UNODC and Italy discuss crime and drug prevention
07 June 2011 - UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov met with several senior Italian officials to discuss a range of drug- and crime-related matters, including migrant smuggling into Southern Europe in light of recent and ongoing events in North Africa.
Meeting the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr. Franco Frattini, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Angelino Alfano, and the Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of the Interior, Mr. Alfredo Mantovano, the Executive Director noted that the discussions were of critical importance to regional safety and security. Mr. Fedotov also held discussions on drug demand reduction and treatment and prevention of drug abuse with Senator Carlo Giovanardi and Mr. Giovanni Serpelloni, Director of the Department for Anti-Drug Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Italy has a long-standing commitment to countering international crime and a long-established relationship with UNODC. It has been one of the main donors to UNODC and has contributed more than $110 million over the past 10 years. In December 2000, the Government of Italy hosted the High-level Political Signing Conference for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto, which represented a historic milestone. A decade later, the Convention - commonly referred to as the "Palermo Convention" - is considered the world's foremost tool in tackling cross-border crime.
"The Palermo Convention and its Protocols are the most important legal tools in today's global fight against organized crime. They are the sole universal instruments that we have to counter transnational crime, trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants and to work against the movement of illicit firearms", said Mr. Fedotov.
The meetings also covered current developments in North Africa: the Executive Director noted that UNODC is working closely with other agencies within the United Nations system to define responses to the changes in that subregion and to ensure that issues concerning criminal justice and security sector reforms are addressed.
The issue of transatlantic trafficking in cocaine was also covered in the light of a ministerial meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) held in May 2011 to address that topic. Mr. Fedotov praised the adoption at that meeting of a political declaration and action plan, which recognizes the role played by the international drug control conventions and UNODC. The Executive Director also hailed the establishment of an anti-cocaine trust fund, which is to be financed by confiscated proceeds, as "progressive" and noted that "by using drug money to fight this scourge, it sends a clear message to criminals that this will not be tolerated."
Lastly, the issue of counter-piracy work and maritime security was discussed. Italy was recently appointed Chair of an ad hoc group on illicit financial flows linked to piracy, which was established by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and has contributed to the UNODC Trust Fund to Support the Initiatives of States to Counter Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in support of the Puntland prison construction project and the building of prosecutorial support in the area.