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UN crime meeting opens with focus on threats posed by transnational organized crime

Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov.
UN Photo/Pierre Albouy
Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov.

UN crime meeting opens with focus on threats posed by transnational organized crime

A United Nations meeting on crime prevention today heard how transnational organized crime was a challenge and growing threat to sustainable development and the rule of law.

“As we move towards 2015, and taking stock of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is a growing recognition that transnational threats, such as organized crime and illicit trafficking, violence and corruption are major impediments to their achievement,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, said at the opening in Vienna, Austria, of the 21st Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

“Today, the rule of law, good governance, human rights, and economic development are all threatened by transnational organized crime,” he added.

The MDGs are made up of eight globally agreed targets for halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of diseases, promoting access to education and improving health care by 2015.

Acting as the governing body of UNODC, the Commission guides UN activities in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, and also reviews UN standards and norms in this area. The theme of this year’s session is violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families, but it will also discuss State oversight in civilian private security services, countering maritime piracy, and the treatment of prisoners, amongst other issues.

In his remarks, Mr. Fedotov said weak and fragile countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of transnational organized crime.

“These countries, some devastated by war, others making the complex journey towards democracy, are preyed upon by crime,” he said. “As a result, organized crime flourishes, successes in development are reversed, opportunities for social and economic advancement are lost.”

To change this situation, Mr. Fedotov said anti-crime activities had to be integrated into the sustainable development agenda, as well as programmes of action for the rule of law, which formed the foundation for human rights.

He stressed that UNODC's strength derives from its long experience of working with partners and nations on drugs, crime and terrorism. However, Mr. Fedotov also said that the solid foundation for UNODC's work came from the UN Conventions on drugs, crime and corruption – and called on all Member States to become parties and to implement the conventions.

In a message to the 21st Session, the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, noted that drugs and crime are an impediment to the social and economic development of countries. “When combined, these crimes generate enormous profits every year: not in the millions, not in the billions, but in the trillions of dollars,” he said in his message.

The 21st Session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is being attended by around 800 people, 111 states and 38 non-governmental organizations.