7 March 2021 – Since its establishment in 1955, the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has met every five years in different countries around the world. During each Crime Congress, Member States have joined forces to set national and international policies to improve cooperation in this field.
The 13th UN Crime Congress, held in Doha in April 2015, took the Crime Congress to a new level. Following the adoption of the Doha Declaration, UNODC launched an ambitious global programme generously funded by the State of Qatar, dedicated solely to the promotion of rule of law. Via four components (Education for Justice, Judicial Integrity, Youth Crime Prevention through Sport, and Prisoner Rehabilitation), the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration laboured under the central understanding that rule of law and sustainable development are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
In the five years since its inception, the Global Programme has established its solid credentials as a driving force on rule of law matters in the international arena, reaching millions of people around the world and actively supporting Member States in their crime prevention efforts. These impressive achievements have been highlighted in the Global Programme’s special publication Inspiras, a retrospective magazine covering half a decade of operations and innovations that have helped pave the way for the continuance of programmes for the promotion of justice and the rule of law. Even with the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Programme continued to impact on three fronts: tailored responses to the pandemic, enhanced multilingualism initiatives, and the continuous delivery of global activities carried out through virtual means.
The 14th Crime Congress was delayed for a year because of the global pandemic but opened today in Kyoto, following a hybrid approach given ongoing restrictions.
Day one’s agenda included a Special Event convened around justice, the rule of law, and the Global Programme’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, featuring several high-level speakers and key partners from across the world.
In her opening statement, UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly reflected on the factors that played an important role in the Global Programme’s wide reach and impact: “The Global Programme’s comprehensive, people-centred approach to interconnected rule of law challenges built on UNODC’s global expertise and extensive field presence to deliver assistance when and where needed, with a focus on national ownership, to foster inclusive, resilient communities, and promote access to justice with integrity and accountability.”
It is through a multifaceted and collaborative approach that over 2.5 million people from 190 countries have been reached thus far under the Global Programme, which also gave specific direct technical assistance to 84 countries. This was achieved through numerous innovative tools developed by the Global Programme, and through partnerships with stakeholders around the world in the public and private sector, international organizations, educational institutions, and civil society organizations, among others.
Major General Dr. Abdullah Al Mal, Advisor to the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, stressed that the success of the Global Programme rested on its transforming the political commitments contained in the Doha Declaration into concrete, tangible realities. This, he noted, served as a basis for the operational Global Programme to help countries, mainly those in the developing group, to address the challenges posed by organized crime, corruption, drugs and terrorism. “The Global Programme implemented comprehensive policies and projects that foster socio-economic development, to build resilient, reliable and transparent institutions,” he said, “and the State of Qatar encourages Member States to take the Global Programme as a model for their future support of UNODC.”
Yoko Kamikawa, Minister of Justice of Japan, concurred on the importance of strong support. “A prominent legacy of the Doha Congress was the strong commitment and leadership of Qatar in the implementation of the Doha Declaration,” she stated, “and today, I promise that Japan will follow Qatar and strive to embark on this aspirational enterprise to produce tangible outcomes with the Kyoto Declaration as the compass.” Ms. Kamikawa introduced Japan’s ongoing initiative of “Shiho-Gaiko” (“Justice Affairs Diplomacy”) to promote the rule of law across the globe, for which she believes the Kyoto Congress provides a turning point.
For the official handover of the Crime Congress Presidency from the State of Qatar to Japan, Ambassador Sultan Salmeen Al-Mansouri, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN in Vienna, representing the outgoing presidency of the 13th United Nations Crime Congress, presented to Ms. Kamikawa, the incoming president of the 14th Crime Congress, a model boat to symbolize the ongoing journey in the work on crime prevention and criminal justice – from the 13th, to the 14th, and subsequently to the 15th Crime Congress to be held in 2025.
It is a journey that continues to require a multilateral response. As highlighted by Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, “there is much work to do in this Decade of Action to implement sustainable development. However, your work on the rule of law and justice has laid the foundation for a better world for all. Working together, we can succeed in tackling crime and leaving no one behind.”