United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Tenth session (Vienna, Austria, 10-17 April 2000) 

This meeting with the theme " Crime and justice, meeting the challenges of the 21st century" assembled hundreds of high-level representatives of Governments, academia, non-governmental organizations, and media.

The Congress discussed:

  • How to promote the rule of law and to strengthen the criminal justice system
  • International cooperation in combatting transnational organized crime: new challenges in the twenty-first century
  • Effective crime prevention: keeping pace with the new developments
  • Offenders and victims: accountability and fairness in the justice process

In addition, four workshops were held on combatting corruption, crimes related to the computer network, community involvement in crime prevention, and women in the criminal justice system.
The Congress adopted a declaration embodying the conclusions and recommendations of Member States and setting out an international agenda in crime prevention and criminal justice at the beginning of the new millennium. The declaration captures the essence of the work carried out over many years and set out specific key commitments for the future that should reflect a vision for the future work of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme and of national governments.


'Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century'

With their sights aimed squarely at the worst forms of transnational organized crime, delegates from 119 countries, including 76 Ministers and other high-level officials, meeting in Vienna, decided to take more effective concerted action to combat the world crime problem.

At a high-level segment of the Tenth UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, they adopted by acclamation a "Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice", in which they pledge to take resolute and speedy measures to combat terrorism, trafficking in human beings, illicit trade in firearms, smuggling of migrants and the estimated $600 billion money laundering business. The Congress took place from 10 to 17 April, followed by a three-day meeting of the 40-member Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

The Declaration further commits States to take enhanced international action against corruption, building on existing UN norms. It also stresses the need for an effective international legal instrument, independent of a UN convention against transnational organized crime, which is nearing completion. The convention will be accompanied by optional protocols directed against illicit trafficking in persons, migrants and arms.

In the text, the delegates recognize the "promise of restorative approaches to justice that aim to reduce crime and promote the healing of victims, offenders and communities". They also stress the need for action-oriented policy based on the special needs of women as criminal justice personnel, victims, offenders and prisoners.

Considerable attention was paid to the need to address the rising tide of computer-related crime and crime resulting from xenophobia and ethnic hatred.

The Commission endorsed the Declaration and will send it to the Millennium General Assembly this fall, via the Economic and Social Council. The Assembly will then consider adopting the text and taking appropriate follow-up measures.