Director General/Executive Director
Allow me to begin by thanking the President of the General Assembly for his leadership in bringing us together today. And my sincere thanks to the Permanent Missions of Qatar, Thailand, Italy, Mexico and Morocco for proposing this important debate.
As other speakers have mentioned, the Secretary-General's Synthesis Report and the report of the Open Working Group have confirmed that access to justice and promoting safe, peaceful and inclusive societies, as well as strong institutions, are essential to sustainable development.
These are not abstract concepts, but necessary enablers and outcomes of sustainable development.
Global progress has been made in terms of reducing violent crime; however, homicide levels in low and lower-middle income countries have increased by 10 per cent over the last decade.
In 2013, the homicide rate in these countries was on average 2.5 times the rate in high-income countries.
Reducing crime and violence and ensuring the rule of law are manifestly important to the everyday lives of people - to protect the vulnerable from exploitation, stop corruption from eroding public services, and free young people from the downward spiral of poverty, drugs, crime and violence.
As part of integrated UN system efforts, UNODC stands ready to support implementation of a transformative post-2015 development agenda that promotes health, security, justice and the rule of law, while addressing the factors that undermine them, namely crime, drugs, terrorism and corruption.
Such a response requires comprehensive, long-term crime prevention strategies and establishing a culture of lawfulness.
It relies on courts that are efficient, effective and accessible, and law enforcement agencies that keep communities safe from crime and violence, while protecting the rights of people.
It depends on criminal justice systems that assist and protect victims and witnesses of crime; that recognize the special needs of women and children; and that offer alternatives to incarceration and promote social reintegration, which can also help to counter the appeal of violent extremism.
UNODC's integrated country, regional and global programmes promote effective, rights-based crime prevention and criminal justice responses to address these challenges.
Our broad mandate includes stopping human traffickers and migrant smugglers, as well as going after drug lords. It encompasses promoting health and alternative livelihoods.
It involves battling corruption, illicit financial flows, money laundering and terrorist financing.
It includes confronting emerging and re-emerging crimes, including wildlife and forest crime, cybercrime, piracy and trafficking in fraudulent medicines, all of which hinder sustainable development.
Our work is based on globally agreed frameworks, among them the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, the Convention against Corruption, the international drug control conventions, the universal legal instruments against terrorism and UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice.
While much remains to be done for Member States to effectively implement their commitments, these frameworks provide a sound basis for addressing challenges to the rule of law and justice, strengthening institutions and promoting international cooperation in support of sustainable, equitable development.
There are two elements that are essential to the attaining these goals.
Namely, we need genuine ownership on the part of States, which in turn must be underpinned by clear, meaningful targets that can be agreed globally, and customized at the national level.
We also need to be able to measure progress if countries are to uphold their commitments.
Therefore, strengthening national statistical systems so that States can produce high-quality crime and criminal justice data should be another priority.
This remains a challenging task, and the 13th Crime Congress in Doha this April offers a key opportunity to advance the discussion.
As this event makes clear, the focus of the Crime Congress on the role of crime prevention and criminal justice in addressing social and economic challenges and promote the rule of law, is truly well-timed.
The Crime Congress represents the world's largest gathering of governments, civil society and experts in the areas of crime prevention and criminal justice.
For 60 years, the Congresses have been instrumental in shaping policies and strengthening international cooperation to confront crime and promote the rule of law.
In 2015, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and work towards the September Summit on the post-2015 development agenda, the 13th Crime Congress is well placed to contribute to the global discussion on the linkages between crime prevention, criminal justice and sustainable development.
In particular, the Congress could provide a forum for identifying priorities, and sharing national experiences and best practices in crime prevention and criminal justice.
This could include discussion of current efforts to monitor the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice on the national and international levels, which in turn can help feed into the General Assembly's deliberations for September.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the Secretary-General emphasized in his Synthesis Report, we must "invest in the unfinished work of the MDGs, and use them as a springboard into the future we want - a future free from poverty and built on human rights, equality and sustainability".
The September Summit, where States will agree on a vision of development that will guide the work of the UN and many others for years to come, is an historic opportunity.
We must take it.
Thank you, and I look forward to continuing this very important discussion in Doha.