Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/SHC/299
        3 October 2000
     Third Committee Continues to Study Crime, Criminal Justice, 
    International Drug Control
     

    NEW YORK, 2 October (UN Headquarters) -- In light of the large-scale projects the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) was carrying out, the representative of the Russian Federation urged that the Programme be supported from the regular United Nations budget.  That proposal came this morning as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met to continue its consideration of crime and criminal justice, as well as international drug control.

    The Russian representative pointed out that the UNDCP had helped to create a "security belt" around Afghanistan to control the illicit drug situation that was destabilizing the whole region.  Without effective countermeasures, Afghan narcotics had reached black markets in Central Asia, Russia, Europe and the United States. 

    A number of speakers pointed to the transnational nature of crime today.  The representative of Chile said that crime now transcended legal, geographical and ideological borders.  It affected areas outside the purview of single States.  That created complex issued which were difficult to control.  A number of representatives expressed support for the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three additional protocols, to be signed at the highest level in Palermo in December.

    The representative of China called for more funds to be allocated for crime prevention and criminal justice.  She pointed to the central and coordinating role the United Nations played in combating transnational organized crimes.  She also called for more resources to permit developing countries to mitigate the effects of transnational organized criminal activities.

    The representative of Senegal also called for greater attention to be focused on the African Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI).  He said the Institute could play a unique role in combating the traffic in small arms and light weapons in Africa.  In addition, the regional efforts of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) clearly warranted support.

    Also speaking this morning were the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, San Marino, Monaco, Algeria and Egypt.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue considering crime, criminal justice and international drug control.

    Committee Work Programme

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to take up the questions of crime prevention and criminal justice, and of international drug control. 

    Statements

    HAZA AL-QAHTANI (United Arab Emirates) said the two problems under consideration were of serious moment to the entire world.  They were behind all the evils affecting humanity, including depravation, moral deterioration and the spread of HIV/AIDS.  All steps must be taken to fight both crime and drugs by assisting in the introduction of alternative crops where drug crops were grown and helping to alleviate poverty, which led to criminal behaviours. 

    The laws and legislation of his country were based on Islam, he said.  That had helped to limit both drug trafficking and use.  However, some had recently succumbed.  A customs service had been introduced to control both crime and drugs, as well as to devise remedies.  Rehabilitation centres had been opened for those people who had fallen victim to drugs.  Awareness-raising efforts were conducted in schools and in the media.  Regional efforts were also being developed in concert with the United Nations Drug Programme. 

    Regional cooperation was most important, he said.  It was the way to share information and ideas on how to deal with the problems.  His country would sign the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in Palermo in December. 

    ELENA MOLARONI (San Marino) said that, just like the opening paragraph of the Charter, it was truly “We the peoples of the United Nations” that should work together, in cooperation with world governments and international organizations, to solve the world drug problem and rehabilitate former drug addicts.  On a recent visit to her country, she had attended a wedding in an ancient convent that had been entirely restored and refurbished by ex-drug addicts.  What struck her was that the small community of ex-addicts had rented the facility out, catered the events that took place there and cultivated the land to sell what they planted.  She realized that there were probably many communities supporting themselves in that same way, and hoped that their example would spur Committee members to seek out similar situations in their own countries and readily share these successes with the international community.  Those were the types of initiatives that should be supported by governments and international organizations.

    Otherwise, she believed that all that could be said of the international drug problem had already been said.  It was now time for action.  Since the twentieth special session of the General Assembly, her country had been signing international conventions on drugs in its attempt to improve the level of cooperation for which the international community was striving.  Those conventions included the European Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime, and the Convention on Narcotic Drugs.  San Marino highly valued international cooperation, and stood ready to support common actions towards elimination of the scourge of drugs. 

    Despite its small size, San Marino suffered grievously from drug addiction among its youth, she said.  The Commission on Narcotic Drugs had identified unemployment, neglect, sexual abuse and poverty as but a few of the reasons behind the problem.  She believed, therefore, that efforts should be concentrated on two fronts:  Containing circulation, traffic and consumption of drugs; and concentrating efforts at raising levels of education.  Efforts to curb drug use among the youth in her own country were not enough, however.  It would also be necessary to look at production.  That idea might present a stumbling block because it involved tackling the issue of poverty.  There was a clear link between poverty and the increase in drug production and traffic.  In some poor countries, farmers were obliged to cultivate drugs because of the profits they could obtain from such crops. The main way to give poor countries a way out of their misery and provide them with a better standard of living would be the cancellation of debt.  While that would be a major step, it should by no means be the only step. 

    RODRIGO DONOSO (Chile) said that his delegation welcomed the many instruments and measures to combat the international drug problem that were introduced at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly. Most importantly, the discussion and debate at that session had gone a long way to bridge the divide between the views of producer countries and those of consumer countries on the issue. He hoped that the international community would continue to work towards implementing the decisions reached at the session, particularly the Political Declaration.

    Chile, he said, had based its drug policies on multilateral conventions as well as the concept of close cooperation and shared responsibility with an integral and balanced approach. In respect of territorial sovereignty issues, Chile was in favor of avoiding aggressive language when drafting policies and mechanisms.  The common challenge then was to achieve success, based on the political will of States to consult and cooperate.

    He went on to say that a distinctive characteristic of criminal activity today was its transnational nature.  Crime now transcended legal, geographical and ideological borders and affected areas that often fell outside the purview of single States, and thus proved very difficult to control.  At the global level, States could be at a distinct disadvantage in combating the global drug problem, particularly its related crimes.  The international community should therefore work to establish a set of national measures.  The emerging concept of human security was an innovative and promising approach in dealing with such complex issues. 

    IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said that the Vienna Declaration constituted a framework for action, as well as a reaffirmation of the international community’s commitment to combat the scourge of drugs.  He praised the draft Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, as well as the conventions drafted to combat corruption and money laundering.  Above and beyond those instruments, the global community should work towards strengthening the quality of other legal instruments, as well as focusing efforts at awareness-raising and improving education.  In that regard he hoped for continued support for Senegal’s own national project on Crime Prevention. 

    He went on to say that greater international attention should be focused on the African Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI).  As the report of the Secretary-General noted, the Institute’s financial situation remained precarious, despite support both from within and outside Africa.  Support should be increased, particularly to aid UNAFRI’s efforts at combating the trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  He also noted that the regional efforts of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) clearly needed international support.

    Turning to drug trafficking, he said that high priority must be given to youth in fighting the scourge of drugs.  Education programmes aimed at enhancing the sensitization of youth to the issue should be strengthened.  He highlighted the work of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) which had focused on youth, as well as on those excluded from the educational system or left to the streets or their own devices.  Senegal was working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), youth organizations, media and traditional religious organizations to reach the most vulnerable segments of its population.  The country had also focused efforts on border control. 

    While Senegal’s national Plan of Action had been successful on many levels, it was important to note that good anti-drug legislation could not alone eradicate the problem.  Laws and policies must be enforced every day and at all levels. 

    AHMED DARWISH (Egypt) said the crime of drug abuse and trafficking was one of the most dangerous problems facing the international community today. 

    It deserved full attention if its devastating impact on societies was to be prevented.  International cooperation was needed, in concert with the work of United Nations agencies, to address the multi-faceted scourge.  Egypt, he said, had taken major steps to combat drug abuse and trafficking.  The country had intensified its efforts to combat money laundering, as well as illicit crop production.  It had also promoted alternative development methods.  Egypt had faced the social impacts of drug addiction head on through its own national plans of action.  Indeed, any drug addict who surrendered to the authorities would be pardoned and treated.  Social assistance was also provided for the families of drug abusers.

    However, he said, it was perhaps far beyond the efforts of developing countries to tackle the drug problem on their own, particularly at a time when so many had economies in transition and were trying to create sustainable development or achieve goals such as the reduction of poverty and improvement of healthcare systems.  He therefore called on the help of the international community to provide not only greater support, but to share the technological and other advantages and experiences of developed countries.

    The international community had made great strides in confronting the issue of criminal justice, particularly the transnational nature of criminal activity today.  Egypt’s policies in that area were aimed at achieving political and social stability.  Out of commitment to laws and values of Egypt’s constitution, religion and culture, the Government was applying the principle of security for all without discrimination.  The country had taken serious steps to combat crime at both international and local levels, and all authorities were taking measures to maintain law as well as human dignity, particularly by establishing an integrated system to rehabilitate those that had been sentenced for committing crimes.  Finally, he expressed concern for the lack of financial resources for UNAFRI and urged the international community to make that a high-priority issue.

    LI SANGU (China) said criminal activities had spread worldwide, particularly transnational organized crime.  To further strengthen international cooperation in combating criminal activities, States should actively implement the strategy and guidelines formulated by the Congress on crime held in Vienna last April.  The three protocols to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime should receive more attention and support.  And finally, the central and coordinating role of the United Nations in combating transnational organized crime should continue to be enhanced.

    In that regard, she continued, more funds should be allocated to crime prevention and criminal justice.  Also, more resources should be made available to developing countries, so as to mitigate the threats posed by transnational organized criminal activities.  Her country had taken an active part in drawing up the Convention on organized crime and its three protocols.  It had set up special task forces to strike vigorously at criminal rings.  It had signed bilateral and multilateral anti-crime agreements.  The enhanced international cooperation to fight organized crime should be based on the principles of respect for State sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit, carried out according to international norms and resolutions.

     SERGEY KAREV (Russian Federation) said the documents emanating from last year’s special session had boosted the fight against crime and drugs.  The Convention on organized crime was an important instrument, but for its provisions to be more than mere paper, mechanisms must be developed for implementing them.  Measures against corruption were an integral part of the fight against organized crime.  Only effective international cooperation would curb that activity.  Also needed were national legal foundations, plus an international instrument against corruption.  Undermining the economic basis of crime was a most important way of destroying its effectiveness.  Russia had instituted new legislation against money laundering.  It had signed the Council of Europe's convention on the matter, and was working to make cooperative arrangements with others.

    International anti-crime actions should be supported at the regional level, he said.  He enumerated cooperative activities by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, including a data bank being developed with the Office for International Crime Control.  He reviewed actions taken against the serious problem of illegal drug trafficking, saying his country had confiscated more than 20 tons of drugs this year, with 600 laboratories terminated from producing hard narcotic substances.  Clearly, no one State alone could control illegal drugs, particularly the synthetic drugs such as amphetamine-like stimulants.  He reaffirmed the invariability of his country's position against legalizing drugs or taking them out from under State control by dividing them into "hard" and "soft" drugs. 

    Finally, he said the illicit drug situation in Afghanistan was destabilizing the whole region.  Without effective countermeasures, Afghan narcotics exports reached black markets in Central Asia, Russia, Europe and the United States.  The United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) had helped to create a "security belt" around Afghanistan.  Russia was cooperating in air and space monitoring of illicit crops.  In light of the large-scale projects UNDCP was carrying out, it should be supported by the regular United Nations budget.  Even more urgently, it should receive further funds to implement the Action Plan on drug demand reduction. 
     

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