Launch of UNODC Stakeholder Engagement for UNTOC Regional Network for the Americas

Panama City (Panama) – 7 April 2022. Civil society is an essential partner for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in helping those most in need and in fulfilling sustainable Development Goal 16 in its purpose of combating transnational organized crime. 

Based on this premise, on March 28 and 29, the shaping of a Regional Network made up of representatives of civil society organizations, academia and private sector took place in Panama for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in the Americas in the framework of the SE4U project. The event was co-organized with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and was held back-to-back with UNODC’s  Multistakeholder event on strategies to prevent and combat organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by the Global Programme on Implementing UNTOC which was held thanks to the financial support of the United Kingdom. “In this meeting we are laying the foundations of a regional coordination mechanism for the fight against transnational organized crime with a view to better support Member States in the implementation of the UNTOC and its Review Mechanism”, said Billy Batware, Program Officer at UNODC Civil Society Unit. 

He added that “these common actions and coordination mechanism will guide and facilitate the participation of stakeholders in the review process, including the General Review during the UNTOC Conference of the Parties (COP), the Country Review at the national level through the Self-assessment Questionnaire and Constructive Dialogues between government experts and civil society”. 

At the opening ceremony of this event, Emeldo Márquez, the first specialized Prosecutor against organized crime and Focal Point of the Republic of Panama for the UNTOC Review Mechanism, stressed that "the importance and specialization of serious crimes carried out by criminal organizations demand inter-institutional coordination and support of all the organizations that fight against these criminal phenomena”. 

"We are fully convinced that this Regional Consultation will allow the corresponding parameters to be established so that both civil society and government entities collaborate and actively participate in the review examination, nurturing aspects that allow organized crime to be addressed effectively and accurately". 

This initiative, which brought together more than 20 non-governmental stakeholders, served to exchange "experiences from other countries and learn what we are doing, united, in the fight against crime," said Betty Pedraza Lozano, from Corporación Espacios de Mujer and Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women GAATW (Colombia). 

According to Pedraza, this experience has been valuable because it has allowed them to form "a network to support each other and work together against organized crime". 

Carlos Hernández, from the Asociación para una Sociedad másJusta (Honduras), was grateful for having met "with different organizations from civil society, academia and the private sector that work in our countries on the issue of organized crime," because they were able to "share experiences and strategies” and “create an Americas network to work on this issue and in the implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime”. This meeting offered the opportunity to "collectively educate ourselves, investigate, share and analyze strategies that allow us to advance on this issue in the region," Hernández concluded. 

At the end of the two-day consultation, Hana Damore, head of the Policy Section of the United States Embassy in Panama, referred to this meeting as “an opportunity to learn how stakeholders can better engage with criminal justice partners in different sectors”. 

“In these two days, the participants discussed strategic forms, regional action plans and laid the foundations for a Regional Network for the participation of non-governmental stakeholders in the UNTOC Review Mechanism”, she emphasized.  

“This is a global problem that demands the international community's attention. While originally multilateral fora were only for States, it is becoming increasingly clear that civil society organizations bring important contributions”, stressed Mauricio Zapata, Director for Crime Prevention and Anti-Corruption, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and Focal Point for Mexico UNTOC review.  

The Network will serve as a space for exchange, coordination and support among non-governmental stakeholders across the Americas. It aims to strengthen the collaboration among existing national and regional mechanisms of inter-organizational cooperation. In the context of the UNTOC Review Mechanism, the Network will channel the different country experiences to build on lessons learned and foster the engagement of non-governmental stakeholders in this process, for instance, through sharing and expanding applied research on themes covered by the Convention.  

As guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, UNODC provides technical assistance and promotes capacity building for Member States to support them in their implementation of this Convention. 

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This consultation was held thanks to the financial support of the United States Government. 


Further information

The video summary of the event