Fight against drugs and crime in south-east Europe gets boost with UN pact
Tackling the challenges posed by illicit drugs and organized crime in south-east Europe is one of the major priorities of a new agreement boosting cooperation between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).
South-East Europe has become a low-crime region after the conflict and violence of the 1990s, according to a UNODC report published this month, entitled “Crime and Its Impact on the Balkans.” However, it adds that the region remains vulnerable due to enduring links between business, politics and organized crime.
The memorandum of understanding signed today in Vienna between the two bodies lays out the basis for technical assistance, as well as facilitating the sharing of knowledge and best practices in order to build security and the rule of law in the region.
Franz Baumann, UNODC’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, said the pact will pave the way for closer integration of south-east Europe with the rest of the continent.
Among other things, the memorandum aims to strengthen national criminal justice systems and the protection of human rights, while promoting the independence and integrity of institutions by tackling corruption.
It will also include efforts to address money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, as well as asset recovery, in addition to support for the prevention and treatment of drug-related problems, including the spread of HIV/AIDS.
A number of joint activities are planned between UNODC and the RCC – a body launched in February to succeed the Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe – including in the areas of training, research and awareness raising.