Speakers Say Best Way to Mark Tenth Anniversary of Anti-Crime Convention Stronger Global Follow-Up, as Assembly Concludes High-Level Meeting
Speakers Say Best Way to Mark Tenth Anniversary of Anti-Crime Convention Stronger Global Follow-Up, as Assembly Concludes High-Level Meeting
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
99th & 100thMeetings (AM & PM)
Speakers Say Best Way to Mark Tenth Anniversary of Anti-Crime Convention
Stronger Global Follow-Up, as Assembly Concludes High-Level Meeting
Also Recommend Review Mechanism to Chart Implementation Progress,
Urge Early Completion of Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons
As the General Assembly today concluded its special high-level meeting on transnational organized crime, speakers agreed that the best way to stamp out organized crime and mark the tenth anniversary this year of the landmark United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocols was through stronger global follow-up and coordination.
Organized crime worldwide was on the rise as gangs, terrorists, money launderers, drug and human traffickers, and cybercriminals exploited the more open borders and technological advances spurred by globalization, delegates said. It threatened international peace and security and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Trafficking in persons, they stressed, was particularly egregious and a crime against humanity.
Some speakers suggested that the United Nations set up a review mechanism to chart progress and identify obstacles to implementing the United Nations treaty, also known as the Palermo Convention, while others called for formation of a global action plan to combat trafficking in persons by the end of the current General Assembly session.
Colombia’s representative said no State could defeat organized crime on its own. States parties to the Convention must enhance international cooperation and set up flexible channels to enable authorities to act swiftly and efficiently. Delay in responding to requests for judicial cooperation only furthered the unlawful aims of criminals. She supported creation of an impartial, effective, transparent and reliable review mechanism, which did not provide sanctions of any kind.
The representatives of Lichtenstein, Canada the Republic of Korea supported its creation as well, with the latter saying that while creation of the Convention and its Protocols had been cause for celebration, the fight against organized crime was “far from over”. The instrument must not remain a dead letter, but be matched by coordinated, robust action.
Indonesia’s representative, however, warned against reinventing the wheel, saying the mechanism already enshrined in the Convention was sufficient to tackle implementation. It was tempting to criticize the treaty, which was still in the early stages, and easier to come up with a new mechanism. But enforcing the current one, albeit a more difficult course of action to follow, was indeed the best way forward.
The representatives of Qatar, Belarus and India urged States to wrap up negotiations during the current Assembly session on setting up the action plan to combat trafficking in persons. Egypt’s representative said his Government had a comprehensive national campaign to combat that scourge, led by its First Lady, and it was working to mobilize support in Africa for a United Nations global plan based on common and shared principles and similar plans in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Arab world.
A representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See lamented that, of the millions of victims of trafficking today, more than 70 per cent, overwhelmingly women and girls, was trafficked for sexual exploitation. There was a balance between the supply of victims in sending countries and the demand for them in receiving countries. Instead of passing more laws that sought to legitimize that dehumanizing work, as had been the case thus far, the demand for those women and girls and the rights of the victims must be addressed.
Also during the meeting, countries shed light on national and regional partnerships with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to stamp out organized crime. For example, UNODC was setting up centres in Central America this year to strengthen the rule of law and regional expertise on such issues as maritime security and urban crime prevention, according to Guatemala’s representative. The centres would work in partnership with law enforcement and security bodies such as the police, customs officials, prosecutors and forensic teams, among others.
Other speakers discussed regional efforts to combat organized crime specific to their areas. For example, the representatives of Pakistan and Iran shed light on their triangular cooperation initiative with Afghanistan to curb the cross-border flow of illicit drugs, particularly opium, and inward flows of precursor chemicals.
Also speaking today were representatives of Russian Federation, Austria, Germany, Ecuador, Morocco, Japan, South Africa, Nicaragua, Argentina, Cuba, Gambia, Romania, Mongolia, Peru, Turkey, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Armenia.
A representative of the International Organization for Migration also made a statement.
The General Assembly met today to conclude its high-level meeting on transnational organized crime, which it began Thursday, 17 June. (See Press Release GA/10949)
MOHAMED FATH EDREES (Egypt) said it was impossible to deal with certain crimes in isolation, pointing to links between human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, and between those crimes and drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism financing. Efforts in Africa to combat organized crime depended on support from the United Nations in the context of reconstruction and peacebuilding. Failure in those areas fuelled conflict and provided financing to global terrorist networks, and hindered African efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. For that reason, it was important to create momentum for international cooperation and, in doing so, contribute towards the realization of the Convention on organized crime.
For its part, Egypt had a comprehensive national campaign to combat trafficking in persons, he said, led by its First Lady. It was also working to mobilize support in Africa for a United Nations global plan of action on the issue, which would include common and shared principles and provisions formulated by similar plans in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Arab world. The Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement in July 2009 was another example of Egypt’s commitment to that issue. Egypt also believed in the importance of dealing with the root causes of terrorism, and on the need to reinvigorate the negotiation process on a terrorism convention. That would involve reconsidering the definition of “terrorism”, including differences between terrorist acts and lawful acts carried out by national liberation movements in exercise of their right to self-determination. The review of the implementation of the Global Strategy to Combat Terrorism in September would become increasingly important, as the world moved to formulate a global plan of action on human trafficking.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that the age of globalization had created open borders and free markets, as well as various technological achievements that not only benefited the peoples of world, but were used actively for organized crime worldwide. Terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and cybercrime threatened harmonious global development. Crime prevention and criminal justice must be a priority. The conventions against crime and corruption were of fundamental importance. Anti-criminal strategies must be created to counter threats of a criminal nature. It was essential to look at ways to harness anti-crime potential, as called for during the November 2009 meeting. The Palermo review mechanism must be a progressive or gradual approach. The fight against drugs originated in Afghanistan, the principle source of opiates and hashish worldwide. The Paris-Moscow process, under United Nations auspices, was a basis for increased international cooperation in fighting the threat from Afghan drugs.
