Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Closing of the 14th UN Crime Congress

   12 March 2021


Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

My warmest congratulations to Minister Kamikawa and to all of you for the successful conclusion of this very special 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Yesterday, this conference observed a moment of silence on the tenth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. I join you in offering our host country and the people of Japan my heartfelt condolences for the lives lost, and my most profound sympathies for the many thousands who remain displaced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Over the past decade, Japan has led the world in disaster preparedness, showing how to build back better from unspeakable tragedy with determination and social solidarity.

This is a lesson all our societies can take to heart as we continue to deal with the global pandemic, and this resolve to learn from the past and invest in the future has informed the Kyoto Crime Congress and its Declaration.

We have united here to reject the divisions and inequalities COVID-19 has exposed and inflamed, to strengthen crime prevention and criminal justice to address the urgent needs of today as well as the challenges of tomorrow, and to advance the rule of law to leave no one behind.

As Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado said so eloquently at the opening session, it is rare that the world is presented with a chance to press the “reset” button. I am proud to say that the Kyoto Crime Congress has risen to the occasion and met this moment.

In convening the largest and most diverse forum of governments, international and regional organizations, civil society, experts and academia, we have taken determined steps towards more effective solutions.

The discussions taking place throughout this week have explored evidence-based strategies, identifying risk factors to reduce reoffending, youth engagement to strengthen resilience, harnessing new technologies, and much more. We marked International Women’s Day with events on expanding and increasing the role of women in justice and women’s access to justice.

The Kyoto Declaration adopted here acknowledges the increasingly transnational, organized and complex nature of crime, and the urgent need to adapt and renew support, most of all to developing countries, to enhance capacities of law enforcement and criminal justice institutions, and enable international cooperation.

The Declaration highlights the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships to address root causes and vulnerabilities, as well as the social and economic fallout from the pandemic. 

Governments recognize the importance of integrated solutions to confront the economic dimensions of crime, curb corruption, and return stolen assets; to mainstream gender and empower youth; to safeguard children and victims’ rights, promote equal access to justice, and improve prison conditions; to prevent terrorism and tackle new, emerging, and evolving forms of crime, from human trafficking, migrant smuggling, wildlife crime, and cybercrime, to the world drug problem and trafficking of firearms, cultural property, and falsified medical products.

I am honoured that you have reaffirmed in the Declaration the role of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as the leading UN entity supporting Member States in these efforts, and I welcome your call for sufficient, stable, and predictable funding to enable us to assist you effectively.

I am determined that with UNODC’s new strategy for 2021 to 2025 and regional strategic visions, we will live up to this responsibility and be the UNODC that the world needs.

It has been UNODC’s privilege to support Japan and Member States to hold the 14th Crime Congress in challenging global circumstances. Safety and innovation have guided our approach from the start, and the dedicated online event platform has enabled more than three-quarters of the 5,600 participants to join virtually and yet still interact, providing a rich experience and vibrant discussion.

The Crime Congress represents an ambitious undertaking in complex times, and we are gathering its lessons to share them with the wider UN and with you, to continue building and strengthening the multilateral dialogue at this crucial moment. 

All of this would not have been possible without my dear colleagues, under the guidance of the Executive Secretary of the 14th Crime Congress, John Brandolino, and Secretary Jo Dedeyne.

Working from Kyoto, Vienna and New York, separated by geography and time zones but united in spirit, the able staff of UNOV and UNODC have proved once again that the UN remains open for business, to deliver for the people who need us.

Excellencies, dear colleagues,

In this truly unprecedented time, you have shown the solidarity and shared responsibility needed to emerge from the current crisis with greater resilience, and greater justice for all.

UNODC looks forward to supporting you at the 30th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna in May to follow up on the Kyoto Declaration, as called for in the Declaration itself, and strengthen the global partnership.

I thank the government of Japan for hosting us, and I offer my congratulations once again to all of you. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay well.

Thank you.