From knowledge to action: UNODC calls on members to act multilaterally and counter Transnational Organized Crime threats

Bangkok (Thailand), 1 June 2012
- Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC Regional Representative, East Asia and the Pacific, has warned member states that nations must act together to address the threat from the "dark side of globalization". He was referring specifically to the threat from transnational organized crime and drug trafficking.

"Transnational organized crime undermines legitimate economies and governments," Mr. Lewis said. "Nations must act multilaterally to defeat it - and the first step to solving a problem like transnational organized crime is to recognize it and understand its dimensions.

"There isn't enough information - at present - on the nature, extent, patterns and trends of transnational organized crime. UNODC's regional Transnational Organized Threat Assessments (TOCTAs) - including our own in East Asia and the Pacific - will help to fill this gap and point the way to effective responses."

Mr. Lewis made his comments during a briefing to the Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives (ACPR) to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP) on the UN Task Force on TOC and Drug Trafficking and the forthcoming TOCTA for East Asia and the Pacific.

The meeting, attended by Permanent Representatives and diplomatic representatives from member states in the broader Asia-Pacific region - including Australia, China, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia and Thailand - was chaired by the Deputy Head of Mission and Permanent Representative to ESCAP for Australia, Mr. Simon Farbenbloom.

The Deputy Executive Secretary for the ESCAP, Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, introduced Mr. Lewis and noted the establishment of the UN Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime in New York in 2011.

In his briefing, Mr. Lewis provided a comprehensive background on the mandate and work of the UN Task Force on TOC and Drug Trafficking. This included initiatives for integrating TOC into UN Country Team work and through the UN Resident Coordinator system. Mr. Lewis noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country to have integrated the issue of drug-trafficking into its UNDAF. The focus of his presentation was on the impact of TOC on security, justice and development, particularly human rights and human security issues.

Outlining the deep, negative impacts created by transnational organized crime syndicates and the need for a TOCTA, Mr. Lewis said: "Transnational organized crime creates a massive denial of justice. Transnational organized crime syndicates infect political groups, undermine elections, compromise media and justice systems, and steal money intended for schools and hospitals."

The second part of the presentation focused on the regional TOCTA, as part of the threat-mapping work done under the auspices of the UN Task Force. This started with background on the UNODC global TOCTA from 2010 as an introduction to the themes and focus areas of the TOCTA for East Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Lewis explained the timelines and the review process of the TOCTA by the UN Task Force and member states, and the additional possibility of a regional review process. He concluded by introducing the linkages of the TOCTA and its recommendations with the forthcoming planning for UNODC's Regional Programme Framework for 2013-2016 and the relevance to potential donor funding.

In the general discussions, the representatives of member states raised some significant questions and issues in relation to the UN Task Force and the TOCTA.