Russian Federation authorities were assisting the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Afghanistan in fighting organized crime, he said. With the United Nations, it was organizing courses to train experts regarding implementation of the anti-crime Convention. The United Nations had unfulfilled potential. Cybercrime must be better addressed, and establishment of a United Nations open-ended working group on cybercrime would be useful, as would a universal convention on extradition and mutual legal assistance. The analytical potential of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) should be strengthened. Further, there was significant value added in public-private partnerships, and he called upon States and the private sector to conduct appropriate programmes. He also welcomed the General Assembly initiative to draw more attention to those issues.
CHRISTIAN EBNER (Austria) said that the Palermo Convention was the main instrument to tackle the complex phenomenon of organized crime. Consequently, it was of the utmost importance that all States sign and ratify it and its Protocols. It was now also time to establish a strong and effective review mechanism for the treaty, which would raise awareness and increase international cooperation. Civil society should play an important role in that process. One of the most serious crimes today was human trafficking. Austria was strongly committed to a human rights-based approach to combat it and was party to all relevant legal instruments and considered their fulfilment a priority. It also attached equal importance to the four “Ps” — prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.
He said that terrorism was increasingly interlinked with transnational organized crime, and could only be effectively countered through a coordinated global approach, for which the United Nations was the adequate forum. Corruption was a major obstacle to States’ development, and he drew attention to the International Anti-Corruption Academy, to be established in Laxenburg, near Vienna, later this year. The Academy was a joint initiative of UNODC and Austria and was strongly supported by the European Anti-Fraud Office, as well as by a growing family of other international stakeholders. The institution would function as a global, interdisciplinary and intercultural centre of excellence in the fields of anti-corruption education, training, cooperation and research. It was expected to contribute significantly to the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and foster exchange among experts, academics, civil servants, private sector representatives and civil society. On 23 September, various stakeholders, including United Nations Member States, would be invited to a conference in Vienna to strengthen the Academy’s foundation.
Aligning with the statement made by the European Union, MARTIN NEY (Germany) said that the October 2010 Fifth Conference of the States Parties to the Convention in Vienna was the appropriate forum in which to drive the common agenda and call upon those States who had not ratified or acceded to the Convention to do so. While appreciative of insight given on new crime phenomena — including cyber crime, identity fraud, and illicit trafficking in cultural property, among others — he noted that ensuring the implementation of existing legal instruments should be the Assembly’s primary and foremost task.
Continuing, he said that any efforts towards drafting a new legal instrument should be proceeded by a thorough investigation of the need for and potential added value of such an instrument. Further, there was a need for sensitivity with regard to fields and cases for which United Nations organizations were responsible such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which had the case for the protection of cultural property. He underscored the importance of avoiding effort duplication and efficiently coordinating tasks given to other United Nations organs.
AYLA AHMED S. A. AL-THANI ( Qatar) said the meeting was an important step for intensifying efforts to reinforce the Convention. It was being held in the context of globalization. Transnational crime was part of that process and suffered by all States, which were exposed to the phenomenon’s security, political and economic risks. Cybercrime went beyond national borders, superseding normal practices and, thus, requiring cooperation among States and innovative methods to defeat it. Cybercrime was no ordinary crime; it was the result of technological and intercultural exchanges and required national and regional coordination aimed at adjusting the criminal justice systems accordingly. In March, Qatar had joined the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and had acceded to the Protocol related to human trafficking. It had also participated in several conferences related to that scourge.
She said her country would host the thirteenth United Nations conference for the prevention of crime and criminal justice, in 2011, and in conformity with the resolution adopted in El Salvador, Brazil, it was pursuing coordination with neighbouring countries to step up cooperation. It had also adopted several measures to combat corruption. Human trafficking was one of the worst manifestations of transnational organized crime. The victim might be a citizen of a country other than that where the crime was perpetrated, which was why cooperation was essential among States. In March, Qatar had hosted a forum on the Arab initiative for training Government officials in the fight against human trafficking. That conference had called for greater coordination and cooperation in terms of information exchange and extradition of criminals. In the General Assembly, Qatar had been among the Group of Friends against Human Trafficking and had been involved in elaborating the plan of action. The action plan should be finalized before the end of the current session.
FRANCISCO CARRIÓN-MENA (Ecuador) said multilateral and bilateral cooperation was important to fight transnational organized crime. It should be supported and based on the principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. Comprehensive application of the Convention and its Protocols was the basis for that cooperation. Human trafficking was a contemporary form of slavery and a crime against humanity. It should be approached from the viewpoint of shared responsibility, he said, stressing that traffickers were meeting the huge global appetite for human beings for sexual and commercial exploitation. A global strategy should be adopted to provide a coherent, balanced and comprehensive framework, which would make it possible to fill in existing legal gaps. He called on all States to work to put an end to that transnational evil. It required international cooperation to prevent Trafficking of migrants by land, sea and air.
Closing borders violated basic human rights, he said, and laws often penalized migrants, instead of sanctioning the real criminals. There were no illegal human beings, just illegal procedures. He firmly supported the Convention on the rights of migrant workers. It would bring about effective cooperation and penalization of traffickers. Unfortunately, many countries that hosted migrants had not ratified the Convention and they had gotten tough on human beings, rather than criminalizing the perpetration of crimes. In recent years, Ecuador had made progress to combat that scourge. It had adopted, in August 2006, a national plan to combat human trafficking. Since 2005, it had implemented an anti-money-laundering law, which covered all illicit activity that would endanger human security. Ecuador had invested a great deal of its resources in fighting money-laundering, particularly against activities that could lead to terrorism. Ecuador would soon host a visit from a high-level commission of the Financial Action Task Force, which would review Ecuador’s progress in fighting organized crime.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said the discussion took on particular significance in the run-up to the September Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. Along with the financial, food and energy crises, transnational organized crime not only threatened to delay the Goals’ attainment, but also threatened to reverse some of the positive results. The Assembly’s adoption 10 years ago of the Convention and additional Protocols on human trafficking and illicit firearms had been correct and timely. Much had been done at national and international levels to restrain the problem, but “in no way have we put an end to it”, he warned, urging a change in approach.
