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UN forum stresses need to adapt crime-fighting strategies to changing realities

UN forum stresses need to adapt crime-fighting strategies to changing realities

Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UNODC
A United Nations conference on crime has concluded with a call for Member States to adapt their criminal justice systems to changing times, including through the use of new technologies and looking for ways to combat emerging threats such as cyber- and environment-related crime.

In a declaration adopted at the 12th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held from 12 to 19 April in Salvador, Brazil, delegates from over 100 countries also underlined the necessity of respecting and protecting human rights in the prevention of crime and the administration of criminal justice.

“As human beings, as well as members of the community of civilized nations, we have a shared responsibility to place human rights at the heart of the justice system,” said Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

He noted that there can be no security, no development without justice, stating that “crime prevention and criminal justice are not ends in themselves: they create safer and richer societies.”

Member States also declared that they are “greatly concerned” by the negative impact of organized crime on human rights, the rule of law, security and development, as well as by its links with other criminal and, in some cases, terrorist activities.

“Organized crime has become a business with macro-economic dimensions, comparable to the national income of many countries and the turnover of the world’s largest corporations,” noted Mr. Costa.

In light of the transnational nature of organized crime, Member States called for greater international cooperation, including mutual legal assistance and information sharing, to disrupt illicit activity and bring criminals to justice.

They also stressed the need to make more effective use of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was adopted in the Italian city of Palermo a decade ago.

State parties to the treaty commit themselves to taking a series of measures against transnational organized crime, including the creation of domestic criminal offences, the adoption of new and sweeping frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance and law enforcement cooperation, and the promotion of training and technical assistance for building or upgrading the necessary capacity of national authorities.