Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/SHC/300
        3 October 2000
     Third Committee Hears Calls for Urgent Action against 
    Drug Trafficking, Corruption, Money Laundering
     

     NEW YORK, 2 October (UN Headquarters) -- Corruption must be expunged as a cancer without regard to "sacred cows", Nigeria's representative urged this afternoon when the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met to continue considering questions of crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.  The statement was an endorsement of an international instrument on corruption similar to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, to be signed at a high level at Palermo in December. 

    Nigeria's representative said his country's priority since returning to democracy a year and a half ago was to attack illicit drug trafficking, corruption and money laundering.  An Anti-graft Commission had been established last week as part of an anti-corruption crusade.  Recovery of money stolen from the public coffers was another element in the drive.  However, complex legal procedures were an impediment.  He appealed to countries holding illegally transferred funds to cooperate in repatriating them.

    Urging full participation in the signing ceremony for the Convention on transnational crime, the representative of the Republic of Korea also called for an international instrument against corruption, with speedy establishment of an ad hoc committee soon.  She said that illicit drugs were increasingly entwined with organized crime.  As criminal organizations attained unprecedented wealth from drugs, their actions turned appallingly violent.  It was obvious that drug control and crime prevention were most effectively tackled together.

    The representative of Poland cited the provisions for confiscating proceeds from criminal activity in the Convention on transnational crime as a useful tool limiting the capability to profit from illegal activities.  He said its provisions were forward-looking and aimed at limiting criminal participation in lawful markets.  Adherence must be universal, giving criminals a clear message that they had no “safe havens”.

    The representatives of Kuwait, Indonesia, Cuba, Belarus (on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States), Sudan, Thailand and Iraq also spoke this afternoon.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 October, when it will continue consideration of crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

    Committee Work Programme

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

    Statements

    AYADAH AL SAIDI (Kuwait) said that his country had set high priority on combating criminal activity and trafficking in drugs.  Kuwait had also enacted laws governing psychotropic drug use.  Kuwait did not consider that drug addicts were criminals; drug addiction was considered a “sickness” and addicts were provided with necessary care and treatment in specialized centres. 

    He went on to say that Kuwait had also initiated efforts to fight against drug trafficking and abuse at all levels of society.  Several national organizations had been created, and the country remained convinced of the importance of collective action.  It therefore supported the implementation of all international instruments on the issue.  Kuwait had also made conscious efforts to offer help and assistance in the area of alternative crop production that would allow for adequate levels of income. 

    BALI  MONIAGA (Indonesia) said that last April’s Tenth Crime Congress had produced the Vienna Declaration, calling for strengthening of cooperation to promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty and unemployment.  Such a balanced approach was essential to an anti-crime package encompassing initiatives to prevent crime as well as combat it.  The Convention against Transnational Crime would be a new mechanism to harmonize the actions of different legal systems.  Regional cooperation was also vital for control of illicit drugs and psychotrophic substances.  The role of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) was most welcome, particularly in providing technical assistance to developing countries so they could implement national initiatives.

    In addition, he recalled from the Secretary-General's report, the principal role of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was to facilitate the sharing of best practices in prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation.  Attention should be given to ensuring that examples of best strategies took into account variations in social and cultural backgrounds.  They should be relevant to developing countries and their limited resources.  Programmes should be sensitive to local needs and priorities.  All States, however, must accord priority action to prevent shield children from falling victim to the drug scourge. 

    LUIS ALBERTO AMOROS  NUNEZ (Cuba) said international cooperation to combat crime and drugs required political commitment.  The only way it would work was on the basis of shared responsibility and equality.  Developing countries needed a set of viable mechanisms to help combat illicit drugs.  Certainly no country with high drug-consumption levels could be the world's watchdog on the issue.  That was a job for the world community and the International Narcotics Control Board. 

    His country did not have a serious illicit drug problem, he said.  Yet trafficking in the Caribbean region was high and it affected Cuba.  Traffickers used Cuba as part of a main route for the great consumer, the United States.  Without the action of Cuban authorities, the problem would be worse.  Yet apart from odd incidents of cooperation with the United States -- brought about at Cuba's request -- there had been little cooperative interaction between the two countries.  Cuba had, however, signed bilateral and multilateral agreements with 23 other countries.  It would continue such cooperative steps.  Drugs could not be allowed to erode the foundations of civilization.

