The Commission guides the activities of the United Nations in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. It also reviews United Nations standards and norms in this area, including their use and application by Member States. It takes action through resolutions and decisions.
The Commission was created in 1992 by the Economic and Social Council as one of its functional commissions (resolution 1992/1), upon request of the General Assembly. The Council has established the Commission's mandates and priorities, which include international action to combat national and transnational crime, including organized crime, economic crime and money laundering; promoting the role of criminal law in protecting the environment; crime prevention in urban areas, including juvenile crime and violence; and improving the efficiency and fairness of criminal justice administration systems (resolution 1992/22).
The Commission acts as the governing body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It approves the budget of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Fund, which provides resources for promoting technical assistance in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice worldwide.
The Commission provides substantive and organizational direction for the quinquennial United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. It also considers the outcome of the congresses and takes decisions on appropriate follow-up measures.
The Commission also maintains links to the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network, which supports the efforts the United Nations in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice and contributes to the work of the Commission.
The political agreement to establish the Commission derived from a ministerial meeting held in Versailles in 1991. It was preceded by a more technically focused Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, formed in 1971 to replace an earlier expert advisory committee and tackle a broadened scope of UN interest in criminal justice policy.