Security Council Calls for Strengthened International, Regional Cooperation to Counter Transnational Organized Crime, in Presidential Statement
Security Council Calls for Strengthened International, Regional Cooperation to Counter Transnational Organized Crime, in Presidential Statement
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6277th Meeting (AM)
Security Council Calls for Strengthened International, Regional Cooperation
to Counter Transnational Organized Crime, in Presidential Statement
Head of United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Antonio Maria Costa Briefs;
Secretary-General: States Must Mount Comprehensive Response to Criminal Scourge
With the top United Nations anti-drug official urging concerted global action to “break the vicious circle between insecurity and underdevelopment” being increasingly fuelled by criminal networks, drug smugglers and human traffickers, the Security Council today called on the world body’s Member States to increase international and regional cooperation to tackle transnational organized crime.
Following an in-depth briefing by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on threats to global peace and security posed by drug trafficking and other organized criminal activity, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement (S/2009/PRST/4), noting that such transnational threats were a “growing concern” and might threaten the security of countries on its agenda, including nations trying to recover from conflict.
In the statement, read by Gérard Araud of France, which holds the Council’s Presidency for February, the 15-nation body also noted with concern the increasing link, in some cases, between drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism, including through the use of proceeds derived from illicit cultivation, production of and trafficking in narcotic drugs and their precursors, as well as illegal arms trafficking. The Council said it would consider all such transnational threats, as appropriate.
The Council noted that in a globalized society, organized crime groups and networks, now better armed with high tech communications equipment, were becoming more diversified and connected in their illicit operations, which might aggravate threats to international security. In such a context, the Council was particularly concerned by the emergence of cybercrime, as well as the “increase in kidnapping and hostage-taking, in some areas of the world with a specific political context, with the aim of raising funds or gaining political concessions”.
Reaffirming and commending the work of UNODC in collaboration with other relevant United Nations entities, the Council encouraged Member States to broaden cooperation at all levels with that agency and the International Narcotic Control Board to counter the illicit production of, demand for and trafficking in drugs, and to identify emerging drug trafficking trends.
The Council invited Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who opened today’s meeting, to consider transnational threats as a factor in conflict prevention strategies, conflict analysis, integrated missions’ assessment and planning and to consider including in his reports, as appropriate, analysis on the role played by those threats in situations on the Council’s agenda.
In his statement, Secretary-General Ban warned the Council that, so far, cooperation between Governments was lagging behind cooperation between organized crime networks. Member States must mount a comprehensive and coordinated response against that scourge, just as they had in they had united to fight pandemics, poverty, climate change and terrorism.
He noted that, while Governments had worked together on a number of important initiatives, including the General Assembly's efforts against drugs, the Kimberley Process against blood diamonds, and the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking: “[T]here is so much more to be done against emerging threats like cyber-crime, money-laundering, environmental crime, and the dumping of hazardous waste.”
As a starting point, he recalled that the Crime Prevention Congress to be held in April in Salvador, Brazil, would offer an opportunity to explore how the international community could strengthen the legal and operational means to fight them. This year also marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and he urged Governments to sharpen that “powerful instrument” at the Conference of Parties in October. One of the most important improvements would be the establishment of a monitoring mechanism, he added.
“Transnational networks create vectors of violence that blaze trails of death and destruction through some of the world's most vulnerable regions. Crime prevention is conflict prevention: together they build safer and healthier societies,” he said, adding that criminal justice should figure more prominently in United Nations peacebuilding and peacekeeping. “Together, let us prevent drug trafficking and organized crime from threatening international peace and security and all our hard-won work, across our agenda,” he declared.
For his part, Mr. Costa also urged the international community to shore up their legal defences against organized crime networks, warning that international mafias particularly exploited the instability caused by conflict. They thrived in areas lost to insurgency and took advantage of a Government’s inability to provide security. That created a vicious circle, he said, declaring that vulnerability attracted crime, crime in turn deepened vulnerability. In a chain reaction, humanitarian crises followed, development was stalled and peacekeepers were deployed.
A bigger problem was that even though technology had practically abolished time and space, and stakeholders should know what was happening around the planet at any moment, they didn’t. “There are so many forgotten places, out of Government control, too scary for investors and tourists […] precisely the places where smugglers, insurgents and terrorists operate,” he said, adding that unperturbed and undetected, they ran fleets of ships and planes, trucks and containers that carried tons of drugs and weapons.
With “so many blank spots on the radar screen, with deadly consequences”, he called for a change in attitude. Indeed, it was time to regard information sharing as a way of strengthening sovereignty, and not surrendering it. If police stopped at borders while criminals crossed them freely, sovereignty was already breached. A more cooperative attitude would help establish networks to monitor illicit flows, share intelligence and carry out joint operations. His Office supported that in Central and West Asia, the Gulf, West Africa, and along the main drug routes into Europe and across Mesoamerica. More was needed, for example, across the Sahara-Sahel region, as proposed to the Council in December.
He said that, because of the cross-cutting nature of organized crime, a system-wide response was needed. He was pleased that the Council supported the growing cooperation of various relevant departments and the Peacebuilding Commission, as that would ensure that the United Nations conflict prevention, crisis management and peacekeeping included a criminal justice component. The Council might also want to consider including a criminal justice component into relevant peacekeeping missions.
“We need deeds more than words,” he said, noting that just last week, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ministers had told him that cocaine trafficking in the region had declined in the past 18 months. However, there were warning signs that traffickers were returning to the scene, because tough words had not been matched by equally robust actions. “Let’s learn the lesson.”
When Council members addressed the meeting, most agreed that, in the current era of globalization, organized criminal networks had become more diversified and connected. They also highlighted successful efforts underway to curb poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and to rout drug traffickers in West Africa. While they stressed the need for broad global cooperation to tackle the threats posed by such groups, including trafficking in drugs, weapons and people, as well as money laundering, terrorist financing and cybercrime, they expressed particular concern for the havoc organized criminal activity could wreak in countries with weak justice systems and haphazard law enforcement or border controls.
