Statement on behalf of
Third Committee of the General Assembly
12 October 2001
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates,
It will come as no surprise that Afghanistan occupies a central spot in our concerns. This is certainly the case with regard to international drug control. It is also true, at least indirectly, with regard to crime prevention.
Turning first to drug control, I had expected to concentrate my remarks on the implications of the Taliban's ban on opium poppy cultivation in areas under their control.
The ban was announced last July, prior to the October poppy-planting season. We now have the results of our annual ground survey of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. This year's production is around one hundred eighty-five tons. This is down from the three thousand three hundred tons last year, a decrease of over ninety-four per cent. Compared to the record harvest of four thousand seven hundred tons two years ago, the decrease is well over ninety-seven per cent.
Any decrease in illicit cultivation is welcomed, especially in cases like this when no displacement, locally or in other countries, took place to weaken the achievement. However, two related factors require attention.
First of all, the enormous increases in production in the two seasons prior to the ban mean that there are large stocks on hand. For this reason, the decrease in production has not yet had any impact on heroin supply in the region or in Europe, which, I should add, draws most of its heroin from the Afghan opium production.
Second, the sudden absence of opium poppy combined with the serious drought in the region to create an emergency situation among the farmers who were economically dependent on the poppy as a source of cash income.
Taking this set of circumstances into account, we pursued a strategy based on three principles, worked out in consultation with Member States, including those neighbouring Afghanistan. First, we wanted to ensure that the Taliban sticks to the ban on cultivation. Second, we promoted an emergency humanitarian aid programme for those farmers who have been most seriously affected by the ban. Third, we pressed for destruction of the stockpiles and clandestine heroin laboratories know to be in the country.
The tragic events of September the Eleventh create a different scenario for Afghanistan. The aid to former poppy farmers has been suspended, including a recently started project in Nangarhar Province.
The absence of aid to the farmers could make it difficult to sustain the ban on cultivation. This matter will become crucial now that the planting season is beginning for next year's harvest.
Our strategy for the region has been based on the need to create a barrier to the flow of drugs coming out of Afghanistan. This has received strong support from those countries immediately surrounding Afghanistan, which recognize the threat posed to them by this traffic. We are working with all these countries, although the resources available are far from adequate to respond to the needs.
For example, UNDCP assisted Tajikistan in creating a national Drug Control Agency. Total heroin seizures to date this year in Tajikistan total three tons, compared to just over one ton at the same time last year. The Russian border guards stationed in Tajikistan play an important role in this success.
The drugs in transit pose a multiple threat to the populations of countries along these intensive trafficking routes. Addiction is a serious problem in Iran and Pakistan and is becoming ever more worrisome in some of the Central Asian countries. Drug trafficking and related crime are also quite correctly perceived as a threat to security.
A number of regional initiatives are underway to address the drug problem. I will mention only a few.
In September 2000 the Six plus Two Group adopted a regional action plan on against drugs.
The following month, ODCCP and the Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe co-sponsored an international conference in Tashkent on Enhancing Security and Stability.
The Central Asian countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 1996 on cooperation in drug control, to which UNDCP is also a signatory. The Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and the Aga Khan Development Network have also joined the group.
At its most recent review meeting in early September, the group endorsed a Strategic Programme Framework for Central Asia, elaborated by ODCCP in line with recommendations of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
ODCCP is involved in the concrete follow-up to all these initiatives through national, subregional regional projects.
I want to underline the urgency of providing drug control assistance to these states in the first line of defense, including Central Asia and also Pakistan and Iran. They bear a heavy burden as a first barrier to the flow of drugs from Afghanistan. And their vulnerability to the destabilizing effects of drug trafficking and to drug abuse is now even greater than before. Given the limited possibility to work inside Afghanistan at present, we would urge the international community to increase the support being provided to these countries.
