Secretary-General’s remarks at 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice [as delivered]
Doha, Qatar, 12 April 2015
As Salaam Alaikum. Good morning.
I am pleased and honoured to address this thirteenth UN Crime Congress -- the world’s largest and most diverse gathering of governments, civil society, academia and experts in crime prevention and criminal justice.
For 60 years, these congresses have helped shape criminal justice policies and strengthen international cooperation against the global threat of transnational organized crime.
I warmly thank our hosts, the Government of Qatar, for welcoming us and hosting this very important meeting here.
In Arabic, Doha means “big tree”.
The city has grown with ambition and energy, like a spirited sapling, into the modern metropolis we see today.
But our job here is not to admire big trees only, but to examine what we find in the undergrowth.
Like a pernicious weed, the roots of crime are everywhere, threatening to choke the weak and vulnerable.
Around the world, crime is devastating individuals, communities and our nations.
Many thousands of people are killed by drug-related violence and terrorism each year.
More than 40,000 women are murdered by their intimate partners.
Hundreds of thousands of women and young girls are coerced by human traffickers into lives of bonded labour, sexual slavery and immense suffering.
Wildlife is also under severe threat. In South Africa last year, more than 1,200 rhinos were slaughtered by poachers.
All for the profit of criminals.
Crime feeds on corruption and obstructs good governance.
It undermines institutions and the rule of law.
Crime threatens peace and security, hinders development and violates human rights.
This year is pivotal for these three pillars of the United Nations.
This September, Member States will consider a post-2015 development agenda that can pave the way to a better future for billions of people.
Success requires that the new agenda and sustainable development goals reflect the centrality of the rule of law.
What chance does a young girl have if badly needed resources for health and education are stolen by corruption?
How can her mother prosper when she is subject to violence at home?
How can a young man make his way in the world when his neighbourhood is controlled by gangs?
How can people thrive when the police and the courts are used as instruments of repression?
Development and human rights depend on legal frameworks that promote equality and on governance that upholds those laws.
All societies need fair criminal justice systems, effective, accountable institutions, and access to justice for all.
Accountable security services can go a long way toward ending cycles of violence.
Strengthening legal rights helps to address inequalities.
There can be no sustainable development without human rights and the rule of law.
You have come to Doha to share your successes, your challenges and your experience in preventing crime and promoting the rule of law to support sustainable development.
International cooperation and coordination are critical, particularly in areas such as combatting transnational organized crime and terrorism.
I encourage every country to ratify and implement the conventions against drugs, crime and corruption, and the international instruments against terrorism, and to support the important and varied work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
We must also adapt to changing times.
Cybercrime has now become a business which exceeds billions of dollars a year in online fraud, identity theft and lost intellectual property.
It affects millions of people around the world, as well as businesses and Governments.
We must address the growing links between organised crime and terrorism.
Like never before, terrorists and criminals around the world are coming together and feeding off each other.
They are funding terror through criminal networks and growing rich through the suffering of entire populations.
We must take a comprehensive approach to address extremism, trafficking, money laundering, corruption and a range of related issues.
There will always be crime and there will always be extremists.
But we must work to stop crime and extremism being seen as attractive or necessary options – especially by youth.
That is why we are focused on equitable, sustainable development.
It is why the United Nations supports rule of law assistance and security sector reform in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
It is why the United Nations is developing a Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism.
The General Assembly President, who is here, and myself, in close coordination with the Alliance of Civilization, are going to convene a High-Level UN General Assembly thematic debate on how we can counter this increasing violent extremism, terrorism, on how we can ask our world leaders, our community leaders and religious leaders to teach their followers, to teach their students, what is the correct meaning of understanding and respect for others’ faith and belief, and what is the meaning of tolerance and mutual understanding. I hope many of you senior level leaders and Governments’ leaders will participate in this very important meeting.
We also have the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as other relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
I urge nations and partners to strongly support the implementation of these instruments.
Our duty to the citizens of the world is to act today to prevent funds from being used to deliver tomorrow’s death and destruction.
We are opening a new chapter in human history.
Ever more people are escaping the clutches of poverty.
The sustainable development agenda can accelerate this process, reduce inequalities, promote human rights and make our world a better place for all.
I count on the 13th Crime Congress to add its experienced voice to some of the most important parts of this agenda.
Our goal is for the world to say with one clear voice, “today was safer and more equitable than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today.”
If we deliver on our promise, if we can build a world of justice and equality, we will have been part of an extraordinary achievement for billions of people.
I thank you and wish you every success in your deliberations over the course of this immensely important Congress.
Let us work together to make this world better where nobody is left behind and everybody’s dignity will be respected and promoted.