Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/196 entitled “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity”, the President of the General Assembly will convene a High-level Debate on Urban Safety, Security and Good Governance: Making Crime Prevention a Priority for All on Thursday, 22 April 2021, at 10:00 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters.

This one-day high-level debate will consist of an opening session and a general debate in the morning, followed by an interactive panel discussion and a closing segment. In accordance with the resolution 75/196, a summary of the discussion will be prepared for transmission to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and to all Member States.

Individual cities face increasingly acute security challenges as a result of local vulnerabilities heightened by the activities of criminal gangs and groups, including transnational organized crime groups, that pursue their illegal economic operations, including drug trafficking and other crimes. Organised crime often preys on communities that are vulnerable, disadvantaged and fractured. States are affected by the destabilising effects of these criminal groups and the associated challenges including, but not limited to corruption, money-laundering, illicit trafficking of goods, and terrorism. These phenomena undermine good governance and the rule of law and directly affect the security of citizens. Considering that more than half of the global population now lives in urban areas, and that by 2050 that share will rise to two thirds, understanding the impact of crime at the city level is becoming more important than ever.

Building on a range of existing promising practices in the field of crime prevention and urban safety, as well as drawing from the inputs of academic and civil society experts, and case studies from a number of cities across the world, this high-level debate will provide an opportunity to exchange views about the need to, and ways in which to, prioritise safety and security in cities, taking into account how organised crime and transnational organized crime exploit and exacerbate local vulnerabilities. Participants will hear examples about how national governments and city administrations can identify crime risks and vulnerabilities, and ensure that safety and security policies are tailored to meet local needs, including by involving communities.


10:00 -10:30 am
Opening Segment

• Remarks by H.E. Volkan Bozkir, the President of the General Assembly
• Message of H.E. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (delivered by the Executive Director of the UNODC on his behalf)
• Remarks by Ms. Ghada Fathi Waly, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

10:30 am-1:00 pm
General Debate

The general debate will be an opportunity for, ministerial and other high-level participants to share their States’ achievements and efforts to accelerate progress towards reduction of urban crime.  

3:00-4:50 pm
Interactive Panel Discussion: Addressing risks and challenges to city safety, security and good governance: the role of innovative practices and crime prevention strategies in building resilience in the urban environment 

The Panel will address risks and challenges city safety, security and good governance face as a result of the impacts of crime, including transnational organized crime. It will discuss how improving resilience and putting safety and security on the local and global agenda can help to fight this phenomenon. Innovative practices, multi-stakeholder responses and proactive strategies to prevent crime in the urban environment will also be presented during the Panel.

Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of Policy Affairs of the UNODC

Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
Mr. Robert Muggah, Co-founder and Research and Innovation Director, Igarapé Institute
Ms. Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director of the European Forum for Urban Security
Mr. Thomas Abt, Director, National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (Washington, DC)
Mr. Daniel Quintero, Mayor of Medellin, Colombia
Mr. Achim Wennmann, Advisor to the Director – Strategic Development and Partnerships, Senior Researcher at the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (Geneva)

4:50-5:00 pm

Closing remarks by the President of the General Assembly