    SERGEI LING (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said that international crime posed one of the most serious threats to the stability of States.  No country had been able to battle such crime single-handedly or succeed in its complete eradication.  The reality of the day required harmonized action among all States.  The UNDCP played an important and unique role in coordinating international activities.  Therefore broad international support for that organization should be increased.  He welcomed the Convention on transnational crime as an instrument of fundamental importance in the fight against international criminal activity.  Its three protocols would also prove important tools in fighting related crimes. 

    An important component in the campaign against criminal activity was work at regional and subregional levels.  The CIS faced the problem by providing various inter-State programmes.  Progress made in implementation of those programmes had been discussed at a recent meeting in Kiev.  The CIS also encouraged cooperation in creating training programmes and informing the public about dealing with crime.  The Commonwealth also worked closely with all the anti-criminal agencies of the United Nations, and urged a speedy start-up of the data bank that would contain broad information on the issue of international crime.  He said that without a doubt, the prerequisite for combating the complexities of international crime was that all efforts, at all levels, should be coordinated 

    ILHAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan) said that international drug control was a global responsibility.  It should be addressed, however, with particular concern to ensure full respect for non-interference, territorial sovereignty and human rights, as well as for other protections enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  Sudan had participated in international activities aimed at tackling the drug problem out of its belief that drugs were the greatest enemy of the world’s youth and could eventually lead to the destruction of society.  Another issue that should be addressed by the international community was that of money laundering resulting from illicit traffic in drugs.  The use of such funds created armed movements which threatened legitimate governments as well as international peace and security.

    Sudan, she continued, was one of the countries where drugs were not a necessarily serious problem, but the country’s location made it a possible “bridge” for drug smuggling and trafficking to other countries.  The Sudan was therefore combating narcotic drugs with laws aimed at many differing but related activities, such as crimes against the environment, and laws to facilitate the extradition of criminals.  Sudan’s laws also contained specific articles on combating corruption, bribes and illegal wealth.  It had become party to all international conventions on the issue of crime, including those on money laundering and trafficking in human organs.  It also gave full support to the Convention against Transnational Organizational Crime and looked forward to is signing in Palermo in December.  Convening a conference and signing an instrument on transnational crime would support international and national efforts aimed at combating organized crime, and would reaffirm commitment to the outcome of the twentieth session of the General Assembly.

    CHUNG EUI-HAE (Republic of Korea) said the Convention on transnational crime and its protocols were being completed in record time.  That indicated the extent of the common will and dedication to combating one of the most contemptible ills of the day.  All governments should take part in the signing ceremony and lend their support to early entry into force of the Convention.  An international instrument against corruption was also urgently needed, particularly in times of economic turmoil like the present.  An ad hoc committee to negotiate that instrument should be established quickly.

    Increasingly, she said, the manufacture and transfer of illicit drugs were becoming entwined with organized crime.  As criminal organizations attained unprecedented wealth from the illicit drug market, their actions became more appallingly violent.  It was obvious that drug control and crime prevention were most effectively dealt with together.  Cooperation at the working level should be strengthened between the Center for International Crime Prevention and the UNDCP.  That would enable the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) to function even better. 

    SUKUMBHAND PARIBATRA (Thailand) said the illicit drug problem had been exacerbated by the alarming increase in abuse of synthetic substances, particularly amphetamine-type stimulants.  That drug was widespread among young people because it was low in price and small in size.  It was also inexpensive to produce, through an uncomplicated process carried out in makeshift factories.   In 1999, Thailand confiscated over 50 million metamphetamine tablets, a 50 per cent increase over 1998.  Unless the spread of those drugs was arrested, they would soon be the drug of choice.  The world community should give the same importance to that drug as to heroin and other drugs.

