Director General/Executive Director
Ladies and gentlemen,
Transnational organized crime endangers the security, safety, development and health of our societies - all for cold-blooded profit.
Criminal networks are smuggling desperate migrants and subjecting them to violence, abuse and deadly peril.
Organized crime groups are trafficking and exploiting vulnerable women, men and children.
We have witnessed the irreparable destruction of our precious cultural heritage as criminals and terrorists loot landmark sites and archaeological treasures, and use the proceeds to fund further acts of terrorism.
New information and communications technologies are exploited for nefarious purposes, increasing the criminal capability of traditional organized crime groups, drug traffickers and terrorists.
Cyberattacks are victimizing ordinary people and businesses, and endangering critical infrastructure and vital services.
Cryptocurrencies are being used to move criminal proceeds as law enforcement struggles to keep pace.
Such crimes flourish in times of conflict and instability.
Criminals exploit inequality and vulnerability, and profit from gaps in development and enforcement.
At the same time, their actions exacerbate insecurity, hinder resolution and perpetuate violence, as we have seen with the intensifying nexus of organized crime and terrorism.
The international community is dealing with an ever-growing number of formidable challenges, while drawing on ever-diminishing resources to address them.
But there is nothing inevitable or invincible about transnational organized crime. We must engage all of our institutions if we hope to defeat the criminals and protect the defenceless.
This was the wisdom of Giovanni Falcone, who was murdered twenty-five years ago for showing the truth of these words, for demonstrating that the Mafia could be defeated through painstaking investigation, cooperation across borders, and unwavering and uncompromising integrity.
His insights inspired countries to take action with the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, or Palermo Convention, which remains our best and most effective means to carry on his life's work.
UNTOC and its protocols encourage and support international cooperation against organized crime, using many of the tools Giovanni Falcone developed, from financial investigation and witness protection to seizing illicit assets to deprive and weaken transnational organized crime networks.
A quarter of a century after his assassination, we need renewed commitment and common purpose more than ever to counter evolving and emerging forms of organized crime.
As Giovanni Falcone saw so clearly, this means building capacities and investing resources in this fight.
That includes creating and strengthening transparent and accountable institutions of law enforcement and justice, to be sure. But we cannot stop there.
We need to work together to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and foster the rule of law, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
We need to invest in prevention and education, and involve young people and civil society.
As the guardian of the Palermo Convention, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime continues to strive to live up to the legacy of Giovanni Falcone as we support Member States to pursue global action and stop criminals from preying on our societies.
I hope today's event will serve as a reminder and encouragement to further reinforce international cooperation under UNTOC, to use the tools it provides more effectively, and to review and advance implementation in a spirit of shared responsibility.