Thank you for joining us for this presentation of the UNODC Strategic Vision for and with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Strategic Vision builds on UNODC’s three decades of partnership with the region, and represents a renewed pledge to work together towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by addressing the world drug problem; combatting transnational organized crime; countering corruption; and enhancing crime prevention and criminal justice.
I am very grateful to Ambassador Jaramillo, USG Bahous and ASG Jenca for joining us today. Our sister agencies UN Women and DPPA are important partners of UNODC in supporting Member States to strive for greater justice.
I asked Sima to honour us with her presence today, and with UN Women’s support for the Vision, as I strongly believe that the UNODC has a special responsibility to advance gender mainstreaming and the empowerment of women and girls.
As the UN entity mandated with strengthening criminal justice responses to crime, drugs, corruption, and terrorism, UNODC assists Member States in addressing gender-based violence, human trafficking, and other crimes that impact women and girls.
Law enforcement and criminal justice sectors remain heavily male-dominated all over the world.
As a long-standing partner and provider of technical assistance to these institutions, UNODC is in a unique position to advocate for the representation and leadership of women in these sectors, and by doing so, help to improve access to justice and justice responses for all people.
I am pleased to note that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have been our allies in our efforts to address issues of gender equality and empowerment, and in tackling threats of gender-based violence.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November was established in honour of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic.
With the support of the UNODC-INEGI Centre of Excellence on crime statistics in Mexico, UNODC and UN Women developed a new statistical framework for measuring femicide that was endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission in March.
Preventing the gender-related killings of women and girls is an urgent priority in all parts of the world, and UNODC research shows that femicide is rising in all sub-regions of the Americas. The new framework will help to ensure that femicide victims can be counted, and that prevention efforts are appropriately targeted.
Men and boys in the region also face particular challenges, including violence linked to gangs and organized crime.
The 2019 UNODC Global Study on Homicide found that the male homicide rate in the Americas is almost 10 times that of females.
Gangs are a key driver of high homicide rates in parts of Latin America.
Some 75 percent of homicides were committed with a firearm, compared to just over 50 percent in the rest of the world.
Men between the ages of 15 to 29 years are particularly affected by violence in areas marked by criminal activity.
Latin America and the Caribbean is a young region. Projections suggest there will be some 12 million more people between the ages of 15 and 49 by 2040. This boost to the working-age population can further accelerate economic growth.
But in order to realize this opportunity, we need to do more to tackle crime and violence, and address root causes, including low levels of education and high unemployment.
Prolonged global crises are compounding the challenges we face.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean warned at the end of April that the economic slowdown in the region is deepening, with the war in Ukraine negatively impacting global growth and trade dynamics.
ECLAC estimates average regional growth of 1.8 percent for 2022, accompanied by higher inflation and slower job recovery.
These conditions, coming on top of two years of development setbacks due to the global pandemic, threaten to further heighten inequalities and insecurities that enable crime, corruption, and violence to flourish.
The UNODC Strategic Vision for Latin America and the Caribbean thus comes at a time when we need bold action.
More accountable, transparent institutions and responsive, people-centred law enforcement and criminal justice systems are key elements in addressing structural inequalities and achieving safety, security, human rights, and development.
The countries of the region have been our close partners in developing this document, which tailors implementation of the UNODC corporate strategy to regional needs and priorities.
It is the result of an inclusive consultation process involving Member States’ institutions, civil society, academia, regional organizations, UN system entities, and international financial institutions.
To be the partner Latin America and the Caribbean need, UNODC also needs to be fit for purpose. The Strategic Vision is therefore helping us to maximize our operational impact in the region, including by optimizing our field presence.
I had the honour of launching the Strategic Vision in Colombia earlier this year, in February, and we began its implementation from day one with the reprofiling of our office in Bogota into the Regional Office for the Andean Region and Southern Cone.
This new Office oversees and coordinates our work in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, pooling resources and streamlining resource mobilization.
The regional office in Bogota joins our regional office in Panama, which covers Central America and the Caribbean.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Ambassador Jaramillo for the strong and continuous support provided by our host country for UNODC’s work in the sub-region.
Through the office in Panama and the rest of our field network, as well as our global programmes in Vienna, UNODC delivered 102 million US dollars in the region in 2020-2021, despite pandemic restrictions.
The new Strategic Vision and Regional Office are building on these results we have achieved together, in promoting alternative development and food security; undertaking judicial reform; and countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as cybercrime and money laundering; and much more.
UNODC field offices in the region are aligning existing work to the Strategic Vision, and we are consulting with our Member States to identify national priorities and elaborate action plans for implementation.
Our Centre of Excellence with INEGI in Mexico is providing support to countries in the region to improve data collection on crime and criminal justice.
At the same time, we have reorganized at headquarters in Vienna, in line with our corporate strategy objectives.
Our new Border Management Branch groups the work of our biggest programmes addressing maritime crime, container control, airport security, crimes that affect the environment, and criminal investigation and justice along drug trafficking routes.
The Branch just moved the global coordinator of the AIRCOP programme to Panama, to help ensure our work responds to realities on the ground. This field-centred approach also informs the targeted support we will be starting soon in Haiti.
Moreover, we are stepping up our anti-corruption support in the region, using the UN Convention against Corruption and its review mechanism as an entry point.
We have deployed a new team of regional advisors based in Mexico to provide tailored technical assistance, and we are enhancing knowledge and information-sharing through regional platforms, and through the new GlobE network for cross-border law enforcement cooperation.
I am also pleased to note that we are partnering with DPPA to further strengthen anti-corruption collaboration with UN Resident Coordinators and Country Teams, in support of the UN Common Position on Corruption.
Across all of these efforts, we are promoting inclusion, and empowering women and youth.
Yesterday, I had the honour of opening the General Assembly high-level debate on mainstreaming youth in crime prevention.
The Strategic Vision represents an important means to engage young people in Latin America and the Caribbean as agents of change in their communities. We are further supporting these efforts through our global GRACE initiative for anti-corruption education and youth integrity.
By curbing crime, drugs, violence, and corruption, we can enable the region’s youth to access opportunities, and empower women and girls to achieve their full potential.
This is just a brief overview of activities UNODC is undertaking to translate the Strategic Vision for Latin America and the Caribbean into concrete outcomes.
I welcome your ideas for how we can advance these efforts together, as well as your ideas for new actions and projects to respond to the region’s priorities.
Thank you and I look forward to your interventions.