The money generated by drug trafficking, which is so readily available to finance criminal activity and terrorism, now moves around the world at the push of buttons. ODCCP's Global Programme on Money Laundering operates a growing number of concrete assistance programmes to the increasing number of offshore banking centers that have committed themselves to adopting internationally accepted standards.
The need to comment extensively on Afghanistan and related issues reduces the time available to address our work in other regions. I will attempt a brief overview and will be pleased to provide more detail in response to any questions you might have.
Turning first to East and South Asia, the Lao PDR Government has brought forward to 2005 its target for full elimination of illicit poppy, two years ahead of the Special Session target. A reduction of thirty-six per cent in cultivated area has already been achieved since 1998, mostly in areas benefiting from alternative development projects. The work in Laos is an excellent example of operational synergy among aid sources to ensure effective alternative development, including the Asian Development Bank, IFAD, German and US bilateral aid programmes and of course UNDCP.
Myanmar has reduced opium poppy cultivation by thirty-eight per cent over the past five years, down to just over one thousand tons last year. This has been achieved with very limited international assistance. With the application of the ban in Afghanistan, Myanmar will be the largest single source of opium this year, but we are of the view that with increased assistance it would be possible to achieve additional major reductions in cultivation in Myanmar.
Subregional cooperation is also strong in this region. A UNDCP-initiated MOU arrangement among the six Mekong countries is now over ten years old. In October of last year, the ASEAN countries and China endorsed an action plan addressing all sectors of drug control, including measures for enhanced cross-border cooperation.
Turning to Latin America, where the main focus is cocaine, Bolivia and Peru continue the pattern of achievement established in recent years. In Bolivia, illicit coca cultivation dropped from thirty-three thousand eight hundred hectares in 1997 to only three thousand one hundred hectares in 2001. This means a decrease of eighty-eight per cent in cocaine potential. In both countries, the aim is now to consolidate and sustain the past drug control successes by implementing wider and deeper alternative development programmes. Further international assistance is essential to this effort.
The internal armed conflict and the global drug problem weigh heavily on Colombia. The country is implementing a determined drug policy, and UNDCP continues to play a role through alternative development projects in several illicit crop areas, addressing the needs of thirty-five thousand families within the limited resources available.
Brazil has succeeded in reducing the proportion of HIV/AIDS cases that are drug-related from 26 per cent to 12 per cent. This has been achieved through a nationwide prevention programme involving also UNDCP and other UN system partners. In this connection, I would like to point out that Brazil provides significant levels of funding to UNDCP through cost-sharing arrangements.
The last session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs called on the international community and UNDCP to give greater attention to the African region. We are now working with the African countries to draw up a comprehensive strategy for the region, expected to be ready by the end of the year. We have already increased the funding available for Africa within the proposed 2002/2003 budget for the Fund of UNDCP, to be considered by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in December.
I will offer one observation of a general nature. Following up on the outcome of the 1998 Special Session of the General Assembly, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs gave a firm endorsement to the principle of a balanced approach, in effect calling for an increase in attention to demand reduction. We have also taken this into account in our budget for the next biennium.
Earlier this year the Office for Internal Oversight Services undertook its regular triennial reviews of UNDCP and the Centre for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. We were also inspected by the Board of Auditors. In addition, a special OIOS exercise examined management and administrative practices of ODCCP. The main reports were made public, and we circulated to Permanent Missions in Vienna last month a status report on measures taken to implement the recommendations emerging from these exercises. Copies of that status report are available today.
This is not the time to go into detail on the measures we have taken. I will only highlight a few areas of special concern, particularly to the OIOS management review.
At the heart of the management reforms is an increased delegation of authority to managers, giving them the degree of decision-making authority needed to act on their own and take responsibility for their actions. This applies to both programme matters and to financial and budgetary matters.
It has been possible to move forward fairly quickly with regard to programme matters. The creation in March of a Programme and Project Committee was an important step on the programme side, supported by delegated authority to approve projects up to a certain budget level.
