The second Constructive Dialogue on International Cooperation and Technical Assistance confirmed the importance of the knowledge and experience exchange

© UNODC Civil Society Unit

Vienna (Austria) – 2 June 2022. A series of Constructive Dialogues on the Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) among State parties and relevant non-governmental stakeholders was launched this year by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The first Constructive Dialogue, which took place in a hybrid format on May 6 in Vienna focused on Firearms. The Constructive Dialogues are mandated by paragraph 53 of the Procedures and rules for the functioning of UNTOC the Review Mechanism. 

The second Constructive Dialogue took place on May 27 and gathered over 130 participants from governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector. The main topic of the discussion was International Cooperation and Technical Assistance, which are fundamental to guarantee the continuity of the review process in the long term, as pointed out by Mirella Dummar Frahi, Chief of the Civil Society Unit (CSU) UNODC at the preceding NGO Briefing.

In his opening remarks, the Chair of UNTOC Working Groups on International Cooperation and Technical Assistance, Thomas Burrows, Associate Director in the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, stated that “the Review Mechanism will greatly benefit from the contributions of all relevant stakeholders”, and thanked them for “shared views and observations, which will serve as an important point of reflection in the overall review process and for the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols”.  Further, the Secretariat provided an overview of the current status of the review process and the support provided by UNODC to State parties and non-governmental stakeholders. 

A constructive exchange 

Anna Alvazzi del Frate, Chair of the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, stressed the role of civil society in amplifying the effects at the local level, highlighting examples of good practices in strengthening the role of the civil society in implementing UNTOC and its protocols.

Several good practices were also shared by participants. In Pakistan, the Centre for Governance Research (CGR) is working with the Government to engage civil society in the UNTOC review process through Pilot Initiatives which are supported by UNODC and the Global Initiative against Organized Crime (GI-TOC). These efforts are inspired by the Pilot Initiative in Mexico which was launched in April 2022. In this regard, “an approach of partnership and cooperation is critical, especially when it comes to International Cooperation and Technical Assistance”, said Tariq Khosa, Director of Partnerships and Legal Affairs at CGR. 

In Somalia, Sarah A. Simons from the NGO Amal (Hope), together with government partners, has identified four key entry points for technical assistance that could strengthen the capacity of law enforcement, judicial, and border control authorities to combat environmental crime, cybercrime, or falsified medical products (FMPs) in wider Eastern and Horn of Africa Region. These are Education, Training, Information Technology & Forensic science facilities and Institution mentorship. "Thanks to International cooperation, Member States, but also non-governmental stakeholders, including civil society can exchange experiences, and good practices, and it’s critical to listen and learn from each other", noted Sarah A. Simons.

During the dialogue, representatives of Member States took the floor and emphasized the unique attributes of civil society by their independent and global nature, and the community integration that makes civil society an invaluable partner in the implementation and review process of treaties and negotiations. Other Member States’ delegates stressed the value-added of the NGO community in providing new knowledge and expertise to governments, so they can legislate more efficiently.

Thus, the second Constructive Dialogue has proved a platform for more civil society, academia, and private sector to share their experiences, and contributions and were able, in the end, to create a strong network for collaboration and cooperation in the long term. It also reaffirmed the importance of the exchange of knowledge and experience between stakeholders on the ground and State parties in enhancing technical assistance and international cooperation for the UNTOC implementation. 

A written report summarizing the dialogue will be prepared by the Chair with the support of the Secretariat and will be made available to the Working Group at its next session. The report will also be posted on the UNODC website.

The final Constructive Dialogue for 2022 will take place on 1 July focusing on Smuggling of Migrants & Trafficking in Persons.