Director General/ Executive Director
Remarks of the Executive Director to the Economic and Social Council
25 June 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me thank you for the kind invitation to brief members of the Economic and Social Council about the work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the Council for its recognition of the impact of drugs and crime on sustainable development.
This has been translated into solid action through the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. I thank ECOSOC for this endorsement of our work.
The challenges, we collectively face, are so great that they require UNODC to deliver solutions based on its operations, and with the support of ECOSOC.
I was particularly pleased that the President of the Council Ambassador Milos Koterec was able to find the time to address the last session of the CCPCJ.
The event vividly highlighted the possibility of more direct interaction between UNODC and ECOSOC.
I would very much welcome this in the future and I look forward to the ECOSOC high level meeting on accountability, transparency and sustainable development to be held on 9 July.
Illicit drugs and transnational organized crime are real and serious threats undermining stability, fuelling terrorism, hindering economic and social development, as well as eroding the rule of law and human rights.
UNODC's response has been threefold:
- We promote global anti-crime solutions that recognize the interconnected nature of drugs and crime, while also tailoring solutions to the specific environment.
- Our approach is based on integrated regional programmes and on strong political commitment and the delivery of projects and programmes at the ground level.
- We promote interagency work that builds relations with UN agencies, Member States, NGO's and the public that support our activities.
For example, in West and Central Asia, we are promoting partnerships in law enforcement cooperation, as well as vital work in the areas of health, prevention and human rights.
In December 2011, a regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries was launched and this is closely tied to our Country Programme launched recently while I was on mission to Kabul.
These two programmes are linked to the Paris Pact initiative that builds international cooperation, as well as CARICC and the Triangular Initiative.
Another closely allied initiative is Operation Tarcet, which targets the trafficking of precursor chemicals needed to make illicit drugs.
These activities have delivered a series of successful seizures. In late 2011, Afghan drugs that weighed 5.7 tons, worth an estimated US$130 million, were seized by a CARICC facilitated operation.
Our recently launched Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe is also helping to interrupt the flow of heroin moving through the so-called, "Balkan Route."
West Africa is another important priority for UNODC due to its position as a trafficking route for cocaine into Europe.
UNODC is co-managing such activities as the Container Control Programme, and AIRCOP.
Elsewhere in the region, we have helped establish Transnational Crime Units in Sierra Leone, Liberia and some other countries.
Our Counter-Piracy Programme in East Africa is building close cooperation among Member States.
Around 600 piracy suspects are presently being held by countries in the region. Of that number, over half have been convicted.
UNODC is providing legal and technical assistance to these countries, building prisons, court rooms, including in Somalia. We also focus on illicit money flows that support the piracy.
Within Central America, we are expanding the Container Programme and our network of prosecutors. At the same time, we are strengthening our Regional hub in Panama to link with a re-profiled office in Mexico and other countries in the region.
In South East Asia, UNODC is addressing drug trafficking by working to create cross border cooperation between the countries of the Greater Mekong sub-region.
UNODC's work on human trafficking is also delivering support on the ground to victims of this modern form of slavery.
The UN adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2010, which led to the creation of a UN Voluntary Trust Fund for victims.
Working with 11 NGOs within our Small Grants Facility, we have started to provide direct assistance to victims in different parts of the world.
UNODC is also focusing on developing its anti-corruption and anti-money laundering instruments.
Our Global Programme Against Money Laundering is increasing awareness of illicit money flows, including those linked to terrorism and other crimes.
If we are to strike a telling blow against the criminals and their networks, we must continue to build the capacities of states to identify, trace, seize and confiscate criminal assets.
At the level of UN Secretariat, the Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking, established last year by the Sectretary-General, is creating effective inter-agency approaches to the threat of drugs and crime.
Fundamental to UNODC's work in the field is the support and assistance that we receive from Member States through the CND and the CCPCJ.
Twelve resolutions were adopted at the 55th Session of the CND. They included the Follow-up to the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners on Combating Illicit Traffic in Opiates Originating in Afghanistan.
Significantly, the 21st session of the Crime Commission, which was held in April, has laid out the pathway towards the 2015 Thirteenth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha.
The outcomes of these commissions and their carefully worded resolutions have an impact on other major areas including the environment and sustainable development. The reports are brought to the attention of ECOSOC.
I appreciate these reports may seem to some highly technical, but I would encourage ECOSOC to do everything possible to carefully consider their contents.
These topics can be seen within the broader development context and would fit within the broader ECOSCO framework.
The Vienna-based Commissions are also eager to contribute to the larger UN agenda and keen to be involved, through ECOSOC, in the implementation of the outcome of Rio plus 20 and in the preparations of the post 2015 Development Agenda.
Member States also recommended in the Political Declaration and Plan of Action that ECOSOC should devote a high-level segment to a theme related to the world drug problem.
This will offer an excellent opportunity for the Council to address this issue in a broader development context.
On the issue of financing and governance, UNODC is taking effective steps to create an open and transparent organization.
But, our reliance on voluntary contributions is creating additional difficulties as we move towards an integrated approach to combating illicit drugs and transnational organized crime.
As criminal networks now span regions, we need a global approach that is as flexible, intelligent and sophisticated as the networks.
Our Independent Evaluation Unit is also evaluating our integrated programming approach.
A dedicated "Change Management Coordination Team" has also been established within the organization. The Team is currently reviewing UNODC's work and finding innovative ways to streamline the organization.
UNODC is delivering on its promises to work within the UN and to build the initiatives necessary to assist Member States with capacity building and technical assistance.
And there are good reasons for doing so. The evolving nature of drugs and crime means that they now represent real challenges across the world.
But, if we are to meet these challenges in a strategic manner, long term funding sources are needed.