Apart from collaboration and coordination of law enforcement efforts, he called for partnership among all stakeholders. A key to success would be a collaborative mechanism that could succeed in today’s pluralistic and contradictory world. In fact, there was no alternative to such a mechanism. Belarus was convinced that a global plan would activate and render more effective the joint struggle against trafficking in persons and for compliance with all relevant international instruments. All States must complete work on the global plan of action and do so at the present General Assembly session, thereby making an important contribution to combating transnational organized crime and human trafficking and, through that, helping to achieve fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) said the issue of transnational organized crime was particularly important for Morocco, and he thus stressed the importance of the efforts of UNODC. The close relationship between organized crime, terrorism, and human and drug trafficking demonstrated daily the dangers to which the international community was increasingly exposed. Mafia networks threatened international peace and security, as they had become increasingly transnational, having access to increasing amount of financial, logistical and technological resources. That was why the Security Council had referred to the dangerous relationship between arms, drugs and human trafficking, particularly in the Sahel region. United Nations conventions on crime were a strong signal from the international community of its commitment to deal with the scourge. He welcomed the United Nations plan of action on preventing and suppressing human trafficking, which he hoped would help to strengthen the Palermo Convention and make it operational.
No country could face trafficking issues alone, he said. Regional and subregional cooperation was necessary. In 2002, Morocco’s Government had started to harmonize its laws and regulations, in line with the Convention. It had amended criminal codes and procedures and set up multisectoral and coordinated strategies to fight organized crime. It had also mobilized all resources to fight trafficking in migrants, concentrating on institutional aspects and awareness-raising. The policy had been initiated in 2003 and led to a significant reduction in migrant flows from Morocco and the number of networks using Morocco for trafficking. In 2007, the Government had implemented a national strategy against human trafficking, which included all categories of vulnerable persons. In August 2009, African ministers had adopted the Rabat Declaration on promoting regional mechanisms for cooperation in security, particularly in combating drug crime.
NORIHIRO OKUDA (Japan) said that, for 10 years, the international community had been making a sustained effort to combat transnational organized crime and counter illicit drug trafficking. Even with those coordinated efforts, however, it could not truly be said that the situation today was better than it had been a decade ago. In fact, the challenges today were more serious and complex. Information technology and systems of finance had made it easy for people to cross borders — for the purpose of human trafficking and arms and drugs smuggling. That had also enabled organized crime groups and networks to diversify and connect their illicit operations. The linkage between organized crime and trafficking in persons and firearms were additional elements of great concern.
He noted that organized crime groups acted behind the scenes in States embroiled in conflict, or struggling to emerge from instability. With the profits from their illicit activities, those groups were better able to equip themselves to engage in crime. The result was that conflicts of “all kinds” were prolonged. That, in turn, prevented the establishment of the rule of law and sustainable development. Under such circumstances, organized crime groups established control over entire regions and, when they crossed borders, they created a ripple effect for the entire international community. All Member States must enhance their shared responsibility to combat the scourge and strengthen adherence to the Convention and its Protocols. And all stakeholders must further strive to tackle the root causes of organized transnational crime, particularly by taking action to guarantee human security.
EBRHAHIM ISMAIL EBRAHIM, Deputy Minister, Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that the fallout from all threats and challenges facing the international community came with serious costs. In the case of organized crime, along with its corrosive effects on national and regional economies, such activity was associated with corruption and violence and was a major impediment to development. Not only did investment potential decrease, losses were sustained by both Government and the private sector, thus hampering poverty eradication efforts and hurting the labour market. “The social bill also starts to add up when the degradation of human dignity and the abuse of human rights of victims of crimes such as trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are considered, which invariably affect societies’ most vulnerable, namely women and children,” he said.
At the same time, he saw the broad push for universal ratification and wider application of the Palermo Convention as a “positive trend”, and said South Africa was encouraged by the elaboration of the three vital Protocols to that instrument during its short 10-year lifespan. International cooperation, particularly bilateral and regional treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, were key tools in fighting transnational organized crime. His Government had observed with interest the emergence of agency-to-agency cooperation mechanisms, especially in Europe. Yet, there was also much work being done at regional and subregional levels that deserved more attention, especially in providing models for cooperation and international best practices. To that end, he noted that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had developed regional arrangements and instruments on corruption, extradition and mutual legal assistance. “We have already reaped the benefits of a regional police cooperation arrangement, particularly in the form of joint investigations and operations,” he said.
GEORG SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said he was pleased to see the number of States parties now adhering to the milestone agreement and hoped that figure could increase. He was deeply concerned about the growing dimension of transnational organized crime and its growing threat to development, peace and security, and human rights. It was a global security challenge, with the potential to jeopardize the stability and social coherence of entire nations. The international community had agreed that the fight against transnational organized crime was a common and shared responsibility. He hoped the upcoming anniversary would be used to intensify the United Nations operational work to combat that threat. Ten years after the Convention’s adoption, the focus must be on implementation.
