Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director


Remarks at the opening of the 24th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

18 May 2015

Distinguished participants,

It is just a month since Ministers and other high-level officials from one hundred and forty countries met in Doha at the 13th Congress, to agree an action-oriented declaration to strengthen collective efforts on crime prevention and criminal justice, promote the rule of law and contribute to sustainable development.

Now here in Vienna at the Commission, the hard work continues.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again offer my warmest thanks to the Government of Qatar for the dedication and hospitality that made the Congress an outstanding success.

In Doha, we marked 60 years of the Congresses on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

We understood the importance of the 13th Congress taking place during the 70th anniversary of our United Nations, and as the international community defines the post-2015 development agenda.

The Declaration adopted in Doha reaffirmed the "shared commitment to uphold the rule of law and to prevent and counter crime in all its forms and manifestations".

The Declaration highlighted the importance of public participation in crime prevention and criminal justice, to make States' efforts more effective and increase public trust.

States further acknowledged that sustainable development and the rule of law are closely interrelated and mutually reinforcing.

Now here in Vienna, this session of the Commission can serve as a milestone as we endeavour to fulfil the commitments made in the Doha Declaration, and contribute to a truly transformative post-2015 development agenda.

Since the Congress, UNODC has been engaged in productive discussions with Member States to ensure effective support for the international community to implement the provisions of the Doha Declaration, which addresses key challenges including trafficking in persons, firearms and illicit drugs, as well as wildlife crime, corruption and illicit financial flows, and further calls on countries to make more effective use of the conventions against transnational organized crime and corruption, the drug control conventions and the universal legal instruments against terrorism.

We have also been working to highlight the role of data on crime, criminal justice and the rule of law.

I am pleased to note that the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes was endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission, which can help to support implementation of the Declaration and post-2015 development agenda.

The thematic discussion of this session is devoted to the follow up to the Congress. A resolution for adoption by the General Assembly on this topic is also before you.

I very much look forward to the outcomes of your deliberations, and I assure you of UNODC's full support.

The Commission will consider other important resolutions, including a resolution on gender-related killings of women and girls, the most extreme manifestation of widespread violence against women.

A resolution on the revision of the Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners duly draws the attention of the Commission to prisons as an often neglected link in the criminal justice chain.

Secure and humanely managed prisons are essential to preventing recidivism and criminal "contamination", including radicalization.

Another resolution focuses on technical assistance in countering terrorism.

UNODC remains committed to further enhancing our support to States in ratifying and implementing the nineteen universal legal instruments against terrorism.

This includes strengthening the capacity of national criminal justice systems to effectively implement these instruments with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.

This work is more important than ever, as the international community has become increasingly concerned about the challenges of confronting threats such as the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and the use of kidnapping for ransom and as a political tool; countering violent extremism; and addressing the intensifying links between terrorists and organized crime networks, including terrorist financing.

We will be holding a side event on strengthening criminal justice responses to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters later today, and I encourage you to come.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we met in Doha, we were horrified by news of hundreds of migrants dying when their boats sank in the Mediterranean - the latest reports of a tragedy seemingly without end.

Since then thousands more migrants and refugees have died all over the world, on treacherous journeys to reach their destinations, often at the hands of criminal smuggling groups.

We cannot let this situation continue.

We will be meeting later today at a side event on the Italian experience with protecting migrants at sea and addressing migrant smuggling.

This experience has shown how the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol against migrant smuggling can be effective in promoting international cooperation against the organized criminals behind this terrible crime. I hope you will join us.

The international community is engaged in high-level discussions to urgently address the situation.

Know that UNODC supports you in these endeavours, through our integrated, inter-regional approaches to confront transnational organized crime, including a strategy to address migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean.

Migrant smuggling is a crime that cuts across borders and that is intimately linked with peace and security, human rights and development - all three pillars of the United Nations.

Our policies must be coherent, and our responses integrated and inclusive, uniting countries of origin, transit and destination, based on the principle of shared responsibility.

I hope this session of the Commission will help to strengthen collective action to address this and other challenges.

I wish you productive deliberations. Thank you.