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Transnational crime threatens global stability, head of UN agency warns

Transnational crime threatens global stability, head of UN agency warns

The tremendous growth in transnational crime over the past 25 years - due in large part to globalization - threatens regional and global stability, the head of the United Nations crime prevention organization warned today at a meeting in Canberra, Australia.

Delivering the keynote address at a symposium organized by the Australian Institute of Criminology, Pino Arlacchi said the opportunities for globalization had not only been taken up by legitimate enterprises, but had been embraced by organized crime groups that engage in illegal activities or deal in illicit goods.

"Organized crime, except for some cross-border smuggling, used to be a largely local and later national affair," the head of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) told the Fourth National Outlook Symposium on Crime in Australia. "Today it is a truly transnational phenomenon and is a subject of international concern. The risk to regional and even global stability is a very real one."

According to Mr. Arlacchi, transnational organized crime groups are, in many ways, profiting the most from globalization. "Legitimate business is still constrained by domestic and host country laws and regulations," he said. "Transnational crime syndicates and networks manage, with the help of corruption, blackmail and intimidation, to use the open markets and open societies to their full advantage."

Warning that the scope of transnational crime and its rapid growth were grounds for serious concern, the ODCCP chief said that the response now taking shape was cause for optimism. Last December, 124 countries had signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and since then additional international legal instruments have been prepared, he said, noting that the UN General Assembly was also proceeding with negotiations on a convention against corruption.

The commitment to fighting organized crime "will only persist if it reflects a commitment by the public to ensure that we do not move towards a world in which democracy and human security are undermined by these new threats," Mr. Arlacchi concluded.