In that regard, he said his country supported current efforts to establish an effective review mechanism. The commitment of States parties should be strengthened towards, among other gains, promotion of sustained and effective national judiciaries. Liechtenstein recognized the crucial need for effective cooperation. Its own financial centre was committed to the highest standards in that regard, and its domestic legal framework was fully capable of detecting financial flows stemming from organized criminal activities. Moreover, it was engaged in efforts to recover stolen assets. Those efforts complemented its longstanding commitment to combat money laundering, corruption and the financing of terrorism.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan) said there was a two-way relationship between transnational organized crime that emerged from the developing and developed world. Poorer and less privileged socio-economic surroundings provided a conducive ground for transnational organized crime to expand its turf, while access to resources and advanced technology from the developed countries provided the necessary edge to the culprits over law enforcement and security agencies. There was also a supply-and-demand side to transnational organized crime, particularly in drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, corruption and money laundering. Increase in the demand for drugs, exploitation of cheap labour and opportunities to transfer illegal wealth in the developed world led to increased supply from the developing world. Pakistan remained cognizant of its responsibility to counter that menace and believed and the world drug problem demanded effective and enhanced international cooperation. In that regard, Pakistan welcomed the adoption of the Salvador Declaration during the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
He said that Pakistan, through a multipronged strategy comprising strict law-enforcement actions and alternative development plans, had succeeded in eliminating its illicit opium crop. It had adversely suffered as a transit country for drugs. It had actively contributed to the regional and international efforts to stop the outflow of drugs from neighbouring regions and the inflow of precursor chemicals to prevent drug production. Its drug control master plan for 2009-2013 took into account the impact of the drug situation “in our neighbourhood” and outlined both supply and demand reduction measures to be taken. Pakistan also contributed to global efforts to counter illicit trafficking by participating in the “Rainbow Strategy” of UNODC and the “Triangular Cooperation Initiative” with Afghanistan and Iran. It looked forward to discussions on the proposed global action plan and hoped the plan would strengthen existing mechanisms, while avoiding duplication.
KEITH MORRILL (Canada) said that, 10 years on, the Convention and its Protocols were practical tools States could use to collaborate and cooperate in the investigation and interdiction of transnational criminal activities. Indeed, organized crime was truly “dynamic” and no State or region was immune to the challenges it posed or the damage such criminal activity wrought on communities, economies and public safety. The Convention’s mutual legal assistance and extradition provisions enhanced the shared capacity to fight cross-border crime. In that way, it could serve to bridge domestic anti-crime efforts to the broader initiatives of State parties against international criminal networks.
He went on to say that Canada hoped the upcoming fifth Conference of Parties would provide an opportunity for States to share examples of how the Convention could be used to disrupt organized criminal activity and bring its perpetrators to justice. The challenge now was not in the many steps that had been taken, but in following them up to “ensure that the potential of this Convention is maximized to the fullest extent possible”. One measure that might advance its implementation would be the development of a review mechanism, and Canada looked forward to taking part in the expected discussions on that matter during the meeting of States parties. Finally, he noted that Canada, well aware of how important technical assistance was to States’ efforts to meet their obligations under the Convention and its Protocols, had over the years provided financial support to UNODC’s projects in that area.
MARÍA ELENA MEDAL (Nicaragua) said her country was a State party to the Convention and it had ratified the Convention’s additional Protocols. In 2008, Nicaragua had amended its penal code to include statutes against organized crime and it worked actively with UNODC. It belonged to the commission of police chiefs in Central America and the Caribbean to fight organized crime, and last year, it had held a ministerial conference on the illicit trafficking of drugs. The Managua Declaration, adopted by Central American ministers, recognized drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and other forms of organized crime as threats to political security and human development. The Plan of Action for Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico to fight organized crime was supported by UNODC, but it needed more resources, and she asked the international community for more funding.
The lack of civic security had become a major concern in Latin America and was an obstacle to human development, she said. . Many statistics highlighted its threat to regional security. Nicaragua was one of the safest and least violent countries in Central America, but transnational organized crime was a global phenomenon that required a global response. Nicaragua did not produce or consume illicit weapons or drugs, but it was obliged to divert its limited resources to combat the use of its country as a transit point. She appealed to the international community to apply the principle of shared, but differentiated responsibility by providing resources to fight the scourge. There was a disparity between the amount of illicit goods heading to the North, and what the South received in aid to counter those crimes. The illicit demand in the North must stop. Finally, collective action and a global response were needed to fight trafficking in persons, which was a modern form of slavery and a crime against humanity.
KIM HYUNGJUN (Republic of Korea) said the Convention had not only established common standards 10 years ago, but had carried a powerful political message that it would extinguish the shadow of organized crime on society. In today’s globalized society, however, previously unknown possibilities for transnational organized crime had developed. The changing nature of organized crime not only affected legitimate civil society actors, but entire political and economic systems. From crime prevention to sustainable development and human rights protection, the effects of transnational organized crime were undeniable. In the years following his country’s signing of the Convention and its Protocols in 2000, important gains had been recorded. The Convention had provided the impetus for the country to reform its national legislation, with special attention to the provisions on organized crime, trafficking and migrants. The process should be completed by 2011, thereby allowing the Republic of Korea to ratify the Convention.
He said his country had also made impressive progress in fighting corruption, particularly in tracking money laundering and fighting organized crime. In 2006, it had set up an institutional framework for that purpose. It also provided legal assistance to its regional partners. Since 1997, it had hosted an international workshop on crime prevention, attended by criminal justice law enforcement officials from different countries. It invited United Nations delegations to participate in the first world summit of prosecutors, attorney generals and chief prosecutors, which his country would host in 2011. The forum should build greater confidence in criminal justice systems. There was no room for complacency. While the establishment of the Convention and its Protocols had been cause for celebration, everyone must recognize that the fight was “far from over”. The instrument must not remain a dead letter, but must be matched by coordinated, robust action. He welcomed initiatives to create a comprehensive legal mechanism to assess criminal justice needs and measure progress, and he called on delegations to promote universal adherence.
JORGE ARGÜELLO (Argentina) said transnational organized crime had become one of the greatest threats to State security, “which no one could stand against alone”. International cooperation was required and the Convention and its three Protocols provided a comprehensive framework for the fights against the phenomenon. Argentina was a party to the Convention and its Protocols and considered it fundamental that any action taken to combat organized crime must not only adhere to the aims of that instrument, but must also comply with international human rights law regarding suspected perpetrators and victims of such criminal acts. He stressed also that in the fight against cross-border crime, it was essential to strengthen internal legal systems, the rule of law and multilateral cooperation — including respect for State sovereignty — particularly with respect to the exchange of information, mutual legal assistance and extradition. To that end, States must foster full implementation of all obligations stemming from the Convention and its Protocols, including translating those obligations into national-level actions.
