Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to welcome all of you to the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
At a time of continuing uncertainty, it is no small feat that we are able to meet at the Kyoto Congress, in person and virtually, to strengthen global cooperation against crime.
We are here because of our sense of purpose and our commitment to shared solutions.
The commitment of our host country Japan, which has worked with determination to hold this Congress under rigorous health and safety standards.
The commitment of our UNOV/UNODC staff, who are tirelessly supporting this important event across different time zones.
And the commitment of all of you, who understand that advancing crime prevention and criminal justice is key to a fairer COVID response and recovery and to getting us back on track towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
As our world suffers in this prolonged crisis, we are united in the urgency to protect people and leave no one behind.
We are in a race against time, as organized crime has spared no efforts in taking advantage of the crisis, from selling falsified vaccines, to exploiting those who have lost their livelihoods, and diverting stimulus funds.
With some 124 million people falling into poverty in 2020, growing inequalities are fueling instability and making the world even more vulnerable to crime, corruption, and terrorism.
It is the right time for the international community to come together, after painstaking preparation and extensive consultations, to adopt the Kyoto Declaration and step up shared responses to persistent and emerging crime challenges.
The discussions at the Kyoto Congress will help prepare the ground for effective action with a strong focus on prevention, and on integrated responses to tackle linkages between organized crime and terrorism, as well as fraud and corruption as key enablers of illicit activities.
We will strengthen the role of youth education and empowerment in building resilience to crime, and explore ways of harnessing data and new technologies to anticipate threats and develop evidence-based approaches.
The Congress is a unique forum to exchange valuable experience in research, law and policy development among countries, organizations, and experts.
These exchanges will draw upon the outcomes of the 13th Congress, including the results of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, which was launched in 2016 with support from Qatar.
The Programme’s activities promoting judicial integrity, prisoner rehabilitation, youth crime prevention through sport, and education for justice, have reached over 2.5 million people from more than 190 countries. To date, 84 countries have received direct technical assistance.
UNODC looks forward to advancing its engagement across these Programme areas.
UNODC’s new strategy for 2021 to 2025 will help us strengthen the interlinkages in our overall support to Member States, better leveraging our global expertise and wide field presence while always putting people at the centre, working with and for women and youth, investing in partnerships, and enhancing transparency and accountability.
To further tailor this approach, we have just launched our Strategic Vision for Africa to better empower African societies against drugs and crime, and we are developing a dedicated vision for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Equipped with these frameworks, UNODC will be fit for purpose to assist countries in operationalizing the outcomes of the Kyoto Congress.
We look forward to supporting the 30th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna in May to translate the Congress’ outcomes into action.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The preparatory process leading up to this Crime Congress was enriched through extensive regional dialogues and the strong engagement not only of governments, but also of experts, academia, civil society and youth.
Now that we have finally arrived at the end of the road to Kyoto, it is gratifying to see so many joining us here and around the world.
Such broad participation has been made possible thanks to the innovative hybrid format of the Congress and the use of a dedicated online event platform. The Congress platform has enabled more than 4,200 participants to join online, out of 5,600 registered for the meeting, setting a new standard for the organization of major international meetings.
The 14th UN Crime Congress is helping accelerate progress in the way we leverage technology for the benefit of a more inclusive multilateralism. UNODC is proud to support the international community in this endeavour.
Japan remains one of UNODC’s most generous supporters, and I am pleased that we have taken this journey together. I congratulate Minister Kamikawa of Japan on her election as President of the 14th UN Crime Congress, and I thank Qatar, the host of the 13th UN Crime Congress.
I wish you a fruitful meeting, as you write the next chapter in global cooperation for the advancement of crime prevention and criminal justice, towards more peaceful and inclusive societies.