Cuenca, 9 February 2023 - In order to provide a holistic and collaborative response to the complex problem of organized crime, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held the Second Workshop for the Development of the National Strategy against Organized Crime in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, from 7 until 9 February 2023. The work methodology promotes a participatory and inter-institutional process through the approach of four fundamental pillars: prevention, prosecution, protection and promotion of international cooperation.
During the three-day workshop, participants discussed and debated the challenges they face in responding to transnational organized crime in their respective areas of expertise. The meeting was implemented within the framework of UNODC's global project on strategies against organized crime, made possible thanks to the support of the UK Home Office.
Some of the most relevant aspects addressed were: the need to implement legal frameworks, preventive work to strengthen the country’s social fabric, especially in risk areas, and the importance of coordination between the different functions of the State. In addition to these aspects, the need to generate protocols for inter-institutional information exchange, the implementation of monitoring mechanisms and the constant evaluation of public officials are also key components of the strategy.
"Organized criminal groups have demonstrated their ability to infiltrate social, political and economic structures on a global scale, often through corruption and illicit financing, creating a vicious cycle that weakens democratic institutions and systems, undermines human rights and entrenches social and economic inequalities," said UNODC Representative for Peru and Ecuador, Antonino De Leo, in his opening remarks.
That is why, added the UNODC Representative, "the United Nations has renewed its assistance to States in the difficult task of formulating such comprehensive responses through the Strategy Toolkit, which sets out key principles and aspects of the strategies, promotes evidence-based decision-making and includes a series of objectives and activities adaptable to national contexts. It also encourages the development of strong partnerships across all sectors of society and enhanced cooperation."
As part of the workshop, and as part of the participatory approach, around 13 Ecuadorian State institutions participated: Ministry of the Interior, National Security Secretariat, Ministry of Defense, Joint Command of the Armed Forces, National Police, Attorney General's Office, Judiciary Council, National Court of Justice, Economic and Financial Analysis Unit, Intelligence Center, Comprehensive Care Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education.
The Undersecretary of Security, General Hugo Guerrón, emphasized that as representatives of various state institutions meet, they "are ready to collaborate in the development of this national strategy with its objectives and sub-objectives, and with all the capacity and experience we have we can tip the balance towards the right side for the benefit of our country," adding that "security is an important and complex issue in all areas and that is why we are going to do our bit, in order to be able to confront organized crime."
During the three days of work, the activities for each of the objectives and sub-objectives were defined by consensus, as well as possible institutions responsible for the implementation and monitoring of each activity were mapped. Some of the results obtained are the revision of interventions, approaches and implementation mechanisms that will form the backbone of Ecuador's National Strategy against Organized Crime, through a participatory and inclusive process.
The UNODC team that facilitated these workshops was composed of Flavia Romiti, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer (Vienna); Dmitry Orlov, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer (Vienna); and Cristina Barros, Environmental Team Coordinator and focal point for crime prevention at UNODC Ecuador.
The original version of the webstory in Spanish, was published on the website of UNODC Peru and Ecuador.