Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Welcome remarks addressing Civil Society ahead of the 14th UN Crime Congress

   3 March 2021

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to welcome the civil society representatives who will be attending the Fourteenth UN Crime Congress in just a few days’ time.

I thank you for your commitment.

I am someone who has worked with civil society throughout my career and I have great respect for their efforts and contributions.

I would especially like to thank the NGO Alliance for the close collaboration with UNODC during the preparations for this Congress.

You helped to ensure that civil society members were kept up-to-date about the preparatory process, which also facilitated coordination between diverse NGOs from around the world.

In this regard, I am very pleased that a joint statement will be delivered by the Chair of the NGO Alliance, on behalf of civil society, during the high-level segment of the Crime Congress.

The hybrid format of the Congress has enabled us to ensure inclusive and broad participation in the face of continuing challenges posed by the global pandemic. More than 400 NGO delegates and experts are registered to contribute to the proceedings.

Some 50 ancillary meetings are being organized directly by, or together with, civil society organizations, in addition to dozens of additional events and meetings with academic institutions and universities. Moreover, civil society representatives will be taking part in a number of workshops and professional meetings.

UNODC will also be hosting a virtual “NGO lounge” from Kyoto, which will provide an additional platform for NGO participants to meet each other and discuss Congress-related topics.

As you know, the Fourteenth Crime Congress was originally scheduled to take place last April, to bring the world together at the very start of an ambitious Decade of Action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Congress now comes at a uniquely challenging time. The focus on promoting crime prevention, criminal justice, and the rule of law as drivers of sustainable development is more important than ever, and countries need to come together more than ever.

The pandemic has reversed decades of progress in reducing poverty around the world. Young people, women and marginalized groups have been hardest hit.

The World Bank estimates that there were up to 124 million “new poor” last year due to COVID. Now, according to the preliminary forecast for 2021, between 143 and 163 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty.

Societies made poorer and more fragile by the pandemic are also more vulnerable to transnational organized crime, to drugs, corruption and terrorism.

A successful Crime Congress can make a decisive contribution to addressing these challenges. I encourage our NGO participants to provide their experiences and expertise to enrich the dialogue in Kyoto.

The NGO Alliance remains one of UNODC`s main civil society partners on issues related to crime prevention and criminal justice.

Strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones, across all areas of UNODC’s mandates, are recognized as key enablers in our new corporate strategy for 2021 to 2025.

We are counting on civil society to work with us to help Member States take forward the commitments made at the Crime Congress, to advance crime prevention and criminal justice to build fairer, more inclusive, and more resilient societies, helping the world recover better and get back on track to achieving the SDGs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Fourteenth UN Crime Congress is taking place under challenging circumstances, and this has unfortunately placed limits on the possibilities for us to meet in person.

UNODC has invested heavily in developing a platform to enable virtual participation of civil society organizations and all stakeholders, and I am proud of the results.

I believe that with the hybrid format, we can increase possibilities for more inclusive participation and facilitate even broader outreach. In this regard, I fully appreciate your efforts and willingness to engage virtually with events taking place in another time zone.

With the Kyoto Congress, we have the opportunity to show our commitment to addressing crime prevention and criminal justice challenges that affect the daily lives of people around the world.

We can also set and showcase new standards for the organization of large-scale international meetings, and for leveraging technology to advance multilateral cooperation.

UNODC will continue to do its utmost to enable your productive and constructive engagement, to ensure a successful Kyoto Crime Congress, and to work towards the 30th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in May, where Member States will translate Congress outcomes and recommendations into effective action.

Let me once again thank the NGO Alliance and all civil society organizations and individual experts joining today, for your support for the Congress.

Thank you, and see you in Kyoto!