VIENNA, 23 April 2007 (UNODC) - The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) urged UN Member States on Monday to develop a coherent blueprint to combat the threat posed by organized crime.
Speaking at the opening of the 16 th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said countries lacked sufficient information on criminal activities such as money-laundering, corruption, identity-theft, counterfeiting, cyber-crime and environmental destruction.
"Despite the fact that trans-national crime is one of the greatest threats to security, we operate in an information fog," Mr Costa said. "We do not know the scope of the threats we face and we cannot gauge global crime trends."
He urged countries to track organized crime more effectively and provide information of the type already collated by UNODC on illicit drugs so that governments have the data they need to generate an effective global response.
Underlining the importance of working together, he said: "These are threats that no state can fight alone."
He noted that powerful international instruments such as the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime are still not being fully applied. "Its teeth are only starting to nibble on extradition, mutual legal assistance and cross-border judicial cooperation."
Developments on the United Nations Convention against Corruption were more encouraging, with promising government-sponsored initiatives underway. But more work is needed.
"I am pleased that implementation of the anti-corruption Convention is now recognised by multilateral banks and financial institutions as the unifying legal instrument to stop corruption and promote integrity in governance," Mr Costa said.
Because the General Assembly has placed drugs, crime and terrorism among the UN's priorities for 2008-09, UNODC is gearing up its capacity to deliver technical assistance to Member States.
"We are aiming to position the Office at the intersection of security and development, with criminal justice as the lynchpin," the UNODC Executive Director said. "After all, there cannot be security without development and vice versa. For both to be sustainable, there must be justice and the rule of law."
Mr Costa urged Member States to support UNODC's newly launched Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, known as UN.GIFT. "We are developing concrete operational initiatives to make a real difference in the lives of those who are most vulnerable to, and affected by, this crime."
The Crime Commission takes place from 23 to 27 April in Vienna.
For the full text of Mr. Costa's remarks, click here .
Audio available here .