PEDRO NÚÑEZ MOSQUERA (Cuba) said international organized crime knew no boundaries. Today, no country could fight terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering, firearms smuggling and other forms of organized crime, alone. For countries with limited resources, due to the unequal international economic order, the challenge to fight those scourges was greater. The real fight must be to end underdevelopment and to create a more just international economic order. International cooperation, based on full respect for State sovereignty, national laws and State territorial integrity, was necessary to fight transnational organized crime. Cuba rejected all attempts to exaggerate such crimes based on the argument that they affected regional peace and stability, when the real motive was to limit States’ sovereignty. Cuba rejected the drafting of spurious lists of countries that allegedly committed violations of transnational organized crime.
He rejected the manipulative lists created by the United States on matters of terrorism, trafficking in persons and drug trafficking. They were nothing more than instruments of political pressure to punish Governments that did not comply with United States directives. Cuba was committed to the Convention, which it had ratified in 2007. It worked systematically through comprehensive economic, social and cultural development programmes and through constant improvements to legislation to implement the Convention’s goals. Cuba complied with all its international obligations. It had an outstanding record in the fight against organized crime, but it suffered the consequences of transnational organized crime. For example, Cuba had to confront a difficult migratory situation, where dishonest individuals made trafficking in persons a lucrative business. Concluding, he said the fight against terrorism must not be used as pretext to justify interference in the internal affairs of other States.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the scourge of organized crime continued to adversely affect the socio-economic development of all Member States. New developments in technology, the expansion of communication facilities and the rapid globalization of economies had aggravated that trend by providing criminal groups with unprecedented resources that enabled them to go far beyond specific territorial borders in pursuing their unlawful activities. Hence, addressing those serious challenges required further international cooperation and political commitments from all Member States and relevant international organizations. He sincerely hoped that the deliberations of the current meeting would foster such efforts. Iran was fully determined to fight transnational organized crime. Its 2008 anti-money-laundering law was part of its penal code, under which funds of illicit origin were traced and identified, in order to block their transfer and entrance into the monetary or financial institutions. The Government last year had established an independent financial intelligence unit for tracking the suspicious transactions. Also, the judiciary was very closely involved in prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators.
He said that, despite the existence of a relatively sufficient international legal apparatus, the production of opium and trafficking in narcotic drugs had sharply increased in recent years. Combating the world drug problem should be addressed in a multilateral setting. Iran had supported the creation of proper mechanisms for global and regional cooperation to better counter drug-related crimes. It had been particularly supportive of the regional triangular initiative between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which also enjoyed UNODC support. By spending approximately $600 million annually, his country had strengthened the physical barriers along its eastern borders with Afghanistan. Recently, measures for creating barriers along the western borders of Iran had also commenced to block passage of illicit drugs out of the country. Further, Iran had managed to seize approximately 1,100 tons of different types of opium-based drugs in 2009, 81 per cent of which had been seized along its eastern borders. Related actions taken by Iran had included the signing of memorandums of understanding with some 40 countries, equipping border points with the necessary technologies and participating in an operation aimed at preventing the smuggling of precursor chemicals into Afghanistan.
SUSAN WAFFA-OGOO (Gambia) said her country was party to the United Nations treaties on organized crime and it had support from UNODC. Transnational organized crime was increasing worldwide, as were the number of organized criminal groups. No region was immune from either one, or a combination of organized crime threats. Africa, in particular, was under attack, including its Governments, institutions, youth and its very future. Cocaine was not produced in West Africa, but cocaine trafficking was already disturbing the fragile peace in the region. Gambia did not want to see the introduction of more arms and criminal gangs into the region. Criminal gangs undermined societies. Drug trafficking in West Africa threatened to reverse years of gains in peace and security, as organized criminal gangs were hell-bent on using West Africa as transit countries for drugs en route to Europe. They would stop at nothing, unless international cooperation was stepped up to nip that crime in the bud. New resources must be mobilized to combat that crime.
The recent seizure in Gambia of more than two tons of cocaine worth about $1 billion showed that the Government was confronting that scourge, she said. International support was critical in Gambia’s efforts to stop networks of drug traffickers, and she called for cooperation at a new enhanced level. In 2008, an plan to fight organized crime had been adopted for West Africa. It defined the timeframes for expecting tangible results. West African countries had made a political commitment to cooperate with donors. International cooperation was needed to stop shipments, as were intelligence to track those involved and money to pay for investigations. The national capacity to confront those threats must be enhanced. Gambia’s President was committed to prevent Gambia from becoming a “narco State”.
SIMONA MIRELA MICULESCU (Romania) said transnational crime was more than an extension of domestic crime; transnational organized crime groups responded to market incentives and operated through cooperative relationships. As multinational criminal systems became more efficient and powerful, they severely challenged the whole world and, in the twenty-first century, “we all have to overcome it in ever more creative ways”. The Convention provided the appropriate international framework for fighting that scourge, and she encouraged States to become parties to it and to promote that and other instruments by ensuring their full and effective implementation. Nevertheless, existing methods in fighting the growing threat of organized crime were not enough. The linguistic barrier, lack of or limited channels for information exchange and insufficient respect for human rights must be overcome, and a thorough analysis of the current means of fighting organized crime must be undertaken, along with exploration of better information exchanges and best law enforcement practices. UNODC was a key partner in that endeavour and she encouraged Member States to support its work.
