Remarks at the 18th Annual Conference of the International Association of Prosecutors
Moscow, 9 September 2013
Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Chayka,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to address your meeting. I would also like to thank the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation for hosting this international forum.
UNODC and the International Association of Prosecutors have a long history of cooperation. We are currently working together to produce a reference tool highlighting international standards and best practices for prosecution services worldwide.
The theme of this year's conference, the prosecutor and the rule of law, is also timely and very relevant to the work of UNODC.
Promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels is indeed at the core of our mission at the United Nations and UNODC in particular.
Your work as prosecutors is essential to this outstanding mission.
Prosecutors have considerable powers, and with it great responsibility. You occupy a central position in the legal system and in criminal proceedings. The capacity of prosecutors to help uphold the rule of law thus has far-reaching consequences.
The UN General Assembly has acknowledged time and again that peace and security, development, human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.
The High Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda, which is advising the UN Secretary-General on advancing the global development framework, has emphasized in their recent report the need for "responsive and legitimate institutions" that encourage the rule of law and access to justice.
That is to say, strengthening the rule of law is a prerequisite for sustainable development and achieving the wider goals of the United Nations. And prosecutors play an important role in this process.
UNODC is mandated to support countries in combating illicit drugs, crime, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, corruption and terrorism.
These crimes by their very existence threaten the rule of law, security and development.
Moreover, unless the rule of law can be established and strengthened, we cannot hope to address these threats in a sustainable way.
And the rule of law cannot be upheld without effective prosecution services that act with integrity and impartiality in the administration of justice.
Your work is therefore critical in the fight against organized crime and other transnational threats, on the national and international levels. UNODC is committed to supporting you in your endeavours.
Through our many programmes across the world, we help to promote the effectiveness, integrity, impartiality and fairness of criminal proceedings, based on the principle of equality before the law and respect for human rights.
Landmark international documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enshrine these principles and put forward the basic requirements for the integrity and capacity of prosecution services.
The UN Convention against Corruption, of which UNODC is the guardian, emphasizes the importance of the integrity of the judiciary and prosecution service.
UNODC is also guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which provides a broad framework for mutual legal assistance and international cooperation.
These internationally agreed treaties form the cornerstone of UNODC's work to strengthen the rule of law and institutions of justice.
Furthermore, the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, adopted in 1990, set the status of prosecutors' basic requirements.
The Guidelines are further complemented by the IAP's own Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, which have been acknowledged by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
Guided by these documents, UNODC supports countries to enhance prosecutorial capacity and accountability through our projects and programmes, as well as through the development of tools and publications.
We help meet the demand of complex cases and address new and emerging forms of transnational organized crime.
These threats are constantly evolving and multiplying as criminals try to stay a step ahead of the law. They include, but are by no means limited to, crimes committed at sea, trafficking in fraudulent medicines and cultural property, illicit trafficking in precious metals, wildlife crime and cybercrime.
Allow me to provide you with a few examples of our initiatives:
- UNODC's Global Programme against Money-Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism assists Member States in building prosecutors' capacity in the areas of money laundering and detecting proceeds of crime;
- in Afghanistan, one component of the UNODC programme assists Afghan authorities in reforming its criminal justice system in line with international standards and norms;
- in Nigeria, we just started a comprehensive project to support the justice sector, while in Tunisia, UNODC is about to launch a project on strengthening respect for human rights and the rule of law in the criminal justice and law enforcement sectors;
- and just two weeks ago, we launched our new Global Maritime Law Enforcement Programme. It will improve the capacity of States to investigate and prosecute crimes committed at sea. Its initial focus will be on East Africa, the Indian Ocean and West Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We must support the integrity and capacity of prosecutors if we want criminal justice systems that are capable of tackling the scourges of drugs and crime, and that uphold human rights and the rule of law.
UNODC's work to promote fair, effective and impartial prosecution services is in high demand. Requests from Member States for technical assistance in building capacity of prosecutors have continued to increase.
Unfortunately, such demand is not always accompanied by the necessary resources, and challenges remain in promoting international cooperation in this critical area. There is still much work to be done.
Meetings such as this provide an excellent forum for exchanging ideas and practices, and for identifying problems as well as potential solutions. I look forward to your recommendations, and wish you fruitful discussions.