of the Bahamas asked for more information regarding UNODC’s next steps in relation to the Caribbean Region, particularly plans to establish an office in Barbados to support the Santo Domingo Pact.
Mr. COSTA said UNODC had closed its office in Barbados years ago because that Office had not produced any results, despite the funds being expended to keep it open. When that decision was made, he had proposed a larger investigation on the situation in the Caribbean and the potential for more effective work there by UNODC. A year and a half was then spent determining the causes of the Region’s most pressing problems -- including the vulnerabilities to crime. The resulting report tried to explain the problem and how to deal with it. Among other things, UNODC concluded that the very large presence of organized crime in the Region was repelling foreign and domestic investment. This only perpetuated the factors contributing to persistent crime, thus creating a vicious circle.
The UNODC report on the Caribbean, which included recommendations to address the problem, was presented in February to a ministerial session in Santo Domingo. There, a proposal had been made to reproduce an initiative that had been launched in South Asia to deal with other types of drugs, with a special focus on border control. That proposal had been well-received. A specific proposal to put all of this into a finalized approach was now under consideration.
NIKLAS BENNWIK ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union would continue to support the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice programme and its work to foster international cooperation, in particular through its technical cooperation capacity. A vast majority of Member States had ratified the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and stood ready to support the mechanisms for police and judicial cooperation among States, in line with the group’s Hague Programme. The Stockholm Programme would provide a new framework covering civil protection, police and customs cooperation, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, asylum, migration, and visa and border controls for the next five years.
But, one of the greatest challenges was being posed by human trafficking, he said. It was a modern form of slavery, and the victims must be protected. A proposal was currently in place to develop an integrated approach in the fight against trafficking. The underlying cause of human trafficking was poverty, social marginalization of victims, gender inequality and a lack of respect for human rights. The European Union was encouraging Member countries who were parties to the Convention’s Additional Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish traffickers, to increase coordination, in light of the low number of prosecutions. The Additional Protocol, together with institutions such as the UNODC, should be “the legal and institutional cornerstone” of international efforts in that area. He appealed to the international community to strengthen the practical implementation of existing instruments and to promote the establishment of an effective review mechanism.
Turning to corruption, he pointed to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which entered into force in 2005 and had been ratified by 140 countries. At the Third Conference of Parties in Doha, it was important that the Convention be equipped with an effective, transparent and inclusive review mechanism. The European Union was working actively with others towards that goal. On terrorism, the Union was a staunch supporter of the United Nations Counter‑Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which monitored implementation of the global counter-terrorism strategy. UNODC was providing technical assistance through its Terrorism Prevention Branch, but that unit needed resources to carry out its mandate -- providing tailor-made capacity-building and judicial assistance to United Nations Member States.
He called on States to increase international trade in chemical precursors, and for countries where those chemicals were produced, neighbouring countries and transit countries to build adequate national legislation and strengthen monitoring to facilitate enforcement operations. Policies to reduce drug demand, by facilitating access to treatment and reducing the adverse health and social consequences of drug abuse, should be strengthened. He praised the UNODC for its efforts, including in formulating responses against challenges posed by piracy, hostage taking and armed robbery.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) speaking on behalf of the States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSO), said the drug trade remained a threat to the entire international community. It could not be separated from other transnational crime issues, including terrorism. The member states of the CTSO believed that the position of UNODC against legalizing drugs was the correct one. Indeed, a comprehensive strategy to curb the flow and use of those drugs was needed. To date about 250 million -- almost 6 per cent -- of the global population was using narcotics. Income from the drug trade had reached $320 billion. Meanwhile, the production and spread of synthetic drugs was rising rapidly.
