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UNIS/CP/470

4 March 2004

African Countries Prepare for World Crime Congress;
Call for Implementation of United Nations Treaties

VIENNA, 4 March (UN Information Service) -- The African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Eleventh Crime Congress concluded its work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Meeting was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).  It was the first of four regional preparatory meetings being organized for the World Congress that will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in April 2005.

Over 85 experts from Member States of the African region, as well as observers from other Member States, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, United Nations bodies, United Nations-affiliated and regional institutes, and non-governmental organizations met to discuss, from the African perspective, the issues to be considered at the Congress. They highlighted special problems and concerns, as well as successful experiences and promising approaches deserving wider application. 

On the issue of “Effective measures to combat transnational organized crime”, the Meeting stressed that an effective and universal implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols would ensure that no safe havens would remain for organized criminal groups and recommended that all States become parties to the Convention and the Protocols at the earliest opportunity. 

In particular, the Meeting identified the problem of trafficking in firearms as being highly lucrative and deeply rooted in the African region, and that poor communities, especially those living in countries in conflict or post-conflict situations and countries with economies in transition, are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and smuggling. The Meeting recommended an expanded programme of technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in order to enable them to properly implement the Convention and its Protocols, and that technical assistance activities be followed-up with a view to identify region-specific lessons learned and develop best practices. The Meeting also called for the development and implementation of technical assistance programmes for the strengthening of the rule of law and the establishment of relevant institutions. It welcomed the Cairo Declaration on the Protection of Cultural Property adopted by the Conference on the Protection of Cultural Property held in Cairo from 14 to 16 February 2004, which was considered especially timely in view of the increase of the involvement of organized criminal groups in the theft and trafficking of cultural property.  It also recommended that the Eleventh Congress devote particular attention to this matter.

The Meeting also addressed a variety of other themes including: “International cooperation against terrorism and links between terrorism and other criminal activities in the context of the work of the UNODC”. Other topics were  “Making standards work: fifty years of standard-setting in crime prevention and criminal justice” and “Corruption: threats and trends in the twenty-first century.”

A delegation from Thailand, the host country of the Eleventh UN Crime Congress (Bangkok, 18-25 April 2005), attended the African meeting, with an exhibition and promotional activities being put in place for the Congress.  The delegation underlined the commitment of the Thai Government to fighting crime in all its forms and extended an invitation to all members of the United Nations to be part of the success of the Eleventh Congress. 

The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice acts as the preparatory body for the Congress.  The report of the African Regional Preparatory Meeting will be submitted for consideration and action by the Commission at its thirteenth session, to be held in Vienna from 11 to 20 May 2004.

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