A man is speaking behind a podium. On the wall, a projector screen with the logo of UNODC and of the Global Programme on Implementing the Organized Crime Convention: from Theory to Practice, and the flag of Japan with the words "From the People of Japan". The following text appears on the projector screen: "First inter-regional event on building resilience against organized crime - 21-23 February 2023, Bangkok".
Bangkok (Thailand), 27 February 2023 - Organized crime – from money-laundering to human trafficking, cybercrime and more – tends to flourish in times of crisis. Quick to exploit vulnerabilities, organized criminal groups seize on lucrative opportunities that have multiplied during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent economic downturns, natural disasters, and armed conflicts.
In 2020, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned that while the COVID-19 pandemic had reduced certain organized crime activities, it simultaneously provided opportunities for new ones, such as infiltrating private companies or misusing public funds. More recently, the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022 indicated that crisis situations such as war, conflict, and even climate change increase trafficking risks.
In turn, organized crime can itself make many crises worse – the illicit arms trade can help ignite or sustain a conflict, for instance, while the illegal extraction and trade in natural resources can lead to fighting over dwindling assets needed by many communities to survive.
To counter these threats, a coordinated and focused response aimed at bolstering the resilience of States and the international system to shocks and crisis is needed. To this end, UNODC held the first Interregional Event on Strengthening Resilience to Organized Crime in Bangkok on 21-23 February 2023. The event, funded by the Government of Japan, gathered experts from over 20 countries across the world. During the event, these experts formulated specific recommendations for priority interventions geared to respond to several crisis scenarios, including pandemics, natural disasters, economic downturns, conflicts, and surges in organized crime violence.
Mr. Jumpon Phansumrit, Deputy Attorney General of Thailand, said that although the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) was adopted more than twenty years ago, organized crime still represents a significant threat to our societies. He highlighted the importance of international cooperation between States in investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating organized crime.
H.E. Corinne Kitsell, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom (UK) to the United Nations in Vienna, emphasized that the scale and complexity of organized crime is astonishing. She added that it was against this background that the UK funded the development of the UNODC Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit to help develop national strategies that prioritize respect for gender and human rights obligations and protect victims and those most vulnerable in our societies.
Mr. Yuichi Oba, Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Thailand and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), insisted on the importance of comprehensive, evidence-based national policies and strategies to combat organized crime that include not only a law enforcement perspective and criminal justice perspective but also a strong crime prevention dimension.
The recommendations shared by international experts over the three-day discussion will be key for the finalization of a guidance tool for States confronted with such crises and in need of developing targeted policies and interventions. Key observations will be included in an Annex to UNODC’s Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit, funded by the United Kingdom and published in 2021.
Relying on the Toolkit, UNODC is currently supporting countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and the Western Balkans to elaborate national strategies against organized crime. Thanks to the steadfast support of the UK, UNODC’s technical assistance in this ambit will also be extended to Asia in the coming months.
In 2021, UNODC launched the Organized Crime Strategy Toolkit to support States in developing inclusive and coordinated approaches to organized crime leaving no one behind, in line with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Using the strategic approach presented in the Toolkit, the Global Programme on Implementing the Organized Crime Convention: from Theory to Practice supports States in developing national strategic responses to tackle organized crime more effectively. For more information, please click here.