The Governments of the CTSO remained particularly concerned over the production of drugs in Afghanistan, as well as the flow of heroin across their borders. This flow had reached such a stage that it threatened international and regional peace and security. Among other things, the northern route out of Afghanistan meant drugs were increasingly available in those countries, and drug use was growing in them. A regional approach was clearly needed and practical cooperation in this area was being carried out by the CTSO States. Work was being done to choke off smuggling, and regional participation in that effort was growing, with Afghanistan joining as an observer. Thirty tonnes of narcotics had been removed from the market to date. The “Channel 2009” operation was proceeding through two stages. The Central Asian Regional Clearinghouse was also working to analyze the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
She stressed that the Governments of the CTSO were making serious contributions to strengthen anti-narcotic efforts by establishing belts throughout and around Afghanistan. She called for a third ministerial conference under the Paris Pact. Indeed, it was critical that Afghanistan participate in curbing production, and the CTSO was working to coordinate financial support for Afghanistan’s efforts.
TAKASHI ASHIKI ( Japan) said the development of transportation and computer networks and advances in information technology and financial systems had made it easier for people, merchandise and money to cross borders. They had also facilitated cross-border human trafficking and smuggling, trade in illicit arms and drugs, and transport of the proceeds of criminal activity. In cyberspace, high-technology crimes committed by exploiting illegally obtained personal data posed a threat, as well. Markets distorted by corruption deprived people of the benefits they would have received if all market transactions were fair and transparent.
But, transnational organized crime could not be addressed by one country alone, he said. It was important to develop a cooperative relationship with the private sector and to create an environment where all players could be held accountable. States must also bear in mind that it was not enough to prevent the consequences of transnational organized crime; it was also necessary to support the sustainable development of fragile States. Japan had contributed to the establishment of multilateral legal frameworks, including the various conventions on drugs, counter-terrorism, organized crime and corruption. It was also committed to promoting the establishment of whatever other frameworks might be needed.
He said Japan was also focused on providing assistance to developing countries, such as the provision of legal assistance to Viet Nam, Timor-Leste and others. It has held seminars, bringing together legal experts and members of the UNODC. As part of its humanitarian and reconstructive assistance to Afghanistan, Japan contributed $3 million to the UNODC for building the capacity of border control facilities, police and criminal justice officers, measures against drug corruption and prison reform. Its “Absolutely Not!” campaign was successful in promoting a zero tolerance policy and received favourable evaluations by the International Narcotics Control Board.
Aside from being willing to share its experience, he said Japan also provided bilateral assistance to developing countries to eradicate poverty, which formed the basis for criminal activity. In Myanmar, it was providing technical assistance through a project in drug control and alternative development for growing rice and tea, raising livestock, improving irrigation and farm roads, creating access to clean water and teaching English. The project was a success: almost all poppy cultivation in the target region had stopped by 2008. To promote coordinated action by States, Japan supported the Political Declaration and Action Plan adopted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March, as well as the idea of establishing a working group to advise on implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Japan appreciated Brazil’s offer of hosting the twelfth Congress on Crime Prevention, and acknowledged the important role played by civil society and the private sector at the eleventh Congress.
SULJUK MUSTANSAR TARAR ( Pakistan) said that access to information on a real-time basis was a valuable asset for the civilized world. However, the easy access to excessive information was misused by anti-social elements and transnational crime. A symbiotic relationship between the developing and developed world also served as a foundation for international organized crime. International organized crime in developing countries had roots in poorer, less privileged communities where poverty, underemployment and weak socio-economic situations provided breeding grounds for local and organized crime. Increased demand for drugs, cheap labour and illegal money transfers in the developed world resulted in increased supply from the developing world.
He said that multidimensional relationship required cooperation through a multi-pronged strategy, including through the fulfilment of national obligations under relevant international treaties and stronger partnerships and collaborative action. Alternative development could greatly help stem the impulse to indulge in all types of crime. For its part, Pakistan was fully aware of the complex legal, social and economic dimensions of crime, as well as its responsibilities in this area. It hoped the Political Declaration and Action Plan would aid cooperative efforts. As a transit country, Pakistan was working to stop the outflow of drugs and the inflow of precursor chemicals. A new drug control master plan for 2009 to 2011 had recently been adopted. It was also contributing to UNODC’s “Rainbow Strategy” and was participating in the “Triangular Cooperation Initiative” with Afghanistan and Iran.