Along those lines, the representative of the United Kingdom said the fact that countries and regions where the rule of law was weak were particularly vulnerable to such threats underlined the importance of coordinated international engagement, often with a strong peacebuilding focus, to help build capacity in places most at risk. Time and again, as the Council examined cases of recurring conflict, it saw that weak judicial systems and lack of effective policing capacity were a big part of the problem. He said that all those were sensitive issues that would not be easy for any Government. But, if transnational criminals were agile and inventive, so must be the response of the international community.
Similarly, Nigeria’s representative said that tackling challenges posed by drug trafficking required coordinated, comprehensive and effective global cooperation. Such an approach obliged not only the Security Council, but the wider international community to take into account the larger question of drug supply and demand control channels. The international community already had the legal instruments and tools to make crime unattractive and unprofitable. What was needed now was the mobilization of the requisite political will and resources to win the war against organized transnational criminals.
Speaking in his national capacity, the representative of France, whose delegation had called the meeting, said that while today’s topic was not at the heart of the Council’s mandate -- it was dealt with comprehensively by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council -- widespread emergence of cross-cutting challenges played an ever greater role in State security and regional and international stability.
The Council had observed that with many items on its agenda, including in West Africa, Haiti and Afghanistan. He said that when the consequences of criminal networks threatened international peace and security, the Council must deal with the issues, and regular briefings by UNODC would keep the Council abreast of the situation.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Turkey, Mexico, Uganda, China, Gabon, Lebanon, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japan, United States, Brazil, and Austria.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:30 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2010/4 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
“The Security Council notes with concern the serious threats posed in some cases by drug trafficking and transnational organized crime to international security in different regions of the world. These transnational threats are a source of growing concern.
“The Security Council, in this context, further notes with concern the increasing link, in some cases, between drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism, including through the use of proceeds derived from illicit cultivation, production of and trafficking in narcotic drugs and their precursors, as well as illegal arms trafficking.
“The Security Council notes that these transnational crimes may threaten the security of countries on its agenda, including post-conflict states, and expresses its intention to consider such threats, as appropriate.
“The Security Council notes with concern that drug trafficking and transnational organized crime contribute to undermine the authority of states.
“The Security Council notes that, in a globalized society, organized crime groups and networks, better equipped with new information and communication technologies, are becoming more diversified and connected in their illicit operations, which in some cases may aggravate threats to international security. In this context, the Council expresses concern at the increase in incidences of kidnapping and hostage-taking, in some areas of the world with a specific political context, with the aim of raising funds or gaining political concessions. The development of cybercrime is another particular source of concern.
“The Security Council calls upon Member States to increase international and regional cooperation, on the basis of a common and shared responsibility, as well as their cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotic Control Board, in order to counter the illicit production of, demand for and trafficking in drugs, and to identify emerging trends in drug trafficking. It welcomes relevant initiatives such as the Paris Pact. The Council also encourages Member States to undertake further action, as well as to consider, on the basis of concrete proposals by UNODC and INCB, through the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, possible new international initiatives aimed at strengthening the combat against illicit trafficking in chemical precursors.
“The Security Council encourages the coordination of United Nations actions, including those of its agencies, funds and programmes, in order to enhance the effectiveness of appropriate international efforts.
“The Security Council reaffirms and commends the important work of UNODC in collaboration with other relevant entities of the United Nations.
“The Security Council encourages States to strengthen international, regional and sub-regional cooperation to counterdrug trafficking, transnational organized crime, terrorism and corruption and to investigate and prosecute, as appropriate, persons and entities responsible for these crimes consistent with international law. Through compliance with their obligations under international law, including the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, States can help strengthen international peace and security. The Council notes relevant international conventions such as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the United Nations Convention against Transnational organized crime of 2000 and the Protocols thereto, the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 2003 and the relevant international conventions and protocols related to terrorism.
“The Security Council expresses its concern about the number of victims caused by acts of terrorism in various regions of the world. The Council further reiterates that acts, methods and practices of terrorism, as well as knowingly financing, planning and inciting terrorist acts, are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. The Council calls upon States to continue to condemn in the strongest terms all terrorist acts, irrespective of their motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed, as well as the incitement of terrorism.
“The Security Council invites the Secretary-General to consider these threats as a factor in conflict prevention strategies, conflict analysis, integrated missions’ assessment and planning and to consider including in his reports, as appropriate, analysis on the role played by these threats in situations on its agenda.
“The Security Council welcomes further briefings, as necessary, on a more regular basis, by the Executive Director of UNODC.”
The Security Council met this morning to consider threats to international peace and security and to hear a briefing by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna.
Statement by United Nations Secretary-General
Opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that transnational issues, including drug trafficking and organized crime, were an increasing presence on the Council’s agenda, which reflected the seriousness of the threats they posed. Indeed, drug trafficking and organized crime affected almost all aspects of the United Nations work -- in development, security, environment and the rule of law. “But seen from a different perspective, this also means that all our work, in every sphere, can reduce the risk and impact of transnational threats,” he said, and that was why the world body’s response must be global and integrated, both within the United Nations family and as a family of nations.
Turning to efforts to mount a global response, he said that since Member States had united to fight pandemics, poverty, climate change and terrorism, they could and must do the same to counter organized crime. Already, member States had worked together on a number of important initiatives to that end, including the General Assembly’s efforts against drugs, the Kimberly process against the trade in blood diamonds and the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. “But there is so much more to be done against emerging threats like cybercrime, money laundering, environmental crime, and the dumping of hazardous waste,” he said.
He reminded the Council that the Congress on Crime Prevention set to be held in April in Salvador, Brazil, would offer an opportunity to explore ways the international community could strengthen the legal and operational means to fight them. In addition, this year was the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and he urged Member States to sharpen that powerful tool at the Conference of Parties in October. One of the most important improvements would be establishing a monitoring mechanism, he added.
