Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Organized transnational crime is one of the main threats to public safety and represents an obstacle for the social, political and economic development of societies worldwide. It is a multi-faceted phenomenon that manifests itself through different types of crime, such as drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, migrants smuggling, arms trafficking and money laundering, among others.

Organized crime has been influenced by globalization, which has caused deep transformations in the lives of people, societies and States. The borders between countries today are more flexible and transit of people, merchandises, services and resources is increasingly agile. This process, which facilitates commerce and integration between peoples, also brings radical changes in the dynamics of crime and violence. After all, the technologies that enable substantial improvements in people's lives are also used by those who circumvent laws, commit crimes and defy justice.


Therefore, the importance of international cooperation and experience interchange on criminal justice and crime prevention increases. A coordinated performance is fundamental to face, with more efficiency, criminal groups dispersed around the world, that many times possess high communication and organization capacity.

Seeking coherent and efficient responses to these problems, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has worked in close cooperation with governments and international and civil society organizations towards fortifying institutional structures and the rule of law for an effective control over organized crime and drug trafficking.

Based on the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, UNODC has assisted governments in the implementation of the Convention's articles and the establishment as criminal offences, in their national legislations, of conducts related to organized crime.

With the same motivation, UNODC has also supported the adoption of measures for mutual legal assistance, in order to facilitate extradition proceedings, police cooperation, technical assistance between countries and training for members of criminal justice systems.

Criminal Justice System Reform

The respect for human rights requires the construction of fair and efficient criminal justice systems, capable of controlling crime within the limits established by the rule of law. UNODC supports governments in developing strategies for the reform of all aspects of the criminal justice system, with special emphasis on assistance to the most vulnerable groups, especially women, young people and children.

UNODC also promotes projects on juvenile justice, criminal reform and support to victims and witnesses of crimes. These actions resulted in a wide range of manuals and evaluation instruments, compiled in the Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit, that cover all areas of the criminal justice system, based on international norms and standards defined by the United Nations.

UNODC develops projects and provides technical assistance on the following subjects:

* Juvenile justice
* Criminal reform
* Criminal justice reform
* Restorative justice
* Alternatives to imprisonment
* Victims support
* Gender-based violence
* Following criminal justice system's performance

The projects' activities in different countries include a series of interventions, such as:

* Training
* Consulting
* Legislative reform
* Supplying resources to non-governmental organizations
* Producing reports and manuals on best practices

Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is the main agency of the United Nations system for the formulation of policies and international recommendations on criminal justice questions, including trafficking in persons, transnational crimes and terrorism prevention aspects. It monitors the use and application of the United Nations norms concerning these matters and guides the formulation of policies to answer these new questions.

The Commission provides Member States with a forum for knowledge, experience and information exchange for the development of national and international strategies. The Commission also coordinates efforts with other UN agencies with a specific mandate in terms of crime prevention and criminal justice, such as the UN's Security Council, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Every five years, the Commission also coordinates the promotion of the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

More information on mandate, functions, members, reports and other documents on the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.