Vienna (Austria) – 1 November 2021. Addressing transnational organized crime requires a multi-stakeholder and multi-approach that involves governments and members of the society. Para 53 of Resolution 9/1 of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to UNTOC provides for the involvement of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), academics and the private sector in the UNTOC review process. To prepare these stakeholders for their engagement, UNODC Civil Society Unit organized, from 27 to 29 October 2021, a virtual workshop on the review mechanism’s self-assessment questionnaire for more than 50 participants from 25 countries, most of which are in groups one and two of the review. The workshop was jointly organised with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) with the support from the Government of the United States’ Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
The workshop prepared participants to take part in the country review at the national level, as well as the general review during COP, and constructive dialogues. The main session led by Maria Cristina Montefusco from UNODC introduced participants to the self-assessment questionnaire, focusing on the structure and examples of relevant articles of cluster one – criminalisation and jurisdiction. The breakout groups allowed participants to get more acquainted with the instrument, identifying how their work is related to the questions, and the steps they can take to engage with their governments. Examples were given by Nini Aung from the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime who stressed the importance of raising awareness about the key protocols of the Conventions. Nina Corona Miquel from the Mexican Commission United Against Trafficking in Persons CUVT highlighted their work with victims on the ground and reflected on criminalisation and money laundering issues in Mexico. The challenges to bring agendas and connect focal points together were described by Paul Banoba from Transparency International. Horacio Pacheco from Auditoria DC, Argentina, pointed out that there is a need to make more emphasis on a wider range of tools from UNODC. To foster the engagement of youth, Ishaan Shah from Stolen Dreams NGO, in the United Kingdom recommended adapting UNTOC-related materials to make them more accessible for youth.
On the final day, useful tools for non-governmental stakeholders’ engagement in the review process were presented, including the Education for Justice (E4J) Initiative, SHERLOC, WhatsOn knowledge platform, and other tools from GI-TOC. Finally, participants were introduced to the work of the NGO Alliance on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice as well as the UNCAC Coalition who shared valuable lessons learned from the UNCAC review process.
Overall, stakeholders established that there is a continuous need for capacity building on UNTOC review process, focusing on the self-assessment questionnaire. Participants also agreed that more support for civil society organizations on the ground is needed to facilitate their increased engagement in the review process.
In conclusion, Billy Batware from UNODC highlighted the importance of collaboration and plans to establish networks at regional level that will bring much needed support that will trickle down to the national level.