“In this work, we should not only focus on what we are battling against. We must never lose sight of what we are fighting for: that is, justice and the rule of law,” he said, declaring: “We cannot fight fire with fire; the criminals use ruthless and exploitative methods which we can never contemplate. Human rights must always be at the forefront of efforts to control crime.” Turning to integration, which was essential at many levels, he said that national agencies must pull together to fight all aspects of crime. Regionally, States must share information and carry out joint operations. That was not easy, and lack of capacity and lack of trust often caused problems.
Yet, lack of capacity could be overcome, as had been seen in West Africa, where vulnerability to drugs and crime was being reduced thanks to the work of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in support of the Praia Process. The West Africa Coast Initiative involving the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and the Department of Political Affairs was also a good example of the “one United Nations” approach. He urged Council members to support similar regional initiatives, like the Santo Domingo Pact that would be launched at Headquarters today.
As for building trust, he said that experience had shown that tackling common threats could build confidence and good neighbourly relations between countries that might otherwise have their differences. Information-sharing initiatives on the drug trade in West Asia, Central Asia and the Gulf were among the examples where that had happened. “With transnational threats, States have no choice but to work together. We are all affected -- whether as countries of supply, trafficking or demand. Therefore, we have a shared responsibility to act,” he said.
Continuing, he stressed that transnational networks created vectors of violence that blazed trails of death and destruction through some of the world’s most vulnerable regions. “Crime prevention is conflict prevention; together they build safer and healthier societies. Criminal justice should figure more prominently in United Nations peacebuilding and peacekeeping,” he said.
The time to act was now, he said. The Council’s most recent presidential statement on the issue recommended that he provide more information on transnational threats, and he pledged to work more closely with all relevant parts of the United Nations system to bring impending threats to the 15-member body’s attention. “In return, I urge you to ensure that early warning is followed up by early action […] Together, let us prevent drug trafficking and organized crime form threatening international peace and security and all our hard-won work,” he said.
In a statement entitled “Organized crime is a threat to security: case studies and policy options”, ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that previous debates on violent theatres -- Afghanistan, Congo, Central America, Somalia, West Africa -- and on transnational crimes -- drug trafficking, piracy, natural resources smuggling -- had shown how seriously the Council took those threats to peace and security. The background was well known. International mafias exploited the instability caused by conflicts. They thrived in areas lost to insurgency and took advantage of a Government’s inability to provide security. That created a vicious circle, illustrated in his Office’s report, “Crime and Instability, case studies of transnational threats” -- vulnerability attracted crime, crime in turn deepened vulnerability. In a chain reaction, humanitarian crises followed, development was stalled and peacekeepers were deployed.
He said that, historically, those problems had been limited to a few trouble spots. Yet, in today’s globalized world, violence in far-away locations eventually affected everybody. Today’s unimpeded movement of goods, services, capital, people and information was creating wealth and freedom; it had also unleashed unprecedented opportunities for organized crime to wreck both. The Council’s past reviews of those issues faced a tough dilemma: how could a multilateral system created to deal with tensions between nations fight criminal groups that were non-State, yet transnational and powerful enough to threaten sovereign States? First of all, States must strengthen their own capacity. But given the global nature of that threat, national efforts must be part of a multilateral framework. How could that be done?
First, he said, vulnerability to organized crime could be reduced most effectively through development and security, the basic pillars of the United Nations. Development was the best prevention. Throughout the world, “prosperity and good governance are vaccines against violence”. The Millennium Development Goals were the most effective antidote to crime, while crime prevention helped to reach those Goals. Security was equally crucial. By resolving conflicts and helping Governments to enforce the law, the Council not only built peace, but it made the affected regions less prone to crime. Conversely, fighting crime helped to “take out” the spoilers who invested in violence and stability.
To illustrate that, he suggested overlaying a map of illicit trafficking routes with a map of conflicts. Then, juxtapose a histogram of per-capita incomes. One would see that crime, violence and underdevelopment overlapped. And those regions, of course, coincided with United Nations peacekeeping operations.
“But we cannot just throw money or troops at this problem,” he warned. Peace and prosperity also depended on justice. A global legal framework existed. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted in Palermo 10 years ago, was a twenty-first century solution to a twenty-first century problem. Yet, one-third of Member States, including some major countries, had not yet ratified it. Implementation was patchy. There was no review mechanism, and some of its protocols were neglected. The Council could help. Later in the year, a treaty event at the General Assembly, two ministerial sessions --in New York and Vienna -- and a conference of the parties would promote ratification. They would also call for technical assistance and consider a mechanism to review implementation. A strong signal from the Council to take those events seriously would add a sense of purpose and urgency.
Equally important were the institutions needed to administer justice, he went on. So many countries lacked the resources to make them work. He invited the development assistance community to help his Office upgrade criminal justice systems in vulnerable countries, especially in Africa. There was also a health dimension. Unless the threat posed by organized crime was confronted resolutely, there would be renewed calls to “dump” the three United Nations drug conventions, which critics said were the cause of the crime problem. Drug legalization would cause a health disaster, especially in poor countries.
Also needed was better knowledge about the way organized crime operated, he said. Technology had practically abolished time and space: so what went on around the planet, at any moment, should be known. However, it was not. There were so many forgotten places: out of government control and too scary for investors and tourists. Those were precisely the places where smugglers, insurgents and terrorists operated. Unperturbed and undetected, they ran fleets of ships and planes, trucks and containers, which carried tons of drugs and weapons. Their activities were mostly discovered by chance: a crash of a phantom plane; a drug ship short of fuel; a fortuitous seizure of an illicit cargo.
