Vienna , 11 April 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you to Vienna. I hope that your discussions and decisions will move us towards a comprehensive response to the global threat from crime.
I would like to thank His Excellency Ambassador John Barrett of Canada, Chair of the Commission; Her Excellency Ambassador Nongnuth Phetcharatana of Thailand, Chair of the Committee of the Whole; and the Bureau for all their work preparing for this session.
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we start the 20 th session of the Commission, we have many reasons to be proud about some major achievements. The UN Standards and Norms form the backbone of the criminal justice and crime prevention system worldwide. The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Convention against Corruption are implemented.
But much more still needs to be done to ensure that all people have access to justice within a framework of the rule of law and human rights. And much more needs to be done to combat transnational organized crime.
The international community has long recognized that instability opens the door to crime. But the nature of crime is changing. Even in regions where peace and prosperity prevail, organized criminals are making rapid inroads. They are using technological advances of globalization to develop new and highly lucrative criminal enterprises.
Annual global criminal proceeds may be equivalent to 1.5 percent of the aggregate global GDP. Drug trafficking is the main engine, generating an estimated $320 billion annually. Modern slavery-trafficking in human beings-brings in $32 billion each year, with an estimated 2.5 million victims. Wildlife and environmental crime accounts for at least $3.5 billion-and contributes to deforestation, climate change and increased rural poverty, and threatens the existence of endangered species. Counterfeit medicines valued at $1.6 billion are killing people in South-East Asia, Africa and elsewhere.
Given the huge amounts of money involved, transnational organized crime has the power to undermine legitimate economies, corrupt law enforcement and even buy elections. Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East clearly demonstrate that corruption can shake the very foundations of society.
Modern information and communication technologies have helped to create a new form of crime-cybercrime. States certainly need to harmonize their legal frameworks to face cyberthreats, and to cooperate in developing cyberethics, cybersafety and cybersecurity.
As more people gain access to the Internet, criminals have ever greater opportunities to entrap new victims, including children. Online child abuse is expanding rapidly, but most existing laws were not enacted with the Internet in mind.
I commend the Commission for convening a thematic discussion on cybercrime and how we can keep our children safe in the digital age.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We must recognize a fact of life: drugs and crime are welded together, threatening security and development. We are witnessing more and more instances of non-traditional conflicts and terrorist activities fuelled by drug trafficking and organized crime. UNODC recently convened a high-level symposium on the links between terrorism and crime to gain guidance for our work in support of Member States' criminal justice responses to terrorism.
Member States and UN entities widely recognize that transnational organized crime jeopardize the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. But now we need to translate that awareness into action. We must integrate crime and drug control into our joint efforts to achieve security, development and human rights.
This is of course an enormous and complex challenge. So we need a global strategy. We must fully use the many powerful tools and resources at our disposal, and we have to marshal them more effectively.
First. We must make better use of international legal instruments.
The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols provide a universal legal framework and law enforcement tools to help identify and dismantle organized criminal groups. Since corruption and organized crime feed off each other, the UN Convention against Corruption can also help deter crime.
But we have to admit that both Conventions remain underutilized. We need to achieve their full ratification and full implementation.
As guardian of both Conventions, UNODC stands ready to help Member States to develop and refine legislation, and to enhance their law enforcement and criminal justice capacities to fight organized crime and corruption, and support victims of crime. With both Conventions, a review mechanism could be instrumental to deeper collaboration and effective implementation.
As for the UN Standards and Norms on Criminal Justice, which form the basis for an effective, fair and humane criminal justice system that respects the rule of law and human rights, we may need to ask ourselves whether after 50 years they too could be collectively reassessed and updated?
We also must raise awareness that the Conventions and existing law enforcement and judicial networks can be mobilized to step up international cooperation in investigating transnational organized crime, prosecuting perpetrators, combating money laundering and identifying, freezing and confiscating criminal assets. Despite the existence of anti-money laundering tools, it appears that less than ONE percent of proceeds from crime laundered through the global financial system is intercepted. As long as criminals can hide themselves and their assets in "safe havens," they have an incentive to engage in crime. But if we can separate them from their cash, we can drive them out of business.
