17 May 2010 - The nineteenth session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice opened today in Vienna with a call by UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa to Member States to "ensure that nations have the laws, knowledge and tools to deliver justice appropriate to the twenty-first century".
The Commission will decide how to act on conclusions reached and recommendations made at the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which took place in April in Salvador, Brazil. One of those recommendations was to review all United Nations criminal justice standards and norms. "Make no mistake: this review is not housekeeping. It is about building security and development through the rule of law, to ensure people's freedom from fear and freedom from want in the respect of human rights," said Mr. Costa.
Trends in world crime and emerging issues in crime prevention and criminal justice are also being discussed by the Commission. To enrich global understanding of illicit flows, UNODC will soon publish the first-ever transnational organized crime threat assessment.
Mr. Costa called the current crime control system "inadequate to deal with new threats like crimes against the environment, individual identity or the Internet, as well as with old threats like piracy, kidnapping and slavery". He called this failure "the cost of non-justice". He urged countries to upgrade legal instruments, improve knowledge and develop operational tools to disrupt criminal markets. "While we dither about what to do about threats against the Internet or the environment, organized crime is gaining economic and fire power greater than most of your countries," he warned.
During this nineteenth session, Member States will look at how to improve ratification and implementation of the international instruments to prevent and combat crime, including terrorism. Mr. Costa urged Member States to make more effective use of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted at Palermo, Italy, 10 years ago (in 2000). "It is insincere on the part of Member States to speak loud about the threat of organized crime, and then fail to implement the Palermo Convention," he said. In particular, he urged States to finalize an implementation review mechanism. The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime will meet in Vienna from 18 to 22 October.
Stopping trafficking in cultural property is the main theme of this session. "In the past, invading armies plundered national treasures, now it is organized crime," said Mr. Costa. More generally, he called for greater vigilance in the interface between licit and black markets: "the laissez-faire system cannot work if the invisible hand of the market is manipulated by the bloody hand of organized crime".
A number of side events have been organized, including: a presentation on witness protection in Africa; a global review of the death penalty; United Nations responses to children and youth in crime; a review of the latest developments in crime; and organized criminal goups' involvement in trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. In addition, UNODC will present a variety of legal tools that it has developed to provide States and criminal justice practitioners with practical information to facilitate effective implementation of international drug control and organized crime treaties. View the full programme.
The event will be webcast on the UNODC website.
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