Recently, she noted, at the debates of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held in Vienna last month, Romania had co-sponsored the resolution on strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women. Together with Italy, it had co-sponsored the decision on strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to counterfeiting and piracy. The transnational organized crime Convention provided the tools for solid cooperation at the global level, facilitating information-sharing and law enforcement cooperation. To date, and together with countries in Europe, Asia and the American continent, Romania had concluded 90 bilateral agreements of cooperation in the field of prevention and the fight against organized crime, human trafficking, illegal migration, drug trafficking, terrorism and other non-conventional threats to security. Her country was seeking to tackle the human trafficking problem from a wide angle: on the one hand, trying to prevent it through public awareness campaigns; and on the other hand, carrying on an intensive fight against the phenomenon, through victim protection measures.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) called on States that had not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the Palermo Convention and its Protocols. Only by combining national responses with bilateral, regional and international cooperation could a State effectively fight transnational organized crime. He commended UNODC’s wide-ranging activities to help Member States in their struggle against transnational organized crime, including its report The Globalization of Crime: a Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment that gave insights into trafficking flows of drugs, firearms, people, natural resources and counterfeit products, as well as maritime piracy and cybercrime. Mongolia was a State party to the Palermo Convention and its three related Protocols. It was also a party to 13 of the 16 universal anti-terrorism instruments. An increasing number of Mongolians were being lured into trafficking for exploitation purposes and Mongolia’s Government was taking measures to counter that.
For example, she said, in February 2008, the Mongolian Parliament had passed a series of amendments to the criminal code’s anti-trafficking provisions, prohibiting all elements of the trafficking process and providing for harsher penalties that reflected the gravity of the crime. That reinforced the legal framework for combating trafficking and made it easier to prosecute traffickers. Moreover, the Parliament had commissioned the drafting of a law to protect human trafficking victims and witnesses. A special working group had been set up in the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs to end that. Mongolia was a party to three international conventions on drug control. A 2003 memorandum of understanding between Mongolian officials and UNDOC on creating a cooperation framework in the field of drug control and crime prevention offered a solid basis for joint efforts.
GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ (Peru) lamented that there were only 154 parties to the Convention, with 38 Member States still not party to that “instrument of such capital importance”. An even greater number had not acceded to its Protocols. Much remained to be done to ensure that more States joined those instruments. Today’s meeting was an important forum for renewing the commitment to fight those threats. Peru, which had ratified the Convention and its Protocols, stressed that sufficient resources, cooperation and technical assistance were needed on an ongoing basis. Globalization had provided unprecedented opportunities for the development of transnational organized crime. Cross-border networks had proliferated, along with trafficking in persons, prostitution, slavery, illegal arms trafficking, corruption, money laundering and terrorism — leading to an interconnected network requiring a holistic and coordinated approach for its suppression. Those networks forged fortunes in the millions, which, in some cases, were greater than the amounts earmarked by States to deal with them.
Nevertheless, he said, his delegation had faith in the capacity of States to deal with those transnational illegal networks, but an “iron will” was needed. Peru would safeguard its citizens and was available on an ongoing basis to cooperate with the international community to exchange information and best practices. Peru had a strategy for training and awareness raising to combat illicit trafficking in persons and it was developing new policies for preventing and prosecuting that crime. It had also been working to combat forced labour through a national commission, and it had a national committee for preventing and eradicating child labour, in particular. Among other things, Peru had developed a three-pronged national strategy to fight drugs. As a result, many hectares of coca leaf had been eradicated and illegal coca crops and laboratories used to produce coca paste had been destroyed or shut down. He thanked UNODC for its help in developing alternative crops, but the country still required international cooperation, which, unfortunately, had diminished in recent years. Peru was also actively engaged in combating the illicit arms trade and was working with the United Nations regional peace and disarmament centre headquartered in Lima.
HÜSEYIN MÜFTÜOĞLU (Turkey) said organized crime groups had become more diverse. Transnational organized crime undermined State authority and weakened the rule of law. It exacerbated peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts of the international community and it posed significant challenges for countries emerging from conflict. The interconnected nature of terrorism and organized crime had become more troubling in recent years. Revenue generated from drug trafficking was a primary source of terrorist financing. The magnitude of the problems differed from one region to the next, but geography could not longer act as a shield to threats from transnational organized crime. The fight against it required strong international cooperation and well-established programmes towards that end already existed. The international community’s efforts must be aimed at strengthening cooperation within those frameworks. The anti-crime Convention provided the necessary legal framework for international cooperation to combat transnational organized crime.
He lauded the work of UNODC in building the capacity of Member States to combat drug trafficking. Turkey had already signed and ratified the Palermo Convention and its Protocols and had ratified the Convention against Corruption. It had multilateral agreements with 72 countries to fight various forms of organized crime and it was a party to many regional cooperation schemes in the Balkans and Black Sea region. The Turkish International Academy against International Organized Crime had an international curriculum to provide training to combat various forms of organized crime. He expressed hope that the high-level Assembly meeting would further strengthen international efforts to fight transnational organized crime.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the meeting should motivate a redoubling of efforts to combat organized crime and a stepping stone to dwell upon the ever growing threats. Such efforts must be comprehensive and based on common and shared responsibility, and directed at enhancing States’ capacity to prevent and combat those crimes. He attached great important to discussing emerging issues; international cooperation in combating transnational organized crime in its scope and magnitude should be advanced. Among those crimes, he cited illegal logging and illegal fishing, both of which had a devastating effect on financial, economic, social and environmental conditions. The Convention’s article 3 dealt with those crimes, which were equally highlighted in the Salvador Declaration. Organized crime tentacles preyed on timber, destroying lush forests. Societies that depended on forests for their livelihood were left with debris and bushes and, in many instances, local governments were unable to foot the bill to restore them. He added that countries of origin, transit and destination had a moral obligation to prevent and criminalize those activities.
