The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the leading international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime.
The Convention was created to promote cooperation to prevent and combat transnational organized crime more effectively. It does not define "transnational organized crime", but it does define the term "organized criminal group" and obliges parties to criminalize specific types of conduct.
What is an organized criminal group?
Article 2 (a) of the Convention defines an organized criminal group as a structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with the Convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.
What is serious crime?
The Convention also defines a "serious crime", which is a conduct constituting an offence with a possible maximum punishment of at least four years of imprisonment, or a more serious penalty.
The word "transnational" is used because criminal activities are not restricted to national borders. According to the Organized Crime Convention, transnational means any of the following:
Parties to the Organized Crime Convention are obliged to establish domestic criminal offences for participation in an organized criminal group, laundering of proceeds of crime, corruption and obstruction of justice. Parties are to adopt measures to enable the confiscation of proceeds of crime and property related to these offences. Parties also commit themselves to adopting new and comprehensive frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance and law enforcement cooperation, and to promote training and technical assistance.
The Organized Crime Convention has three supplemental protocols that include additional provisions that are relevant for these types of crimes:
The objective of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is to improve the capacity of States parties to combat transnational organized crime and to promote and review the implementation of the Organized Crime Convention.
Article 32 (3) of the Convention provides examples of mechanisms that can be used by the Conference to reach its objectives, including:
The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the most comprehensive body dealing with transnational organized crime within the United Nations.
One of the most distinct features of the Conference is the existence of the working groups that have been established to deal with specific issues relating to the Convention or its protocols. For instance, the working groups dedicated to the protocols of the Convention have been very active in promoting the ratification and implementation of those instruments.
Attendees at the Conference are made up of participants and observers. Their status is governed by the Rules of Procedure for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime .
Aside from the States parties, which are the actual participants, a number of observers attend the conference including:
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime acts as the secretariat of the Conference.
The States parties are those that have ratified or acceded to the Organized Crime Convention, which includes most Member States.
Rule 12 of the rules of procedure for the Conference states that "each State Party participating in a session shall be represented by one representative, who may be accompanied by alternate representatives and advisers as the State Party may require".
A full list of States parties to the Convention and its Protocols can be found here.
The Conference of the Parties may be attended by States that are not States parties to the Organized Crime Convention. However, these States do not have the same rights as the States parties.
States that have signed the Organized Crime Convention but have not ratified it have the following rights, under rule 14 of the Rules of Procedure for the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime:
States that have neither signed nor ratified or acceded to the Organized Crime Convention may also take part, but with limited rights. According to rule 15 of the rules of procedure, they can do the following:
A list of possible observer States can be found here.
Non-governmental organizations with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and those without such status can apply to be observers, in accordance with rule 17 of the rules of procedure for the Conference.
They cannot take part in the adoption of decisions on substantive and procedural matters, but can attend the plenary meetings, make oral statements, provide written reports and receive documentation.
The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime has the following outcome documents:
The work of the Conference is also governed by the rules of procedure for the Conference.
At the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Conference Support Section of the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch is the secretariat and the focal point for the Conference. Coordinating with other parts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Section provides substantive and technical support to the Conference prior to, during and after its sessions.
The structure of the work of the Conference is outlined as follows: