Director General/Executive Director
17 October 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Since the last session, the international community has repeatedly recognized that the Convention and its three protocols on human trafficking, migrant smuggling and firearms are more relevant than ever to address urgent global challenges.
The New York Declaration from the September Summit for Refugees and Migrants, the outcome document of the April UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem, and the Doha Declaration from the Thirteenth Crime Congress all urge Member States to make more effective use of the Convention.
The 2030 Agenda has made clear that combating organized crime in all its manifestations, as well as promoting justice and the rule of law, are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The negative impact that transnational organized crime has on health, livelihoods and the environment, on the fitness of institutions, governance and the rule of law, is indisputable.
Targets under many of the SDGs address human trafficking and forced labour, drug and wildlife trafficking, and illicit financial and arms flows, as well as the recovery and return of stolen assets.
With one hundred and eighty-seven States parties, and with similarly high levels of ratification for the protocols, the Convention represents an essential and near-universal framework to address these challenges and thereby support peace, security, safety and development.
Most of all, the Convention enables and enhances the cooperation, formal and informal, within and between regions, needed to confront transnational organized crime.
This includes formal judicial cooperation, such as extradition and mutual legal assistance, as well as other types of cooperation including law enforcement cooperation, joint investigative teams, use of special investigative techniques, as well as protection of witnesses.
To support this, UNODC is engaged in fostering networks of law enforcement bodies, central authorities and prosecutors, promoting tools to enhance information sharing, including the UNODC Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer, and strengthening direct contacts.
We are helping to network international and regional law enforcement centres and organizations, and enabling information exchange through the SHERLOC knowledge management portal.
At the same time, through our country, regional, inter-regional and global programmes, UNODC continues to highlight the value of the Convention and its protocols in addressing new and emerging crimes.
These include cybercrime, whether involving criminal use of the internet, cyber-enabled fraud or online exploitation and abuse of children; organ trafficking; environmental crime; and maritime crime, as well as trafficking in cultural property.
The international community has increasingly recognized the growing nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism as a major concern.
We will be holding a side event later today on strengthening criminal justice responses to terrorists benefitting from organized crime links, and I encourage you to attend.
Stronger implementation of the Convention and protocols can also contribute to improving responses to some of the gravest challenges facing the international community today, namely the continuing refugee and migration crises.
This was recognized in the New York Declaration, and is also reflected in the number of side events at this conference focusing on these urgent issues.
As I emphasized at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants, the protocols on human trafficking and migrant smuggling are needed to help to protect vulnerable women, men and children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation at the hands of criminals.
For justice to be truly for all, we need to make better use of the tools provided by the Convention and protocols, work together, share responsibility and acknowledge that we can and must do more to stop human suffering.
I hope all States will use this session to renew commitment, shore up gaps in implementation and continue a constructive dialogue on how this Conference can fulfil its mandate to improve capacities to combat all forms of transnational organized crime, and to promote and review implementation.
UNODC remains committed to supporting these efforts, and the Office looks to you to provide guidance and resources so that our technical assistance can be tailored as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Ambassador Saborío de Rocafort,
I wish you success in your deliberations during the busy week ahead.