The delegation of responsibility for budget and financial matters is more complex. The OIOS called for both "strengthened financial oversight" and "reinforced delegation of financial authority." While these are not contradictory, we feel that we must proceed methodically and carefully. We have prepared a set of guidelines for the delegation of financial authority, which will be fully implemented by the end of the year.
All of these measures interact with other changes. For example, in the next biennium 2002-2003, we will be using results-based budgeting. This will facilitate delegation of authority and accountability, since targets and objectives are much clearer from the beginning.
We have also taken steps to build up our evaluation capacity, through the creation of a new Planning and Evaluation Unit.
Lastly, in line with the OIOS recommendations, we are actively reinforcing the synergies between UNDCP and the Crime Centre. This is already well advanced in a number of areas.
As we have begun implementing the various management reforms, we have been encouraged by the positive reaction of a number of Member States.
I would be pleased to answer any questions the Committee might have on the follow-up to the OIOS and audit reports.
Joining me today is Mr. Vetere, Director of the Centre for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I will give the floor to him for an introduction on the crime issue.
It is my pleasure to introduce the agenda item on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. You have five reports before you dealing with various aspects of the item.
A number of major developments have occurred since the Assembly's consideration of this item last year.
The most significant event was the General Assembly's adoption last November of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols, which deal with trafficking in persons, the smuggling of migrants, and illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, the last of which was adopted in May. The High Level Political Conference on the Convention, held in Palermo in December, was attended by representatives of 149 States, sixteen of them at the Head of State or Government level. A total of 123 States and the European Community signed the Convention at the Conference, the highest number of opening signatures for a convention in United Nations history. The current status is 132 signatories to the Convention, 91 for the trafficking protocol, 87 for the smuggling of migrants protocol and five for the firearms protocol. Five countries have already ratified the Convention.
The Convention and the Protocols remain open for signature until 12 December 2002 and States may join them by accession after that date. Member States are urged to sign and ratify them as soon as possible, in order to ensure the expeditious entry into force of these new powerful instruments against transnational organized crime.
The Convention represents a milestone in international cooperation against transnational organized crime. The Centre for International Crime Prevention has initiated several efforts to promote its entry into force. These include the organization of regional and subregional seminars on ratification and responding to individual requests from Member States for advice and assistance. Four sub-regional meetings have already been held: SADC countries met in South Africa; Central American countries met in Guatemala; ASEAN countries met in Vietnam; and ECO countries met in Teheran. Several CARICOM countries recently signed the Convention at a special signing ceremony here in New York last month.
In this connection, as recommended by the Commission at its Tenth Session, the Assembly has before it a draft resolution on supporting capacity-building and technical cooperation activities for the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols. This resolution will give further impetus to the work we have already started.
The Commission on Crime Prevention and Prevention and Criminal Justice held its tenth session in May, followed by an intersessional meeting and a resumed tenth session in early September. The reports on the work of the Commission at these meetings are contained in document E/2001/30. The most prominent theme of the tenth session was progress made in global action against corruption. I will revert to this topic later.
As requested by the Assembly in resolutions 55/59 and 60, the Commission also approved and recommended to the Assembly, through ECOSOC, plans of action for the implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century. These plans of action constitute important guidance for Member States and the Secretariat for meeting the commitments made by the Tenth Crime Congress last year.
The terrorist attack on the United States on 11 September 2001 has been a quantum leap of international terrorism and calls for the strongest possible response from the international community. A new consensus has emerged with regard to combating terrorism. One week before this terrorist attack, the UN Crime Commission reached overwhelming consensus with regard to an action plan on terrorism in the broader framework of the Plans of Action to implement the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century which was adopted by the 10th Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in April 2000.