He said that to counter human trafficking, Pakistan had promulgated the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance, which called for civil society to work with law enforcement to rehabilitate victims. A national Action Plan against such trafficking was being developed. A special Anti-Human-Trafficking Unit had also been set up in the Federal Investigation Agency. Pakistan had joined the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and had developed an anti-money-laundering ordinance, which provided structures to curb illegal financial transactions through a financial monitoring unit in its State bank. Since crime could not be fought without an effective judicial system, Pakistan was also reforming its criminal justice system. It was also providing information on travellers moving across it borders through the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES).
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the drug problem had had an adverse impact on social development and the United Nations was the best forum to foster greater cooperation among Governments on tackling that issue. The President of Mexico, on the international day against the use and illicit trafficking of drugs, called drug addiction a modern form of slavery. While the 2009 World Drug Report showed that opium and coca use had either stabilized or been reduced throughout the world, the trade in synthetic drugs had increased. Organized crime defied control measures instituted by States, and created a parallel market controlled by the mafia through violence. Mexico had launched a domestic programme to fight crime organizations involved in drug trafficking and related crimes, to strengthen national security and discourage young people from using drugs. The strategy was aimed at combating the drug phenomenon on all fronts, by discouraging demand and being tough on criminal groups. A huge amount of money had been seized as a result, which was being used to set up 320 “new life centres” all over the country, to reduce drug use.
He said Mexico believed in cultivating international cooperation to strengthen national strategies. His country participated actively in different regional and international forums specialized in combating drug and associated crimes. It had been active at the high-level session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs last March, chairing a round table there. Mexico also introduced a resolution on strengthening measures against money-laundering in relation to drug trafficking and associated crimes, the first of its kind. Noting that a political declaration and plan of action for an integrated strategy against illicit drugs had been adopted there, Mexico planned to present an omnibus resolution on international cooperation against the drug problem, which would highlight the political declaration. That declaration needed General Assembly backing to achieve the high profile it deserved, and could provide impetus to agreements adopted on the issue 10 years ago.
DAVID T. JOHNSON ( United States) said this year had been pivotal in reaffirming the three United Nations drug conventions, which formed the cornerstones of international cooperation against illicit drugs. The United States applauded the work of the high-level segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in developing a new Political Declaration and Action Plan to advance work under those drug conventions. The General Assembly should complete the Commission’s work by adopting via resolution those carefully negotiated documents.
Turning to the domestic picture in the United States, he said drug abuse trends were mixed. According to a comprehensive drug study released last month, the use of illicit drugs by teens had declined significantly since 2002 and had been stable since 2005. The number of teens reporting prescription drug abuse also reached its lowest level since 2002. Despite that progress, significant challenges remained. Illegal drug use remained unacceptably high, with nearly 20 per cent of 18- to 25-year-olds reporting having used illicit drugs in the last month. Overdoses were now the number two cause of accidental death, behind motor vehicle accidents.
To address the challenges the United States planned to implement new, comprehensive counter-narcotics measures. A new National Drug Control Strategy would be published early next year. It would dispense with the “war on drugs” rhetoric that not only failed to address the scope of the problem, but missed the point that addiction was a treatable disease. The Government was further committed to a strategic, balanced and aggressive approach to address current and emerging drug abuse trends. But, for these programmes to be successful, the international criminal syndicates that generated billions of dollars and illegal revenue from this and other illicit trades had to be countered and dismantled. To stay ahead of these criminal organizations, wider use of the international frameworks adopted by Governments had to be used.
He noted that, although many States remained under threat in the Western Hemisphere, there had been successes. Today, with the support of its allies, Colombia had broken the power of the drug cartels and other illegal groups and restored public order and security in its cities, resulting in great economic progress. Mexico’s Government was also responding with determination and courage to threats posed by organized crime and violent drug cartels. The United States supported those efforts and was working through the framework of the Merida Initiative to promote a closer partnership with Mexico, Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to prevent, treat and build rule of law institutions, in order to confront criminal organizations.