“There are many blank spots on the radar screens and our ignorance about what goes on has deadly consequences,” he said. A change in attitude was needed. It was time to regard information sharing as a way of strengthening sovereignty, not surrendering it. If police were stopped at borders, while criminals crossed them freely, sovereignty was already breached -- actually, it was surrendered to those who broke the law. A more cooperative attitude would help establish networks to monitor illicit flows, share intelligence and carry out joint operations. His Office supported that approach in Central and West Asia, the Gulf, West Africa, and along the main drug routes into Europe and across Mesoamerica. More was needed, for example, across the Sahara-Sahel region, as proposed to the Council in December.
It was also critical to be able to measure progress, he said. But, at present, unlike in other areas where the United Nations was the world’s best information provider, he could not report on crime trends, nor propose an integrated understanding of its causes and consequences. Intellectual and financial resources were required to develop the right expertise. Corruption and money laundering enabled crime to prosper. Concerning corruption, he committed his Office to provide periodic evidence of the progress made in fighting a crime that not only stole from the needy to enrich the greedy, but lubricated other crimes. Regarding the cargo planes loaded with drugs and arms, he asked: how were fraudulent pilot certificates, false registrations, forged bills of landing and altered tail numbers produced? How were massive shipments of counterfeit goods, illegally-cut timber or hazardous waste shipped worldwide? The “c” word had a lot to do with it.
Then there was money laundering, he said, adding that current arrangements had made it harder to recycle money through the financial system, but so many black holes -- informal money transfers (hawala), offshore banking, recycling through real estates and liquid assets -- needed to be plugged. To put into perspective the massive proceeds from crime, UNODC’s regular budget was just 1 per cent of the United Nations budget, which, itself, was less than 1 per cent of the yearly proceeds from the global drug trade of $320 billion. Or, put another way, one line of cocaine snorted in Europe killed one square metre of Andean rain forest and bought 100 rounds of AK-47 ammunition in West Africa. Multiply that by 850 tones of cocaine yearly and one got a sense that “this is a more uneven fight than between David and Goliath”.
He said that, because of the cross-cutting nature of organized crime, a system-wide response was needed. He was pleased that the Council supported the growing cooperation of various relevant departments and the Peacebuilding Commission, as that would ensure that the United Nations conflict prevention, crisis management and peacekeeping included a criminal justice component. Concerning the future, he was glad for the suggestion for the Council to hold periodic debates on the threats posed by organized crime to stability. Early warnings could be brought to the Council’s attention, as had occurred some time ago when attacks by cocaine traffickers on West Africa had been discovered. The Council might also want to consider including a criminal justice component into relevant peacekeeping missions.
“To conclude, we need deeds more than words,” he said. Last week, in West Africa, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ministers had told him that cocaine trafficking in the region had declined in the past 18 months. However, there were warning signs that traffickers were returning to the scene, because tough words had not been matched by equally robust actions. “Let’s learn the lesson.”
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey) said that, in the current era of globalization, organized criminal groups and networks had become more diversified and connected. As a result, such networks had successfully exploited the opportunities presented by globaliztion and had created parallel economies of their own, thriving on, among others, illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and money laundering. Therefore, the international community now faced a unique and growing phenomenon that posed important worldwide risks and threats that could undermine State authority, fuel corruption, hamper economic development and weaken the rule of law.
He said the Security Council had observed that “grim reality” on many occasions, and while he would not provide any examples, it was evident that such transnational threats posed a significant and particular challenge for countries emerging from conflict. As such, they exacerbated many crises in areas of United Nations operations and undermined peacekeeping, peacebuilding and peacemaking throughout the wider global community. Moreover, the interconnected nature of terrorism and transnational organized crime had also become more evident and troubling in recent years, and indeed, it was well-documented that the revenue generated from drug trafficking had become a primary source of terrorist financing, as well as for arms smuggling, human trafficking and money laundering.
“It is obvious that geography can no longer shield against these threats which don’t recognize any frontiers and thus the fight against this challenge must be based on a comprehensive, global and effective strategy,” he said. There was also a need for strong international cooperation on the basis of common and shared responsibility. In that regard, there were already well-established institutions and programmes within and outside the United Nations to address those threats, and the international community must first focus its efforts on strengthening cooperation within those frameworks and improving their efficiency. At the same time, it was clear that there was also a role for the Council to play in monitoring transnational threats as to their impact on international peace and security, especially in situations on the Council’s agenda, and in taking necessary actions, as appropriate, to help fight against those scourges.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) said today’s meeting was particularly timely, given the serious threats posed by emerging threats to international peace and security, such as drug trafficking and organized crime. Such threats went beyond borders, wrecked development, weakened political institutions and destabilized fragile States. The scourge of organized crime also spawned a raft of other ills, including corruption, child recruitment, and human rights violations. That was why it was crucial to help restore State authority in those countries that were overcoming conflict. That effort might be easier to tackle than one might fist think, especially since many countries on the rebound from war hosted United Nations peacekeeping missions.
For decades, the world drug problem had confounded the international community. Early analysis had de-linked the issues of supply and demand, but it had since become clear that they were indeed connected. Global actors must, therefore, design strategies that addressed the specificities of any crime, but also addressed common elements, thus making them easier to tackle. That would bolster the rule of law and help close existing legal gaps. In addition, the international community must better coordinate strategies and ensure that they evolved to match the speed and sophistication with which criminal actors reacted to Government and international legislation. That would require enhanced information-sharing and broader cooperation, he added.