The Plan of Action with regard to terrorism includes five national action points and five international action points. The latter fall under the responsibility of the Terrorism Prevention Branch which is part of the Centre for International Crime Prevention. The Terrorism Prevention Branch had originally received a mandate from the General Assembly to engage in research and technical cooperation. The Plan of Action currently before the Assembly would focus this mandate more sharply. This focus includes work to
"raise awareness of the relevant international instruments, encourage States to sign and ratify such instruments, and, where feasible, provide assistance in implementing such instruments to States upon request".
The Branch has been mandated to do so in coordination with the Office of Legal Affairs and has already drafted a project idea for implementation.
While terrorism is now at the top of the UN agenda, the unit most directly qualified to deal with this issue is understaffed - it consists of two professionals - and without other resources. I therefore appeal to you to provide the minimum resources required to enable the Centre to carry out its mandate. I also appeal to Member States to provide voluntary contributions for technical cooperation.
I would also like to bring to your attention that the Commission has recommended a draft resolution for adoption by the Assembly on the "Role, function, periodicity and duration of the United Nations congresses on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders". With this draft resolution, the Assembly will revitalize and better focus a central component of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme.
Let me now revert to the Commission's work in fighting corruption. The Commission provided guidance for the work of an intergovernmental open-ended expert group to prepare the draft terms of reference for the negotiation of a future legal instrument against corruption, pursuant to Assembly resolutions 55/61 and 188 of last December. The expert group met in Vienna from 30 July to 3 August and successfully drew up the terms of reference for the negotiations of the new convention. At its resumed session in September, the Commission recommended the adoption of a resolution approving these terms of reference. The initiation of work for elaborating a United Nations convention against corruption represents another major step in international cooperation in an area that is critical in the fight against crime and in support of the rule of law.
In the same resolution, the Assembly called for further international and national measures to combat corrupt practices and bribery in international transactions and for increased international cooperation in preventing the transfer of illicit funds and in the returning of such funds. A report on this topic is one of the five documents before the Assembly.
The Centre has continued its technical cooperation with Member States in the framework of the global programmes against corruption, trafficking in human beings and transnational organized crime. Assistance is also provided in other areas, such as juvenile justice and crime prevention. In all, some thirty projects for technical assistance are in various stages of formulation and implementation. The Centre is benefiting from greater synergies of operation with UNDCP in the design and implementation of projects. Increased representation of CICP at the country and subregional levels is also being achieved, through the conversion of eight UNDCP offices to ODCCP offices, in line with ECOSOC resolution 1998/24.
The number of countries participating in the Global Programme against Corruption has increased from three to seven: Benin, Colombia, Hungary, Lebanon, Nigeria, Romania and South Africa. Discussions are currently underway with other countries, including Indonesia and Iran. An annual report on global corruption trends is also being initiated.
The Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings is implementing four technical cooperation projects, in the Philippines, in the Czech Republic and Poland, in Brazil and in West Africa, specifically Benin, Nigeria and Togo. A data base on trafficking trends and flows and best practices in combating trafficking is also being established.
The Global Programme against Transnational Organized Crime focuses on the collection and analysis of data and the provision of technical cooperation in improving the information base on organized crime.
The discrepancy between the resources of the Centre and the mandates assigned to it has long been recognized. Yet in the past year alone, there has been a further heavy increase in the mandates entrusted to the Centre, most significantly relating to promotion of the entry into force of the Palermo Convention and the elaboration of a Convention against Corruption. I am grateful to Member States that the next programme budget will see a modest increase in the regular budget of the Centre, including a few additional posts. This is a most welcome initial remedial measure, but the discrepancy between mandates and resources nevertheless still remains.
I want to recognise and thank the increasing number of countries that have made voluntary contributions to the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund. Contributions to the Fund have averaged $3 million per year over the past three years. Our ability to deliver on many of our expanded commitments also depends heavily on increases in voluntary contributions, both for specific projects or programmes and for the general work of the Centre.
Mr. Maertens and I look forward to your comments and would be pleased to provide more information and to answer any questions you have.