On Afghanistan, he said the narcotics trade continued to threaten political stability and economic growth by funding insurgent terrorist groups and feeding the corruption that undermines the rule of law. With the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNODC provided assistance to the Afghan Government in confronting these threats. But, it needed further political and financial commitments. The United States would continue to provide financial resources and urged others to provide their own extra-budgetary contributions as well. Finally, the United States had galvanized Member States to increase cooperation against crime and corruption and looked forward to the draft resolution being developed by Mexico and Italy to highlight the importance of ratifying the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The upcoming Conference of States Parties to the Convention against Corruption in Doha would also focus on developing an effective, transparent and inclusive review mechanism.
MOHAMED IDRISS (Egypt) stressed the overlap between drug and human trafficking and terrorism, and its relationship to money‑laundering and terrorism financing. New technology was being used to develop synthetic drugs, which were deadlier and easier to transport and less costly to produce, leading to the growth of production facilities everywhere. While commending the level of cooperation between UNODC and various regional organizations, the relationship between the United Nations and Africa needed to be improved. Failure to deal with organized crime and drug trafficking jeopardized peacebuilding efforts in conflict areas, because drug trafficking was a source of funding for buying small arms. The plan of action formulated at the March meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs needed to be fully implemented, so that cooperation between nations could be improved.
Turning to human trafficking, he said it was the third largest and most profitable form of organized crime in the world, where a large number of the victims were women and bringing in $28 billion in profit. Egypt’s First Lady and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were seeking to harmonize the implementation of national policies. The First Lady participated at a conference organized in the context of UN-GIFT, and had led a global campaign with the slogan “End Trafficking in Human Beings Now”. Egypt hoped that the General Assembly would support its efforts in negotiating a United Nations Global Action Plan to combat human trafficking, which undermined human rights, as well as efforts at peacebuilding and reconstruction.
On terrorism, he said Egypt condemned it in all its forms. The recent attack in Pakistan had resulted in the death of several United Nations humanitarian personnel. Such incidents stressed the need to address the root causes of terrorism, especially the political, economic and security aspects. He emphasized the need to reinvigorate the process of negotiating a comprehensive convention on terrorism, and the reconsideration of the definition of terrorist acts, taking into account the differences between a terrorist act and the lawful acts carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law by national liberation movements in the exercise of their right to self-determination. The adoption of the Global Strategy to Combat Terrorism had been a turning point; Egypt believed that the time was ripe to convene an international conference against terrorism to formulate a definition of terrorism, and lay the foundation for negotiations on a comprehensive convention on terrorism.
ZOYA KOLONTAI (Belarus), underlining the statement from the CTSO States, said lowering and eliminating crime could only be done through a policy of partnership. There was no reasonable alternative to pooling the efforts of Governments, the private sector, and the media, among other things, so that the crime of human trafficking could be addressed. This year, the United Nations Development Programme’s report on human development had included, for the first time, a chapter on this problem. Clearly, Member States had expressed a desire to enhance international coordination by forming a partnership against the human trade and slavery in the twenty-first century. Belarus proposed going further, however, and had, to this end, proposed a resolution that included a number of proposals for joint efforts, including in particular a global plan of action.
She stressed that, while some might say Belarus was repeating itself on this topic, it was talking about the issue because it had to be discussed. Of course, this plan would not suddenly resolve the problem. But, it would do much to make the crime of human trafficking a high-risk, low-reward endeavour. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that this crime largely targeted children.
LIU ZHENMIN (China) said stronger international cooperation was fundamental in preventing and combating transnational organized crime, based on mutual respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit. Consideration should be given to building the capacity of developing countries. Countries should explore the potential of cooperating in the fields of extradition, judicial assistance, asset recovery and technical assistance, in which UNODC and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice had important roles.
China played its part by implementing the provisions of the Conventions against organized crime and corruption, making changes to its Criminal Code. China had signed, as well, 106 treaties on judicial assistance with 50 countries and was ready to enhance and share experience with even more countries. It exercised strict control over the export of small arms and light weapons and was willing to continue support in that area.
