Opening Statement at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
15 October 2012
Your Excellency President Türk,
Madam Minister Karl,
Distinguished Heads of delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized crime.
I would especially like to thank H.E. Mr. Danilo Türk, President of Slovenia, for coming to the opening of the Conference. I also extend my greetings to the distinguished Minister of Justice of our Host Country, Austria Beatrix Karl, and many other ministers and senior officials for their presence today.
As a guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, UNODC takes such high levels of representation as a clear sign of the prevailing political commitment to address this global challenge.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As UNODC's public service announcement has just shown, transnational organized crime is a billion dollar challenge of global proportions.
No country is immune, and no country can stand alone in defiance of this transnational threat.
Crime preys on weak countries where the rule of law, and other institutions are vulnerable to the criminals and their networks.
The victims are the women and children trafficked for sex, and men for slave labour; the local communities in developing countries devastated by illegal logging; and the families who have lost their loved ones to illicit drugs.
Indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are able to quantify the cost of global crime, it is US$870 billion, but we cannot calculate the misery and suffering caused to millions of people by these criminal activities.
The PSA, you've just seen, has outlined the diversity of crime; let me deliver UNODC's reply.
First, while the problems are often local, we need to build a global response.
Crime is a constant traveller. Successes against crime in one country can sometimes drive it elsewhere.
To prevent its perpetual displacement, we must make effective use of our shared strategic commitment to combat crime.
As part of this strategy, UNODC is building integrated regional programmes. We currently have five, with two more-in Southern Africa and South Asia-being developed.
Second, inter-agency partnerships within the UN family are also key, if we are to combine our individual strengths and to deliver as one.
Formed a year ago, the Secretary-General's Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking brings together UNODC, DPA, DPKO and UNDP, among others, to ensure an effective and multidisciplinary approach to crime.
Since 2011, the Task Force has held a Principals' level briefing to Member States in February 2012, as well as meetings of select task force members at the regional and country levels. We have also worked with DPA and UNDP to increase consultation between UNODC and UN Country Teams.
Third, our work is founded on the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols.
So far, 172 countries have ratified the convention. We are moving towards universal ratification, but we must move faster.
I encourage every country that has not ratified the Convention to do so.
The effective implementation of UNTOC is essential if fine words are to become firm action.
To do so, Member States need to be creative and proactive in the exchange of ideas and information on what is working in the global fight against drugs and crime.
We must take lessons learned and create practical policies.
I am glad to say this year's Conference of Parties offers a unique opportunity that can lay the groundwork for this crucial work.
You have come to Vienna to consider the adoption of a review mechanism for the UNTOC, which may be similar to that in place for the UN Convention against Corruption.
If adopted, countries that have ratified UNTOC will be reviewed in a cycle of every five years to assist in their fulfilment of their obligations under the Convention.
Country reports will help identify gaps in national laws and practices, as well as highlight successes and challenges when combating transnational organized crime.
The importance of this process cannot be underestimated. The global is tied to the local. They are interlocking and mutually reinforcing
We cannot succeed against transnational crime unless every nation is bound in cooperation through the Convention and the review process.
We need to create a finely woven net of national crime strategies that together form the bedrock for our global response to transnational organized crime.
The mechanism will allow us to understand where the holes in this global net exist and to work in the spirit of mutual cooperation to close them.
Civil society also has an indispensible role to play in solving the challenges of transnational organized crime.
Working together, we must make the criminals understand: there can be no sanctuaries, no safe havens, no shelters from which to operate.
Let me also say that I am aware of the issues surrounding the mechanism: funding and the participation of observers.
I understand that we are living in a time of austerity. But we must also remember that crime represents a tremendous threat to development, to the rule of law and to security.
This week we have an opportunity to begin a new process. One that can help to meet these challenges; we must seize it.
We cannot afford to fail the young people and the generations that follow. They must be our inspiration to act and to act now.
Our decisions this week are to be considered as an investment in a better future, free of crime and human suffering.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our collective goal must be to end the "era of displacement", which sees crime simply move elsewhere when challenged, and to begin a time of interconnected cooperation, coordination and communication against crime.
Where the criminals are smart, we must be smarter, where the criminals are sophisticated, we must be even more sophisticated and where crime transcends borders, so must our cooperation.
This means more joint operations, greater intelligence sharing and better witness protection and assistance to the victims of transnational organized crime.
The Sixth Session of the Conference of Parties represents an important step towards achieving these aims.
I hope that you will lend your full support.