On the question of a review mechanism, he said that the mechanism enshrined in the Convention was sufficient to tackle implementation. The Convention was still at its early stage; it was tempting to criticize it and far easier to come up with a new mechanism, instead of enforcing the current one. “We should opt for the most difficult one: enforcing the current review mechanism,” he stressed. “Let us not reinvent the wheel. Let us not reinvent the same debate that occurred 10 years ago.” In closing, he said that the tentacles of organized crime were gripping societies and even bringing countries to the brink of despair and destitution. Organized crime did not recognize national boundaries and crossed the globe. Victims were crying out for help, yet little had been achieved in the drive to prevent those crimes from wreaking havoc. Success in that difficult endeavour could only succeed through regional and international cooperation. The Bali process was one such way to promote those efforts.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) announced that his Government had decided to ratify the Conventions and its three Protocols, and was also committed to working through the various regional and international cooperation mechanisms towards a world free of transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, money laundering, illegal arms transactions, people trafficking and smuggling, and, above all, terrorism. Specifically on terrorism, he noted that, for decades, India had been a victim of that scourge. It also affected other countries by undermining peace, democracy and freedom, as well as endangering the international community and humankind as a whole. While the Palermo Convention promoted strengthened cooperation among national law enforcement apparatuses, it was critical that States also strengthen the legal framework specifically targeting terrorism.
To that end, he said, negotiations on the long-proposed comprehensive treaty against international terrorism had reached a point where the legal issues had been resolved, and now was the time to “give the [convention] the necessary political push” towards its urgent adoption. He went on to say that, while international cooperation was the cornerstone of States’ efforts to prevent, prosecute and punish transnational crime, it was important to acknowledge the role of State-level action and cooperation in that fight, as well as to take steps for enhancing and reinforcing global cooperation at all levels. India was also concerned by the increase in human trafficking, as well as by the complexities in dealing with that issue. While national efforts to stamp out that scourge were essential, greater cohesion at the international level was crucial, including the establishment of institutional arrangements at the bilateral, regional and international levels. Further to that end, he urged Member States to urgently wrap up negotiations under way in the General Assembly on a United Nations action plan to combat trafficking in persons.
CLAUDIA BLUM (Colombia) said the Convention was an appropriate legal framework and, fully implemented, an effective tool. Its adoption represented a major step forward and was evidence of States’ recognition of the serious challenges posed by transnational organized crime. It introduced legal “novelties”, not only by criminalizing participation in an organized criminal group, but also by developing a framework to combat money laundering and related offences. Correctly, it established as a primary purpose facilitating international cooperation and gave particular importance to measures of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition. Colombia had adopted measures and legal instruments to go beyond the provisions of the Convention and its Protocols. The country had focused its institutional and legal efforts on dismantling the finances of illegal armed groups and other organizations involved in drug trafficking, among other forms of organized crime. But one State alone could not defeat multidimensional and transnational crime. Organized crime affected the entire international community; a global problem required a global response.
When adopting the treaty, the Assembly had expressed grave concern over the growing links between transnational organized crime and terrorism, and called on States to recognize those links and apply the Convention to address them, she recalled. The existence of those connections or strategic alliances between crime and terrorism was indisputable. While the motivations might be different, transnational organized crime was used by terrorist groups to finance and facilitate their criminal activities. Consequently, those two forms of crime must be combated in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. The States parties to the Convention must enhance international cooperation, and flexible channels must be created to enable the authorities to act swiftly and efficiently. Delay in responding to requests for judicial cooperation only serviced to further the unlawful aims. Her country also supported the establishment of an impartial, effective, transparent and reliable review mechanism, which did not provide sanctions of any kind. Organized crime could not be defeated in isolation. It required strategic alliances to jointly advance towards a safer society.
MARIA TERESA MESQUITA PESSÔA (Brazil) said that, with the Palermo Convention, the international community already had at its disposal the legal instruments to combat transnational organized crime in all its forms and, as such, it should be used to control and prevent illegal cross-border activities such as people trafficking, organ smuggling and money laundering. “Universal participation in the Convention is of the utmost importance,” she said, reminding the Assembly that organized crime affected all States, rich and poor. Member States must, therefore, get past the simple assumption that it was only a problem for developing countries.
Brazil believed that effective cooperation, including South-South cooperation, would benefit the entire international community, as it would contribute to capacity-building in law enforcement, as well as the judicial and security sectors. That was especially necessary, she said, as strong State agencies staffed by well-trained personnel were indispensable in the fight against organized crime and criminal networks. In that context, she believed that the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held in Salvador, Bahia, in April had contributed to the effort to renew international commitment towards fighting crime and reinforcing justice. Her Government was confident that the outcome of the meeting, the “Salvador Declaration”, would contribute to enhancing mechanisms of international cooperation and bring concrete results in the combat against transnational organized crime.
CONNIE TARACENA SECAIRA (Guatemala) said transnational organized crime had become a global threat. The fight against it should be global; the United Nations was the ideal organization to lead that fight. Guatemala was cooperating with UNODC on critical issues of security, development, organized crime, legal sector reform, prison sector reform, monitoring drug plantations, and corruption, among others issues. In March, Guatemala’s Government and UNODC had created the “Integrated programme for Guatemala: Strengthening the state of law, security and justice” and a memorandum of understanding to set up a national programmes office responsible for implementing the integrated programme and a centre for excellence, with expertise and specialization in the Palermo Convention. UNODC anticipated creation of centres of excellence in each Central American nation to foster regional expert cooperation on security questions. The centres aimed to strengthen the rule of law and global cooperation against organized crime.