He noted that, while cocaine and heroin production had fallen in the world, and that the market for cannabis had shrunk as had opiate use, the manufacturing, trafficking and abuse of new drugs had grown. Drug abuse among youth was getting worse. A proper solution hinged on more international cooperation, and so China encouraged UNODC to continue to increase dialogue and consultation with donors, recipients and other interested countries and institutions to help countries address drug-related challenges. China’s drug control law provided for a clearly defined mechanism to tackle illegal drugs, and there was strict control over precursor chemicals. The Government paid particular attention to drug prevention education among youth.
He added that China had helped its neighbours to launch alternative crops cultivation to replace the poppy. It was involved in practical forms of cooperation with the United States and European countries in drug control enforcement, exchange of information and training.
U THAUNG TUN (Myanmar) welcomed the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, in particular its recognition of the principle of shared responsibility, as well as the fact that supply and demand strategies were mutually reinforcing elements of a comprehensive approach. Experience showed that the elimination of a given drug from the market did not mark an end to the drug problem, but merely a shift to other substances. That called for a balanced approach based on shared responsibility, as well as a focus on the health dimensions and the promotion of community-based sustainable livelihoods.
He said success in the fight against drugs depended on political will to tackle the problem and the realization that it was in the interest of every State to help others with resources, expertise and tools. Myanmar had been doing its part and was in the midst of a 15-year plan to eliminate illicit drugs by 2014, a year ahead of the target set by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It was implementing anti-narcotic campaigns and working to eradicate the opium poppy in its border areas by promoting alternative livelihoods and raising the living standards of local populations. National legislation had also been strengthened and the law enforcement capacity strengthened. As a result, annual opium production had fallen significantly and three regions had been declared “opium-free zones”.
Despite such progress in curbing the global illicit poppy cultivation, he said the world could not afford to be complacent about new trends regarding drugs and psychotropic substances, particularly amphetamine-type stimulants. Those drugs were easily produced where precursor chemicals were available. Myanmar did not manufacture those chemicals and was working with its neighbours to prevent their flow across its borders. Consultations at senior levels were regularly held between China, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Myanmar, in that regard. Recently, Myanmar’s security and anti-narcotic forces had seized an unprecedented amount of drugs, chemicals and related paraphernalia, including large quantities of amphetamine-type stimulants and precursor chemicals. Still, far more needed to be done and cooperative efforts at the regional and international levels were needed.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia) said his country was heartened to note the growing international recognition of the significance of emerging forms of crimes, particularly the illicit international trafficking in forest products, such as timber, wildlife and other biological resources. It welcomed the decision to adopt a new agenda on such emerging crimes at the fifth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in 2010. The twelfth United Nations Congress on the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice scheduled for 2010 would also be an important occasion to fortify strategies on emerging forms of crimes.
He said the fight against corruption remained one of Indonesia’s highest priorities. To this end, it had voluntarily participated in a pilot programme to review the Convention’s implementation. It had also established a National Plan of Action against Corruption that encompassed preventive measures, a regulatory framework, law enforcement, asset recovery, international cooperation and a reporting mechanism. It had also supported cooperation within the framework of the joint World Bank-UNODC “StAR Initiative” to build capacity and judicial processes.
Underlining Indonesia’s commitment to tackling human trafficking, he said international efforts should be aimed at enhancing law enforcement against traffickers and ensuring the protection of victims. Indonesia welcomed global and regional efforts to address trafficking and had co-chaired the third Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Human Trafficking and Related Transnational Crimes.
Indonesia was equally committed to counter-terrorism, he said. It believed counter-terrorism efforts should be conducted with full respect for human rights and the rule of law. Terrorism’s root causes should be eliminated and, in this, Indonesia would continue to assert the promotion of tolerance and moderation. Law enforcement must also be strengthened to combat terrorism in a sustainable manner. Regional cooperation was critical in confronting the transnational nature of terrorist activities and Indonesia would continue to build regional capacities.
He said his country would also play an active role in enhancing international efforts to control the drug trade. It was currently hosting a meeting of heads of national drug law enforcement agencies. The Government believed the drug trade should continue to be addressed from both the supply and demand sides. It was also expanding its alternative development measures to include urban areas, by which former and potential drug couriers were provided sustained livelihood support.
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