Second. We need a comprehensive and integrated approach that strengthens resistance to organized crime at all points of origin, along trafficking routes, and in the markets it serves. In this regard, we must recognize that crime prevention and criminal justice are not separate issues.
For example, human trafficking remains a low-risk, high-profit business-but if traffickers are punished and their assets are seized, it may no longer be an attractive line of business.
Combating human trafficking has long been one of UNODC's priorities. It is almost a year since the General Assembly adopted the UN Global Plan of Action that established the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. UNODC set up the Trust Fund and its advisory board and even launched the first small grants programme. But if the Trust Fund is really going to make a difference in the lives of victims, it needs much more support. Today the Trust Fund's current financial situation contrasts sharply to the widespread commitment among Member States to combat human trafficking. I encourage all Member States to support the Trust Fund. Victims of human trafficking all over the world need your support and solidarity.
UNODC's integrated field programmes continue to serve as regional and national hubs of action and expertise. Our Counter-Piracy Programme offers a good example of this strategy in action. Although the rapid emergence of piracy off the Horn of Africa is a maritime problem, it feeds off the instability, weak governance and poverty on land, in Somalia. So, we have to address this issue in a comprehensive way.
We have to acknowlage another worrisome trend: pirates are rapidly professionalizing, with access to maritime intelligence and money laundering channels. It is also clear that piracy has links to terrorism.
UNODC supports regional efforts to detain and prosecute pirates by building the capacity of regional States. By strengthening the rule of law in Somalia to combat piracy, we are helping this country to rebuild itself.
But also we need to reassess our counter-piracy strategy and go after the money flows. We must investigate and prosecute not only pirates but also all those who organize, plan, finance and unlawfully profit from acts of piracy.
Third, the UN needs a system-wide approach that integrates responses to transnational organized crime (including criminal justice reform) into its peacekeeping, peace-building, security, development and disarmament activities.
No country, no matter how powerful it is, can confront on its own a global criminal enterprise backed by billions of dollars. The UN is the only universal organization capable of tackling organized crime comprehensively and systemically.
Last month, the Policy Committee of the Secretary-General agreed to develop a system-wide response to organized crime and illicit drugs that will draw upon the whole range of capabilities available within the UN system.
Fourth . We must do more to protect people from crime and help victims of crime. We must also help people who are vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers and other criminals to find legitimate ways to support themselves and their families. We must continue to strengthen the capacity of public institutions, but we also need to work with local administrations and communities and grassroots organizations to reach out to victims. We must forge new partnerships-with Governments, civil society, the private sector and the media.
Fifth, we need to strengthen research and analysis so that we can better understand the scope and nature of crime threats, with particular attention to their transnational dimensions, and pinpoint areas where interventions are most likely to be effective. By strengthening the link between research and programmes, we can provide better targeted responses.
Finally , as I emphasized at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the critical state of UNODC's governance and finance must be addressed.
UNODC has developed an integrated approach to confronting drugs and crime, yet our system of governance is divided, which undercuts our effectiveness. Streamlining our governance structure would help Member States give us clearer operational and policy guidance.
UNODC also needs predictable financing. We are striving to do more with less, while maintaining the high quality and cost-effectiveness of our work. I am also giving independent evaluation a key role in assuring quality and accountability. But in the long run, our funding structure is not viable. Responding to transnational organized crime and drug trafficking is a shared responsibility, and the cost of efforts to tackle these threats must also be shared. Otherwise, UNODC will no longer be able to carry out our mandates effectively.
As the global economic crisis continues, the UN is facing budgetary constraints. We responded with reforms and cost-cutting measures to increase efficiency. In this context, it might be useful for the Commission to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the performance and impact of the Crime Congress.
Later today, at the Operational Segment, I plan to invite Member States to take part in an open dialogue and serious discussion about the urgent challenges that face UNODC. I am counting on your engagement and support.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Crime is a global threat, and we have a common interest in stopping its spread. In all our crime prevention and criminal justice efforts, we must reinforce our commitment to the basic principles of human rights, the rule of law, and shared responsibility. By working together-by strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones-we can create a world that is safer, healthier and more just for women, men and children all over the world.
I thank you very much.