The centres would focus on scientific research, trends’ analysis, capacity-building through training, information exchange and cooperation, she said. Their creation would help improve data collection, analyse trends in the region and develop technical assistance programmes to combat and prevent organized crime, in partnership with law enforcement and security bodies such as the police, customs officials, prosecutors and forensic teams, among others. UNODC was in the process of creating such centres in Central America. It aimed to set up three centres in 2010, including one in Panama focusing on maritime security; a centre in El Salvador for urban crime prevention; and one in Guatemala for organized crime. Guatemala had partnered with the United Nations three years ago to set up the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. Last year, the Guatemalan Government had formed the National Accord for the Advancement of Security and Justice, which supported implementation of the Commission’s mandate.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan) said transnational organized crime was a major threat to the international community security system, affecting the social, economic and political development of countries worldwide. Noting that it was the fifteenth anniversary of the launch of the global action plan against transnational organized crime and the tenth anniversary of the Palermo Convention, she said that the latter instrument was a solid legal basis and contained a comprehensive framework for mutual legal assistance, extradition, law enforcement cooperation, technical help and training. Regrettably, however, adherence to it was still far from universal. The collective response to the problem could only be effective if the treaty framework was strengthened through universal participation and implementation. She urged all countries to join the Convention and its Protocols, as her country had done on 31 July 2008. With the cooperation of United Nations specialized agencies and regional organizations, Kazakhstan had undertaken all possible efforts to decrease the world crime problem, which had widened in the past decade to include human and drug trafficking, cybercrime and money laundering, among others. All those placed a heavy burden on States.
She highlighted two serious problems in her country — illicit drug trafficking and human trafficking — noting that her country was undertaking all possible efforts to fight the illicit drug trafficking on its territory, and regionally. The scale of drug abuse in Kazakhstan and neighbouring countries had been growing, despite the fact that those countries were neither producers, nor countries of destination. Kazakhstan was also affected by human trafficking, and strongly advocated the development of a unique mechanism to create awareness of the issue and galvanize implementation of the framework of conventions and agreements, uniting the efforts of all stakeholders. Kazakhstan, as a member of the group of friends against human trafficking, strongly supported the draft action plan recently tabled and hoped for its adoption by the end of the current Assembly session. A multitude of measures had been taken, but more must be done.
GAREN NAZARIAN (Armenia), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said the fight against organized crime was high on his Government’s agenda, since Armenia was in close proximity to trafficking routes, which seriously threatened security, public health and the safety and well-being of its citizenry, often undermining socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development. As such, his Government had taken some decisive steps. Armenia was party to the Palermo Convention and two of its Protocols and it had enhanced relevant national legislation and increased mutual legal assistance and information sharing. Some important recent legislative changes had concerned such issues as cybercrime, drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking. In addition, the comprehensive programme on the fight against money laundering for 2009-2010 was being successfully implemented. It created an effective system of cooperation between various Government actors.
He said that pursuant to the anti-corruption strategy of the Republic of Armenia for 2009-2012, the country continued to strengthen its cooperation with international and regional organizations, striving to increase the capacities of Armenian law enforcement bodies. It was also taking steps to harmonize its legal framework with international standards. The fight against trafficking in human beings was another priority for Armenia, which had carried out various activities, including improvement of the legislative and institutional frameworks, examination of the trafficking problem — both domestically and abroad — and protection for trafficking victims. The sophistication of today’s transnational criminal networks and their links to other threats, such as terrorism, required vigilance in updating ways of combating those crimes and better coordinating united efforts. In today’s globalized world, success was only possible through enhanced international cooperation. He reiterated Armenia’s readiness to be a committed member of the international community in its fight against transnational organized crime.
LUCAS SWANEPOEL, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, said the Naples Declaration and the Palermo Convention were substantial international efforts to establish cooperation to prevent criminal activity and prosecute perpetrators. Of the millions of victims of trafficking today, more than 70 per cent, overwhelmingly women and girls, was trafficked for sexual exploitation. That reality was tragic and inexcusable. Trafficking in women and girls was based on a balance between the supply of victims in sending countries and the demand for them in receiving countries. Victims’ rights, the demand for them and the insidious degradation of human dignity that accompanied trafficking in persons must be addressed. Rather than doing that, more and more laws were passed that sought to legitimize that dehumanizing work. Even global sporting and social events meant to foster greater respect and harmony among people had become opportunities for the greater exploitation and trafficking of women and girls.
The global drug trade continued to devastate individuals, families and communities worldwide, he said. In areas of drug production, the demand for illegal drugs fuelled organized gangs, drug cartels and terrorists. Those criminal organizations used financing from their illegal activities to spread fear and violence in order to secure power and fulfil their pursuit of greed. Those activities must be addressed urgently by all legitimate means possible in order to allow communities to live in peace and prosperity, rather than in fear of crime and hostility. The demand for drugs, driven heavily by the developed world, must also be addressed. Drug use not only afflicted the international community, it was physically, socially and spiritually detrimental to individuals and their families. It was necessary to focus on individuals to prevent drug abuse and rehabilitate drug users, so they could contribute more fully to the common good.
AMY MUEDIN, Programme Specialist, the International Organization for Migration, said that one of the most challenging aspects of efforts to tackle transnational organized crime was preventing human trafficking and people smuggling. While the issue of trafficking in people began to take centre stage as a major human rights concern, she said it had always received notice at the United Nations, where numerous initiatives were taking place, including the current discussions on a United Nations global plan of action on preventing trafficking, prosecuting traffickers and assisting victims.
Over the past two years, her agency had intensified its fight against the scourge, building on its long experience in supporting States and civil society actors in the areas of prevention, prosecution and, above all, victims’ protection. One of the agency’s major accomplishments could be seen in the widening dissemination and use of the Handbook on Direct Assistance for Victims of Trafficking, which was the outcome of its experience in assisting more than 20,000 trafficked persons in some 100 countries. The Handbook provided the guidance and advice necessary to effectively deliver a full range of assistance to victims from the point of initial contact and screening, up to the effective social reintegration. She noted that, while trafficking in persons was a serious crime that required a rights-based approach, it was not a stand-alone phenomenon and needed to be addressed comprehensively within the broader context of managing migration. Finding the right balance between facilitating and controlling migration was a key challenge for all countries in their attempts to make international mobility safe.
* *** *