He said the United Nations institutional response to transnational crime was vital and had yielded positive results, but it had been inadequate, especially against increasingly sophisticated organized criminal networks. Tackling the scourge required “an articulate response”, from a technical standpoint, as well as a high-level political commitment reminiscent of the political forces now marshalling against climate change. He noted that the high-level meeting on transnational organized crime set to be convened by the General Assembly would provide an opportunity to renew momentum and re-energize cooperation against that scourge. Such renewed momentum was crucial, since, besides human costs, organized crime diverted major resources away from economic and social development. Finally, he said it was time to consider ways the Council could contribute to the important work in the area being done by the General Assembly, Peacebuilding Commission and the UNODC, including cooperation on creating peacekeeping mandates that addressed drug trafficking and organized criminal activity.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA (Uganda) said that drug trafficking and organized crime posed a growing threat to international peace and security. The challenge of combating those crimes had become even more formidable, because the networks were using ever more advanced technology, such as satellites and cybertransactions. There was also a worsening trend towards linkages among drug trafficking, organized crime and the financing of terrorist acts. Moreover, many regions of the world were becoming vulnerable. It was critical, therefore, to strengthen collective efforts to combat those crimes through enhanced cooperation and coordination at all levels. He commended the role played by UNODC and the International Narcotics Control Board in strengthening States’ capacity to respond more effectively. Particularly welcome was the support of UNODC to regional institutions, including in West Africa, and more recently in East Africa.
He said his country continued to take the necessary measures, both nationally and within the framework of the West African community, the African Union and international instruments, to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. It had strengthened anti-narcotics and anti-terrorism legislation, which continued to be reviewed, taking into account emerging challenges. The relevant international conventions provided a firm legal framework for international action against organized crime. What was needed was to strengthen efforts towards implementation. The international community’s collective response to organized crime could be more effective through universal participation in those instruments.
The transnational crime networks were organized, he stressed. It was critical, therefore, that the actions and responses of the international community, regional and subregional organizations, and United Nations system and wider international community, were similarly comprehensive and well coordinated. The most vulnerable countries were those with weak control measures, especially those in conflict and post-conflict situations. Those deserved the support of UNODC and the international community. The proliferation of organized crime was a deterrent to investment and negatively impacted the economies of afflicted countries. The social fabric and health of segments of the population were also negatively affected. It was important, therefore, to take those threats into account, while developing conflict prevention and peacebuilding strategies. Uganda supported the Council’s presidential statement.
LIU ZHENMIN (China) said that, in recent years, the international community had made unremitting efforts to prevent and combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, achieving positive results. At the same time, international terrorism, transnational organized crime, and the production and trafficking of drugs had become interwoven and increasingly globalized, cyberbased and diversified. The challenges were daunting. In countries in conflict or post-conflict situations, there had been increased flows of illegal funds and weapons for the purpose of drug trafficking and organized crime, jeopardizing those countries’ social stability and economic development. Strengthening international cooperation on the basis of broad participation and shared responsibility was the most effective way to combat drug trafficking and related transnational crimes.
He said it was precisely the undiminished demand for drug consumption in some countries and the colossal profits that drove drug cartels. Since economically under-developed regions most often had countries of origin and of transit, control must be more balanced, and the demand for the drugs and the harm they caused must be reduced. Helping developing countries to develop their economies and generate jobs was the only approach to tackling the drug problem at its root. The drug problem was often rampant in impoverished societies. Some newly emerged from conflicts were plagued with problems of economic development, unemployment and inadequate legal institutions, and became major victims of international drug trafficking. Helping them to achieve economic development was of special significance in eliminating the roots of drug trafficking and related crimes. The international community must lend a hand.
Combating drug trafficking involved social development and a host of other dimensions, and required the full engagement of national governments, United Nations agencies and others, as well as international cooperation, he said. But, deciding on the main remedy rested with national governments. International cooperation must adhere to the principle of respect for sovereignty and assurance of mutual benefits. Agencies must be mobilized. The United Nations could play a greater coordinating role. UNODC and related treaty bodies should continue their efforts in that regard, and also help countries in their development aims.
He said that the Security Council shouldered the major responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and should, therefore, focus its attention on problems caused by armed conflicts. It could continue to be engaged in the fight against drugs and transnational crime from its own perspective, but the focus should be on drug trafficking and transnational organized crime faced by countries in conflict or post-conflict situations. At the same time, he hoped the Council’s deliberations on the issue would contribute to the global fight against drugs and transnational organized crimes.
ALFRED ALEXIS MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said there was no country or region that could tackle the scourge of organized crime alone. That was why broad cooperation and information-sharing were crucial, especially to head off the destabilizing effects of organized crime. Indeed, such criminal activity exacerbated the vicious circle of underdevelopment, especially in fragile countries or those that were recovering from conflict. Those countries needed the assistance of the international community, and all relevant stakeholders must work harder to bolster international legislation and action against organized crime. He also highlighted recent initiatives and mechanisms in the West Africa region aimed at tackling drug trafficking and called on the Council and the wider international community to help bolster them.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said transnational crime and drug trafficking groups and networks had never had such influence and global reach as they did today. The nexus between their illegal activities was increasingly alarming and they were associated with violence and corruption, and, in many cases, were used to finance terrorist groups and acts of terrorism. Thus, transnational organized crime and drug trafficking produced long-term negative impacts on peace, security and economic development and should clearly be fought in a coordinated manner on multiple fronts. He said that transnational crime, drug trafficking and terrorism often profited from the weak capacity of States to maintain and enforce laws. Such activities also fuelled existing conflicts and posed threats to peacebuilding efforts.
Overall, it was clear that transnational crime networks were better equipped with new information and communication technologies and were more diversified that ever before. Turning specifically to illicit drugs, he said that despite UNODC statistics showing a drop in global cocaine production and in heroin, efforts to tackle that scourge must nevertheless be intensified. That would require a comprehensive and coordinated international approach that took into account, among other things, cooperation between transit and destination countries, crop control strategies and alternative development plans and, where appropriate, special law enforcement measures.
On transnational crime, he called for efforts to build State capacities in the area of the rule of law. Moreover, since criminals were motivated by financial gain, he called for special efforts to hamper money laundering. As for countering terrorism, he said it was imperative to address root causes and strengthen responsible States, while respecting human rights in any global strategy for fighting terrorism.
