Countries ignorant about threats posed by transnational crime – UN agency chief

23 April 2007

Law enforcement authorities around the world “operate in an information fog” about transnational organized crime, ignorant of the scope of the threats faced and unable to gauge global trends, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned today, calling on UN Member States to develop a coherent blueprint to deal with the problem.

Law enforcement authorities around the world “operate in an information fog” about transnational organized crime, ignorant of the scope of the threats faced and unable to gauge global trends, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned today, calling on UN Member States to develop a coherent blueprint to deal with the problem.

Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told the opening of the annual session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, meeting in Vienna, that globalization meant activities ranging from money laundering and corruption to cyber-crime, identity theft and deliberate environmental destruction are “not threats that any State can fight alone.”

Mr. Costa urged Member States to track organized crime more effectively and provide more detailed information so that policy-makers have the necessary data to develop the most comprehensive response possible.

“While the building blocks of a global crime control regime are taking shape, the overall architecture needs to be made more explicit, coherent and results-oriented,” he said.

Instruments such as the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime had not reached their full potential, despite the fact there are now 132 parties to the pact.

“Its teeth are only starting to nibble on extradition, mutual legal assistance and cross-border judicial cooperation,” and no agreement has been reached yet on monitoring mechanisms or reporting obligations, he said.

More generally, although there is widespread anecdotal evidence about anti-crime measures, such as the indictment of corrupt public officials and the breaking up of human trafficking rings, there have been few attempts to systematize the information on a global scale.

“At times we cannot even define the enemy we face or assess its strength. We just see the tips of icebergs, or, if you allow me another metaphor, the shadow of dangerous entities. But the actual objects – whether submerged in murky waters or casting dark shadows – remain unfathomable.”

But he said he was encouraged by recent initiatives relating to the UN Convention against Corruption, with many promising ideas sponsored by governments as well as multilateral banks and financial institutions.

The Commission’s session runs until Friday and will consider a broad range of issues, including criminal justice responses to urban crime, combating the sexual exploitation of children, and strengthening international cooperation against illegal trafficking in timber.

 

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