Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all for coming together today to commemorate 20 years of implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Your presence is a testament to the Convention’s global relevance and the continued commitment of States Parties to international cooperation in the fight against organized crime. This is something that no country can do alone, it has to be through collaboration.
But we need to find game changers. Technology could be one of them – for instance, to facilitate access to justice.
Since the Convention entered into force in 2003, it has attained nearly universal adherence.
The UNTOC family recently welcomed Bhutan as the 191st State Party.
Over the past two decades, we have seen increased harmonization of national legislation with the requirements of the Convention, which has also provided a sturdy legal basis for strengthening international cooperation.
The launch of the UNTOC Review Mechanism in 2020 is an important milestone.
It underscores the firm intention of States Parties to scale up their efforts to implement the Convention and its Protocols through concrete national measures, and to support each other in closing any remaining loopholes.
As we have just heard, the Review Mechanism will soon generate crucial data and observations that will help identify areas where targeted follow-up and reforms are needed to step up the fight against organized crime and enhance international cooperation.
This is critical, because transnational organized crime is constantly evolving. Indeed, criminals are very bright and they are always a step ahead of us.
Organized criminal groups are quick to exploit instability and crises, the shifting geopolitical landscape, and new technologies for illicit purposes.
International cooperation and coordinated cross-border responses are needed more than ever to tackle new threats such as cybercrime, crime that affects the environment, and trafficking in cultural property, among other crimes.
Recognizing that crime fuels instability and can be a driver of conflict, the Secretary-General has called for a New Agenda for Peace, which would reshape our responses to all forms of violence, including from criminal groups.
Organized crime will continue to evolve. I have no doubt that 20 years from now, we will face new varieties of crime, including ones we cannot even imagine today.
Fortunately, UNTOC provides a robust legal basis that is flexible enough for us to design effective national, regional and international responses to new threats.
The experience with UNTOC is also proving useful in the ongoing negotiations of a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As guardian of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, UNODC is committed to supporting States Parties to enhance its implementation – including by implementing outcomes of the UNTOC Review Mechanism.
The support we offer includes legislative and strategic responses, technical assistance and capacity building. All of our assistance is evidence-based, gender-sensitive and human rights-compliant.
In 2022, UNODC trained more than 250 policymakers from 47 countries on implementation of the Convention.
And since November 2021, we have supported 10 States and regional organizations in developing comprehensive national and regional strategies to counteract organized crime. So far, Chile and Bosnia and Herzegovina have adopted national strategies.
Especially in today’s uncertain times, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, its Protocols and Review Mechanism are powerful tools for defending States and societies from the devastating impacts of organized crime.
The Convention is fully in line with the New Vision for the Rule of Law set forth in Our Common Agenda, which puts people at the center of criminal justice.
Dignity and human rights must be respected, and access to justice and equality before the law must be ensured to everyone.
In September the Minister of Justice of Italy will host an international conference in Palermo to mark the date the Convention entered into force, which I will be very honored to co-chair.
Today’s discussions help lay the ground for that event, which will take a more in-depth look at what we have learned from our experience with UNTOC over the past 20 years, and how we can continue to leverage this powerful instrument in the future.