    National drug suppression efforts could not have succeeded without the cooperation of friends, partners and neighbours, he said.  Collaboration was essential for a country in Thailand's geographical location.  It was being strengthened in bilateral, multilateral and regional frameworks designed to mobilize sufficient resources to meet the challenge in all its dimensions, realizing a sense of shared responsibility among all players.  The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had met in July and had moved forward the target for achieving a drug-free ASEAN by five years, from 2020 to 2015.  Towards that end, the UNDCP and Thailand were hosting an international congress next week with representatives at the policy-making level. 
    PIOTR OGONOWSKI (Poland) said that the need for an international instrument to tackle the issue of transnational crime had become increasingly evident during the last decade.  The 1990s had witnessed an unprecedented -- some would say global -- surge in organized criminal activity.  Arms smuggling, slavery or corruption of public officials were but a few of the illicit activities that had recently become more prevalent, posing serious threats not only to the internal order and development of affected countries but to international peace and security as well. 

    He said that criminal organizations increasingly engaged in arms smuggling, often in violation of embargoes, fueling violent conflicts.  Those organizations had proved highly efficient in exploiting the positive changes the world had undergone in recent years -- relaxing or opening international borders, the revolution in communications and technology and the liberalizing of trade for their own profit.  He was convinced that the Convention on transnational crime would provide the solid ground on which, with broad cooperation, the international community could tackle the serious problem of organized crime. 

    He went on to say that by criminalizing participation in organized uncivil groups, the Convention filled a very important void in international law.  The Convention’s provisions for confiscating the proceeds and property from organized criminal activity would also serve as a useful tool to limit the capability of such organizations to profit from their activities.  That would perhaps discourage others from following in their footsteps.  He also noted the Convention’s forward-looking nature.  Its provisions aimed to limit the participation of criminal groups in lawful markets.  He said that his delegation also joined those who supported strengthening the capacity of the United Nations and its agencies to address the issue.  It was imperative for the success of the Convention that adherence to its tenets be universal.  Criminals should be given a clear message that there were no “safe havens” for those who showed disrespect for the basic principles of law and civilized behaviour. 

    FELA HESAN AL-RUBAIE (Iraq) said that his country had been following closely the international community’s campaign against drugs.  The country’s national commission on drugs in general, and psychotropic drugs in particular, adhered to relevant United Nations conventions on such issues.  Iraq had also participated in regional meetings and conferences on the international drug problem.  Preventive action adopted by the authorities, however, meant that Iraq was one of the few countries that was “clean” as far as drug use and abuse were concerned.  Drugs were used in Iraq only for medical purposes.  In fact, there was no “drug culture”, since drugs for recreational use were strictly prohibited.  Nor was there a drug industry.  Iraq continually implemented programmes that prevented the use of drugs at all levels, while making people aware of the dangers of abuse and addiction.

    Despite preventive action undertaken by the Government, however, he said that in the north, in the country’s autonomous zone, Iraq was now witnessing a growing drug trade.  That was following the administrative vacuum created in the zone by United States military intervention.  The latter had allowed armed gangs to produce drug-related crops in vast areas of the region which could feed drugs to other countries, such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  Recent seizures in the area had been substantial.  Iraq had informed the International Office for Drug Control of that serious problem.  The country was seeking to put an end to the situation which was not just a threat to peace and security in its own society, but posed similar threats to neighbouring countries, since the north could become a transit point for illegal substances.

    TENIOLA OLUSEGUN APATA (Nigeria) said the global drug entrepreneurs commanded enormous resources.  Countering such an enterprise required commensurate resources at the local, regional and international levels.  In recognition of the global nature of the drug menace, Nigeria would sign a memorandum of understanding with other countries as an assurance that it would assist in arresting, punishing or extraditing Nigerians who offended the drug laws of any nation.

    He described numerous initiatives Nigeria had taken in support of international efforts to rid the world of the drug scourge, including preventive measures and legislation to divest illicit traffickers of their assets. His country's priority, since returning to democracy a year and a half ago, was to attack the three related practices of illicit drug trafficking, corruption and money laundering.  Just last week, an Anti-graft Commission with powers to investigate and initiate charges over allegations of corruption had been established as part of an anti-corruption crusade.  Corruption must be condemned, and must not be tolerated in any country.  It must be expunged as a cancer without regard to "sacred cows". 

    Nigeria's seriousness in that regard was demonstrated by its drive to recover money stolen from the public coffers, he said.  Yet those efforts were often impeded by complex legal procedures.  He appealed to countries holding illegally transferred funds to cooperate and help Nigeria repatriate the funds.  He endorsed technical cooperation projects helping governments fight corruption.  He fully endorsed initiatives for elaborating an international instrument against corruption. 
     

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