IGOR N. SHCHERBAK (Russian Federation) said that illegal drug trafficking in connection with organized crime and terrorism had assumed a threatening proportion in various regions. He supported the focus of the Council, as the main body responsible for the maintenance of peace and security, in helping to resolve that problem. The drug threat from Afghanistan was as acute as ever, and global in nature. In the context of international peace and security, that required the Council to take appropriate action. The Paris-Moscow processes were among the most effective in the hands of the international community, based on the recent narco-trends in and around Afghanistan. It would be advisable, at the end of 2010, to hold a third conference on that process, at the level of relevant agency heads. There, a specific programme of action could be adopted on the Afghan track, based on previous policy decisions. He would also suggest detailed consideration at the conference of how to give technical and other assistance to Afghanistan and neighbouring Central Asian States.
He said that full use must also be made of the capabilities of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Another very important thrust in countering that country’s drug flow was cutting off illegal supplies and precursors for heroin. An important role, in that regard, fell to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and UNODC, which should be involved in developing initiatives aimed at strengthening the international precursor regime and identifying the producers and suppliers. It was also crucial to strengthen international monitoring of precursor flows, based on a system of notification of exports and re-exports at the Afghan border. Implementing programmes and projects aimed at combating the illegal Afghan precursor trade should also rely on the capacities of regional organizations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, among others.
Attention should also be focused on broadening the substantive quality work of the Council’s 1267 Committee, he said. In countering terrorism, a priority was countering its ideology and propaganda; those groups should be deprived the financial fuel and logistical resources. Civil society and business should be involved in those efforts, as called for in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and key resolutions of the Security Council. Recently, international information security had assumed greater importance. It was crucial to counter the use of information communication technologies for the purpose of undermining international peace, stability and security, and for terrorist purposes. There was a pressing need to adopt a universal convention. Today’s presidential statement would help step up international cooperation.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that the rapid growth of dangerous criminal networks affected global peace and security. Poorly governed countries, suffering also from humanitarian crises, were most vulnerable, while unstable situations were fertile ground for terrorist activities and corruption. Poor social and economic foundations, the lack of rule of law and rising corruption made development unsustainable and threatened international peace and security. The international community should first undertake further efforts to make developing countries less susceptible to organized crime, by addressing the root causes of poverty, health provision inadequacies, lagging development and insufficient institution building. The international community would, thus, enable developing countries to fight organized crime and help itself at the same time.
He said that, in order to create a common assessment of rising crime, the United Nations and relevant agencies should improve coherence in data collection and strategy sharing, as well as data analysis. He encouraged further development of substantive software and other tools specifically conceived for national and international control of organized crime. Acknowledging the seriousness and nature of the problem, he said that no one country acting alone could address it. Cooperation at the regional and subregional levels was important. Bilateral and multilateral agreements provided a comprehensive legal framework for cooperation, and successful counter-activities could increase capacities to effectively respond to those international threats. His country had undertaken important legislative, judicial and structural reforms in that regard, and it attached the utmost importance to bilateral and regional cooperation in combating those global peace and security threats, crucial to which was information exchange and promotion of good practices. He also fully supported the efforts of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UNODC and other relevant United Nations organs in facing the numerous security risks emanating from drug trafficking.
U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said that drug trafficking remained an endemic and lucrative organized transnational crime, and thus a major threat to global peace and security. No country was totally immune to its consequences, and none could fight alone and win the war against illicit drugs. In Africa, illicit drug trafficking, cultivation, processing and abuse were “unrelentingly on the rise”, inevitably hampering the continent’s development efforts. International drug cartels from other regions around the world continued to exploit the under-resourced law enforcement capability of most African countries, turning them into major transit points for illicit drugs and weapons.
West Africa was the subregion most affected by the scourge, and it was fast becoming a major warehouse and transit point for cocaine and other illicit drugs. She said the activities of drug cartels continued to threaten West Africa’s fledgling democratic structures, as well as good governance and the rule of law. In addition, drug trafficking had sparked an increase in violent crimes, the spread of small arms, corruption, money laundering, economic instability and human trafficking.
She said that tackling such challenges should not be left to one country or one region alone. It required coordinated, comprehensive and effective global cooperation. Such an approach obliged not only the Security Council, but the wider international community to take into account the larger question of drug supply and demand control channels. “If we adopt a supply control approach, it will facilitate the investigation, arrest and prosecution of drug traffickers,” she said. The international community already had the legal instruments and tools to make crime unattractive and unprofitable. What was needed now was the mobilization of the requisite political will and resources to win the war against organized transnational criminals.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said the serious threat posed by drug trafficking “is real and it is global”. The United Kingdom along with all other Member States had a responsibility to support work which reduced both the demand for and the supply of illegal drugs, which were doing so much harm to families, communities and societies. But, the scale of the challenge meant that the international community must mount a coordinated response, and the UNODC was playing a vital role in that regard. He particularly highlighted that agency’s efforts in Afghanistan, which had helped bring about a reduction in poppy cultivation in 2009.
While that positive outcome was proof that coordinated international and regional action to counter the threat against drug trafficking was possible, it also revealed that there was no room for complacency. He reminded the Council that the threat posed by drug trafficking was one part of the broader challenge caused by organized crime. As such, the United Kingdom deplored the growing number of kidnappings and hostage-takings aimed at raising funds or gaining political advantage, whether in Africa, South Asia or Latin America. Last year, the Economic and Social Council had called for all Member States to deny the benefits of substantive concessions, and he called on all Member States to heed the call not to pay ransom and deny criminals that vital source of funding and political leverage.
