Remarks on behalf of the UNODC Executive Director

Statement to the Third Committee of the General Assembly, 73rd session

                                                              New York, 4 October 2018 


Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Executive Director Yury Fedotov regrets that his schedule did not allow him to be here today.

On his behalf I have the honour of speaking to this Committee on international efforts to address crime prevention, criminal justice, drug control, corruption and terrorism, and the support the UN Office on Drugs and Crime provides to Member States.

The Secretary-General succinctly outlined many of the challenges we face in his remarks to the 73rd session just last week.

The rule of law is being undermined. Terrorism, fed by the root causes of radicalization and violent extremism, is ever more interlinked with organized crime and the trafficking of people, drugs and arms as well as corruption.

Technology is being misused by terrorists and organized criminal networks, and for sexual exploitation and abuse.

These threats are borderless and leave no country or region unaffected.

As the Secretary-General said, we have solid foundations for international cooperation, and we must restore trust and reinvigorate our multilateral action.

Commitment to agreed frameworks and international cooperation, based on the principle of shared responsibility, is absolutely vital.

We have seen time and again that criminals and terrorists exploit gaps in capacities and coordination, and they profit from instability and weakened rule of law.

UNODC seeks to advance networked, integrated responses, based on the conventions against transnational organized crime and corruption, the drug control conventions, the global counter-terrorism instruments, and UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice. 

Our normative, analytical and operational support to Member States puts prevention at the fore and aims at mainstreaming gender and human rights, while contributing to efforts to achieve targets under multiple Sustainable Development Goals, notably Goal 16 on justice and institutions.

Prevention is essential to addressing challenges across our mandates, whether we are talking about strengthening the resilience of young people to drugs, crime and violence, prison reforms to stop radicalization to violent extremism or reducing corruption risks.

All of UNODC's work, both through headquarters in Vienna and our network of field offices, prioritizes partnerships with UN entities, as well as with other international and regional organizations, business and civil society. 

Together with WHO, UNODC works in more than 30 low- and middle-income countries to enhance drug prevention and treatment strategies.

We are supporting Member States in improving access to controlled medicines for pain relief, while preventing diversion and abuse.

This is an important priority that our Executive Director addressed last week in the context of the high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases. 

UNODC is scaling up HIV/AIDS prevention treatment and care services for people who inject drugs as well as in prisons, in line with the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners.

Our Office is implementing a strategy to help governments to comprehensively respond to the continuing opioid crisis, including through international law enforcement operations to disrupt trafficking, rational prescribing of medicines, prevention and treatment programmes, and early warning.

We are working closely with Afghanistan and partners to strengthen regional and inter-regional responses to security, development and health challenges posed by record opium production and cultivation.

In Colombia, UNODC is supporting the government to build peace through alternative development. By August, we had reached and enrolled more than 77,000 families in initiatives for voluntary coca eradication.

These efforts are just a few examples of the work we are doing to assist countries to implement the outcome document of the 2016 UNGASS on the world drug problem.

UNODC is also supporting preparations by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for the March 2019 ministerial segment, which is being held in view of the target date of the 2009 political declaration and plan of action.

We look forward to the active contribution and engagement of all Member States in these discussions, which will provide further guidance for our efforts to promote evidence- and rights-based responses to the world drug problem.

At same time, our Office is assisting the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in preparations for the Fourteenth Crime Congress in Kyoto in 2020, which will focus on advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law to achieve the SDGs.

This year, we marked the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Corruption, including through a high-level meeting with the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General in New York.

This was a timely event, with the African Union declaring 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption Year, in clear recognition of the fact that tackling corruption and recovering stolen assets play a critical role in fostering sustainable development, securing peace and countering violent extremism.

Terrorist threats continue to evolve even as the international community has succeeded in pushing back the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

This week in Vienna, Executive Director Fedotov and the head of the UN Office for Counter-Terrorism, Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov briefed Member States on the coordinated assistance our two offices provide. They also signed a framework agreement to further advance our cooperation.

Since UNODC last reported to the Committee, our Office has further strengthened technical assistance to Member States, including to address returning foreign terrorist fighters and terrorist benefiting from transnational organized crime.

The importance of addressing interlinked challenges of terrorism and organized crime has been repeatedly recognized by the Security Council and General Assembly.

This includes countering money laundering and terrorist financing; cybercrime; trafficking in firearms, drugs, natural resources, cultural heritage and other illicit goods; and migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

Many of these challenges will be addressed later this month in Vienna at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention against Organized Crime and its protocols on human trafficking, migrant smuggling and firearms.

We hope Member States will be able to use this session to advance efforts to review implementation of this keystone convention.

UNODC is continuing its comprehensive assistance to prevent and tackle human trafficking and migrant smuggling, including through support for the Global Compact on Migration to be adopted in December, the ICAT inter-agency coordination group against trafficking and the Blue Heart Campaign.

We will also be launching the latest Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, mandated by the General Assembly. This year's report will expand on the 2016 report to examine trafficking patterns in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.

Moreover, our Office will soon present the latest edition of the Homicide report, which will seek to shed further light on challenges of crime and violence, including violence against women and femicide.

Distinguished delegates,

UNODC strives to deliver on your expectations in all these areas with accountability, efficiency and effectiveness, in close coordination with our partners.

We are also fully engaged in supporting the Secretary-General's ambitious UN system reforms.

At the same time, our Office continues to struggle with a severe lack of stable and predictable resources.

Member States have recognized the importance of UNODC's mandates with voluntary contributions totaling 351.3 million dollars last year, which represents a 17 per cent increase over 2016.

However, unearmarked general-purpose funds are predicted to account for less than one per cent of our total income for the 2018-2019 biennium.

UNODC's share of the total UN regular budget also amounts to less than one per cent.

This precarious financial situation, in a time of ever-increasing resource constraints, has left core UNODC support to Member States vulnerable.

We appeal to all Member States to provide UNODC with predictable and stable funding so we can respond to increasing demands for technical assistance, in the priority areas that you have identified.  

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished delegates,

The mandate of UNODC covers many acute and urgent challenges to peace and security, human rights and development.

We rely on your engagement and commitment to common action, and you can count on UNODC's support.

Thank you for your attention.


For further information, please contact:

Sonya Yee  
Speechwriter and Spokesperson, UNODC  
Telephone: (+43 1) 26060-4990  
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990  
Email: sonya.yee[at]