UN anti-crime tsar warns of global reach of organized crime

16 April 2009

The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) cautioned today that organized crime “has gone global,” posing a security threat to cities, countries and even entire regions.

In his opening remarks to the 18th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said that drug cartels are spreading violence in Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and West Africa. Collusion between insurgents and criminal groups is jeopardizing the stability of West Asia, the Andes and parts of Africa.

Kidnapping is widespread around the world, he added, with human trafficking also extending its global reach.

Blueprints for tackling organized crime, such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption, already exist, the Executive Director said.

But, he noted, “implementation has been patchy, there is almost no information on world crime and efforts to fight crime have been disjointed,” resulting in countries facing “a crime situation of their own making.”

Although the current financial crisis could exacerbate the situation, it could also provide an opportunity to end bank secrecy, close tax havens and boost regulation and compliance measures, he stressed.

States’ political will is “mightier than the greed and firepower of criminal groups,” Mr. Costa said, calling for stepped up global cooperation. “Working together does not mean surrendering sovereignty, it means defending it.”

The 40-member Commission – which will review methods of crime prevention and the bolstering of criminal justice, as well as ways to fight economic fraud and identity-related crime – will wrap up its session on 24 April.


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