“We also need to see stronger national and international action on the scourge of corruption,” he said, urging all States parties to the United Nations anti-corruption convention to work together to ensure that the review mechanism agreed in Doha last year is as effective as possible. Finally, he said it was clear from today’s discussions that criminals and terrorists undermined stability, security and democratic institutions, especially in fragile parts of the world. Countries and regions where the rule of law was weak and where there were underdeveloped criminal justice systems were particularly vulnerable to transnational threats. That fact underlined the importance of coordinated international engagement, often with a strong peacebuilding focus, to help build capacity in regions and countries most at risk. Time and again, as the Council examined cases of recurring conflict, it saw that weak judicial systems and lack of effective policing capacity were a big part of the problem. He said that all those were sensitive issues that would not be easy for any Government. But, if transnational criminals were agile and inventive, so must be the response of the international community.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the money reaped from drug trafficking and efforts at financing them had enabled organized crime groups and networks to become more diversified and connected. He noted with concern the increased strong linkage between drug trafficking and organized crime, such as in arms smuggling and money laundering. That was particularly noticeable in States embroiled in conflict or struggling through fragile post-conflict situations. Via drugs and trade in small arms, non-State criminal groups were able to corrupt State institutions or finance terrorism, as conflict or fragile situations were prolonged, in turn, preventing sound governance or establishment of the rule of law, as well as sustainable development. The illicit traffickers established dependable trading routes, as institutions were further weakened. Organized crime easily crossed borders in neighbouring countries and transited through regions.
He said it was essential to supplement national and regional efforts to staunch the phenomenon with international cooperation. He asked the UNODC Executive Director to provide additional information on the role of the Security Council. He understood the usefulness of today’s briefing, including in raising awareness of the consequences of the threats and in mobilizing political will, but how could the Council best reflect the Director’s analysis and assessment in its work? On information sharing, he agreed that regional networks should be encouraged to exchange information in problem areas, but what concrete actions could be taken to promote timely and better information sharing in more diverse areas? he asked. He stressed the importance of suppressing the drug trade and transnational organized crime, including for promoting the human security of the individual, for which he sought a mobilization of international efforts.
SUSAN RICE (United States) said that, not so long ago, the topic might not have made it on the Council’s agenda, but the terrible consequences that followed in the wake of such large-scale crime and corruption were precisely the kind of threats that the Council must confront. The phenomenon presented an extraordinary array of global challenges, which no more stopped at national borders than a gale force wind stopped from house to house. A transnational security threat, by definition, could not be tackled by any one country alone. The work done together in the Security Council to shore up fragile States and build their capacity to provide for their people was essential to fighting twenty-first century threats. States wracked by poverty and conflict often sought to extend the rule of law and provide for their populations’ basic needs. They were more vulnerable to criminal networks, which only strengthened transnational predators and undermined global security for all.
She said “where development falters, security suffers”. That was particularly clear in the scourge of illegal narcotics, magnified by conflict, chaos, poverty and instability, and it magnified all those ills in return. That vicious cycle was the situation in too many States. All too often, States lacking the capacity to provide basic services for their citizens also lacked the strength to fend off “vultures of crime”. That undermined the rule of law, overloaded prisons, wasted lives and destroyed public health systems, paving the road back towards poverty, chaos and conflict. That misery and desperation threatened the security of all nations. The direct economic costs were bad enough; transnational organized crime and corruption might siphon off as much as 15 per cent of the world gross domestic product. And the security cost of that dangerous form of organized crime might be even more grave -- drug trafficking had increasingly well-documented links with terrorists and insurgents, which further endangered political security and economic development, as those non-State actors slipped across borders, forging documents and smuggling weapons.
Continuing, she said that terrorist groups were also turning to organized crime activities to extend their reach and finance their activities. The growing interdependence among terrorist groups and organized crime made it much more difficult to staunch the flow of terrorist financing. As terrorists mimicked the tactics of organized crime, international crime fighters must use the tools of law enforcement. The United States was working with partners to identify criminal linkages wherever they existed and to strengthen law enforcement before linkages were forged. International law enforcement cooperation -- created by global accords and the three United Nations conventions -- was the spine of the multilateral framework to protect against those linked threats. It would not be easy to meet those challenges. In light of the Internet, new technologies and rising trade, such criminal activities were hard to trace in regions struggling with deep poverty or recovering from conflict. The tools of the conventions could help to short circuit the destabilizing effects of organized crime.
The United States was working to tackle the challenges, she said. From 2008 to 2009, it had provided $36 million to UNODC activities, and for 2010, was allocating approximately $2 billion for high-priority programmes to support several objectives. Among those were to: institute the rule of law by developing the criminal justice systems in partner countries, developing law enforcement and advancing respect for human rights; disrupt overseas trafficking and production; and minimize harm through enhanced international cooperation and foreign assistance. Related to the problems at hand was the appalling problem of human trafficking, an important Protocol of the Palermo Convention. In times of economic turmoil, people desperate for work were especially vulnerably. Action must be global and firm to implement anti-trafficking laws and ensure that those helped the victims. The phenomenon was a modern form of slavery; the suffering was vast and the victims should not have to wait.
In closing, she drew attention to the nexus between development and global security, saying that drug trafficking and other transnational threats gravely undermined post-conflict States. When States suffered, so did their neighbours. Regions were often breeding grounds for drug traffickers and terrorists, which, in turn, undermined reconstruction activities and threatened security in regions and around the world. The Security Council should consider how best to develop judicial and law enforcement capacities when developing mandates to address threats to international peace and stability. “A threat to development anywhere could soon be a threat to security everywhere.” She was pleased to support the presidential statement to be adopted today.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said her delegation shared the concerns of all those that had spoken thus far today about the impact of drug trafficking and organized crime. Such activities were particularly serious in situations of armed conflict, or in countries emerging from conflict. The Council might, therefore, find itself faced with situations where the fallout from organized criminal activity could prompt or exacerbate threats to international peace and security. In such cases, the 15-nation body must be prepared to act swiftly and take effective measures, within the scope of its mandate under the Charter.
Drug trafficking was an issue that, by its very nature, required integrated and multidimensional action at all levels. Because the trade in illegal drugs and the other heinous criminal activities that surrounded it most often took advantage of legal loopholes and weak State institutions, she cited capacity-building in law enforcement as particularly relevant. Indeed, strong state institutions and well trained personnel were vital to the global combat against the spread of illicit drugs and the traffickers themselves.
