Vienna, 20 September 2023. How can States strengthen law enforcement cooperation to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of transnational organized crime?
The practical implementation of Article 27 on law enforcement cooperation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) was the focus of the discussions of the 2023 Constructive Dialogue on International Cooperation which took place in Vienna on 13 September 2023.
75 non-governmental stakeholders including members of the academia, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector, and 48 representatives from governments, international and regional organizations contributed to the fruitful discussions relating to the practical implementation of Article 27 of UNTOC.
The panel discussions with experts from civil society and the private sector focused on two key issues: the protection of human rights in the context of law enforcement cooperation, and the cooperation between law enforcement authorities and communication service providers.
One of the panellists, Ms. Noor Fatima from the Research Society of International Law, highlighted that to meet current challenges national legislation needs to be adapted. “With emerging technologies facilitating law enforcement actions, the protection of privacy and vulnerable populations should also be attached importance,” she emphasized.
Another panellist, Mr. Fausto Carbajal Glass from the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, shared the same concern by stressing the need to keep a balance between using technology to fight transnational organized crime and ensuring the protection of human rights. “We need adequate legal frameworks, and oversight mechanisms are necessary to ensure responsible and ethical use of technology in law enforcement efforts,” he emphasized. In the same context, Mr. David Williams from Microsoft underlined that "Governments and law enforcement agencies must update laws and policies that support the use of modern technology. They should address both the ethical and responsible use of technology and in particular artificial intelligence."
Civil society can play a key role in assisting law enforcement efforts through their resources, knowledge and data. “Leveraging civil society's ability to gather information from service providers and utilize political freedoms to access data effectively can be helpful,” stressed Mr. Jean-Paul Laborde from the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC). At the same time, he added, “Service providers can play a role in connecting civil society and law enforcement.”
Mr. Marc Vinckeveugel from Meta, explained that although private chats such as the ones on Whatsapp are fully encrypted, “Other safety measures and online reporting mechanisms can help identify potential coordinated criminal activities. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and object detection capabilities can spot coordinated inauthentic behavior or accounts advertising illegal services.” In fact, “Reporting and disrupting such activities are also important actions,” Mr. Vinckeveugel emphasized.
AI and new technologies could be used to strengthen the effectiveness of law enforcement. “Data, AI and technological advancements are transforming the landscape of law enforcement, peace and security,” highlighted Ms. Anna Alvazzi del Frate from KENNIS Knowledge for Safety and Good Governance. “A multi-stakeholder approach, involving governments, corporations, civil society, and experts, is necessary to responsibly develop and implement AI tools in law enforcement, in which civil society can play a role of complementing, verifying, advancing methodology and ensuring broad ownership of data and their use,” Ms. Alvazzi del Frate further stressed.
The Constructive Dialogue on International Cooperation was convened following the conclusion of the 14th meeting of the Working Group on International Cooperation. It offered a forum for non-governmental stakeholders to be briefed on the status of the UNTOC Review Mechanism and contribute with tangible examples and practical inputs for stronger implementation of the international cooperation provisions of UNTOC.
As pointed out by Mr. Thomas Burrows, Chair of the Constructive Dialogue and Chair of the UNTOC COP Working Group on International Cooperation, “The engagement with civil society has a great deal to offer to the parties to UNTOC in implementing the Convention.”
The Chair’s summary of the discussions of the Constructive Dialogue and the written contributions from participants will be published on the webpage of the 2023 Constructive Dialogue on International Cooperation, as they become available.