18 April 2019 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with financial support from China, organized an expert meeting on international cooperation in criminal matters from 9 to 11 April in Vienna. The event brought together experts and practitioners from 19 countries, representing both civil and common law legal systems, coming from institutions and agencies directly dealing with challenges encountered in international cooperation in criminal matters.
At the opening of the meeting, which achieved gender balance, Candice Welsch, on behalf of the UNODC Division for Treaty Affairs, highlighted "the importance of international cooperation in criminal matters for the coordination of efforts to prevent and combat crime, especially transnational organized and serious crime" and referred to the work of UNODC in this field.
Xiaohong Li, Chief of the Conference Support Section in the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch of UNODC, stressed how the meeting allowed for discussions among practitioners involved in international cooperation casework. She highlighted the importance of continuing to hold such meetings "to generate and facilitate the accumulation of updated information and good practices, keeping pace with new developments and brainstorming on new challenges, and effectively promote cooperation in preventing and combatting organized crime."
Participants discussed, among others, the use of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime as a legal basis for international cooperation in criminal matters; advantages, challenges, lessons learnt and possible responses to international cooperation through mutual legal assistance; international cooperation for confiscation and disposal of confiscated proceeds of crime or property; practical aspects, challenges encountered and good practices in the field of extradition; and UNODC tools on international cooperation in criminal matters and regional networks.
The discussion on the substantive topics of the meeting was supported by written contributions of the experts submitted in advance, panellists presentations and follow-up interaction which facilitated a constructive exchange of views, experiences, good practices and lessons learnt among the participants.
The Chair of the meeting, Xiaoming Zhang, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation in the Ministry of Justice of China, said that "the promotion of international cooperation is primarily a matter of mutual trust to bridge differences arising from different legal cultures and systems on the basis of mutual interests and benefits".
Respects were paid to Dimitri Vlassis, the longstanding Chief of the UNODC Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, who sadly passed away before the meeting.