Brazil was concerned with the situation in West Africa, which was being increasingly preyed upon by drug cartels. She praised the work of ECOWAS, as well as the West Africa Coast Initiative, which would bolster information-sharing among States in the subregion. She went on to say that repressive measures alone would not be enough to fight drug trafficking in an effective and sustainable manner. Initiatives designed by the international community must encompass actions aimed at addressing the root causes of criminal activity, including by creating alternative livelihoods, especially to prevent youths from being lured into the drug business.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria) said that transnational crime was globalizing more rapidly than the international legal means to combat it. Only by acting in concert could the international community prevail in the fight against all forms of organized crime, including human trafficking, migrant smuggling and money laundering. “We must help States develop their own capacities, to rebuild and strengthen their institutions to administer justice and ensure the rule of law [and] to provide security,” he said, adding that the Council should take such factors into account when it devised sustainable strategies for conflict areas. He commended the role of UNODC in assisting various stakeholders in coordinating their efforts in the field and beyond, ensuring continuous delivery of technical assistance, including advisory, legal and analytical services.
He said that universal adherence to, and accurate implementation of, pertinent international legal instruments such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the United Nations drug conventions and relevant international treaties and protocols related to terrorism, should be the international community’s common goal. Attention should be paid to human rights norms and due process in such implementation. In addition, those instruments must be constantly improved to keep pace with the changing nature of international crimes.
Having agreed on a mechanism to monitor the anti-corruption Convention, the international community must now focus on a strong and effective review mechanism for the Convention against Transnational Crime, he added. Drawing the Council’s attention to the upcoming establishment of the International Anti-corruption Academy in Laxenburg, Austria, he said that body would aim to promote anti-corruption measures through academic research and professional academic training.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France), speaking in his national capacity, said today’s topic was not at the heart of the Council’s mandate; it was dealt with comprehensively by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. He welcomed the Assembly’s initiative to organize in the next quarter, in the framework of Palermo, a special high-level meeting devoted to organized transnational crime. Nonetheless, widespread development of those cross-cutting problems played an ever greater role in State security and regional and international stability. The Council had observed that with many items on its agenda, including in West Africa, Haiti and Afghanistan. When the consequences of those criminal networks threatened international peace and security, the Council must deal with the issues. Those threats destabilized or weakened States, harming their good governance and slowing their economic development. They competed with legal systems and promoted corruption.
He said those threats hampered reconstruction efforts led by national authorities and the international community. The criminal network not only benefited from that assistance, but their activities exacerbated political tensions. The links between drug trafficking and international terrorism were also increasing and destabilizing entire regions, thus requiring close global and regional cooperation, with a view to strengthening, via technical assistance, the capacity of weaker States. The international community had become aware of the importance now attributed to organized crime, adopting in 2000 a convention against it. But, since then, criminal networks had learned to adapt to changes in societies, whether through progress in information technologies, or the loosening of financial markets. As a result, more than ever, the universalization of the Palermo Convention and its additional protocol was required. The upcoming conference of States parties would go a long way towards that goal.
UNODC’s important role was welcome, and he encouraged the United Nations Secretariat to strengthen its action in the area of cross-cutting threats, namely through networking efforts with the Departments of Political Affairs and Peacekeeping and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close cooperation with UNODC. In the Council, cross-cutting threats should be taken into account when considering conflict prevention and peacekeeping missions. He supported regional initiatives on drug trafficking, including the programme adopted in 2008 by West African States and in 2009 by the Caribbean region. The Paris-Moscow process sought to implement operational cooperation in the fight against heroin trafficking from Afghanistan and ensure true awareness of the problem of precursors. Drug trafficking networks and organized crime had taken on a global dimension, and through their nature, endangered international peace and security, with direct consequences on the Council’s work. Regular briefings by UNODC would keep the Council abreast of the situation.
Taking the floor in respond to the debate, Mr. COSTA addressed the questions raised by the Japanese delegate, saying first that the Council’s engagement in promoting security worldwide was what was needed to reduce areas of conflict and instability, which resulted in insecurity. As a consequence, the Council’s own general work was the most important antidote. As far as UNODC was concerned, in 2004, it had started alerting the Council and Member States of the threat posed by drug trafficking in Africa from across the Atlantic. The Council had listened to UNODC reporting, which had facilitated better understanding of the role of law enforcement in peacebuilding, integrated missions, as well as in the use of some early warning. The third and most important role the Council could play was through the work of individual Member States. Around the table were some major economic and military Powers, and work was being done bilaterally, including through the provision of resources to UNODC, which was another vital contribution.
Also referring to a query by the Japanese delegate about what was meant by information sharing in this context, Mr. Costa said that regional efforts were ongoing, but a change in attitude was needed. “Trust they neighbour”, at least in terms of a willingness to share intelligence information. He highlighted the two important seizures in West Africa last week, which had been the result of transatlantic intelligence sharing. It was crucial to build on that. It would be wrong to assume that the two West African countries could have seized those tons of cocaine on their own. Mali, for example, had more than 700,000 kilometres of borders. Unless those countries were assisted through various new technologies -- perhaps with virtual border control through satellites and radio stations -- there would be some “ugly surprises”.
Law enforcement had been unable to keep up with the globalization of crime, he added. There were sinister forces on the market, so control needed to be regained by sharing sovereignty. Legal frameworks were in place; those should be viewed in a systematic way. Council members were advising that the set of instruments be integrated into the work of the United Nations. Perhaps the Secretary-General could spearhead that integration much as he did by mainstreaming human rights “within the logic” of the United Nations. Issues of drug trafficking had links to work being done, for instance, by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The trilogy between development, security and justice was crucial, because it was the absence of development or security that created the context so helpful to organized crime. There were pockets of progress, as UNODC’s latest report indicated, but there was no room for complacency.
The Council President then read out the presidential statement (document S/PRST/2010/4).
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