|For information only - not an official document.|
|5 October 2000|
| Need for Inter-sectoral Approach to Fighting Crime and Illegal Drugs
Stressed in Third Committee Debate
NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue discussing crime and drug control, the representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called for an inter-sectoral approach to combating those problems.
She said education and health issues should be integrated with policies aimed at behavioural change. A wide spectrum of issues should be addressed, including poverty, social and economic disparities, and development concerns. Those arose from constraints on international trade and unfair international economic financial structures.
Keeping in mind the sovereign rights of States, all countries should institute legislation against both national and transnational crime, the representative of Libya said. Trade in illicit weapons, counterfeit currency and historical manuscripts and articles were on the rise. The fight against poverty was part of the battle against crime, as was the need to provide technical assistance to developing countries.
She, too, stressed the need to ensure an inter-sectoral approach to fighting organized crime. Her country would sign the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime at the upcoming conference in Palermo.
The representative of Bangladesh said international support and assistance were needed to address not just the drug issue but also the endemic issue of poverty. Youths were frustrated by the absence of economic opportunities and by social ills. That situation often resulted in violence, drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. A comprehensive approach at both the national and international levels was needed.
Also addressing the Committee this morning were the representatives of Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Israel, Ukraine, Pakistan, Mexico, China, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Guinea, Italy and Madagascar.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue considering questions of crime prevention and criminal justice, and of international drug control.
DEMETRIS HADJIARGYROU (Cyprus) said the elaboration of a comprehensive international legal regime was essential in order to respond to the dangers posed by the increasingly sophisticated tactics of organized crime syndicates. In that regard, he welcomed the important work of the Tenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention, and also welcomed the finalization of the draft Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. He looked forward to the speedy finalization this month of that Convention’s three protocols.
He said the fact that the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) placed great stress on the international efforts to tackle the issue of money laundering was highly significant. Cyprus, having evolved as one of the major offshore financial centres in its geographical region, was particularly vulnerable to exploitation through money laundering. Therefore his Government had taken extensive measures to respond to the threat by enacting policies that, among other things, established proper enforcement and implementation mechanisms. Cyprus also conducted consistent dialogue with the private sector, especially legal and financial groups. An appropriate and relevant legislative framework had also been adopted.
Turning to the international drug problem, he said that the spread of illicit substances had risen dramatically over the past few decades. No nation remained immune from the devastating effects of drug abuse. And while much work remained to be done, the efforts of the international community would not be effective unless the root causes of the problem were addressed. Poverty, socio-economic imbalances, unemployment and lack of opportunities in education were all among the problems that should be addressed in order to stop the “slide into the abyss” of drug abuse. Effective action to reduce consumption of drugs must be combined with national and international efforts to reduce crop production. Alternative development and crop substitution should be actively pursued and supported.
ELMIRA IBRAIMOVA (Kyrgyzstan) said drug enforcement was a national policy priority for her country. An anti-narcotics strategy had been put in place, followed by the establishment of special State agencies. The strategy was to implement State policy by coordinating with ministries and agencies. Regional cooperation was an essential tool for dealing with the dangerous problems of drug trafficking and abuse. The Central Asian countries had reached bilateral and multilateral agreements on drug control in cooperation with the UNDCP.
She said Kyrgyzstan's drug trafficking and abuse problem was on a scale that threatened its national security and threatened to undermine its future. Of particular concern was the shift from hashish to opium addiction. She welcomed the Security Council's consideration of drug trafficking from Afghanistan last spring. She also welcomed the UNDCP's work in Afghanistan, particularly its alternative development programme, as well as its initiative to co-host a conference in Tashkent this month on enhancing security and stability in Central Asia. She would co-sponsor a draft resolution on international cooperation against the world drug problem.
CLAUDIA FRITSCHE (Liechtenstein) said that her delegation attached great importance to the item under discussion today. Liechtenstein fully supported international initiatives to condemn all forms of crime, particularly the fight against transnational organized crime, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, corruption and financial crime. Indeed, financial crime, notably in the form of money laundering, represented an increasing concern in a world now characterized by highly mobile funds and electronic payment methods and tools. It had been called the “heart of organized crime”.
She noted that a large portion of laundered money was derived from drug trafficking or other illegal activities. Her country was fully committed to the fight against money laundering; it had introduced anti-money-laundering provisions in its Penal Code. Liechtenstein’s Parliament had also recently adopted legal measures to prevent the abuse of financial services. Those steps included strengthening and improving existing provisions in the field of due diligence, prosecution and mutual legal assistance, as well as far-reaching law enforcement measures. The country had also increased its cooperation with UNDCP. She welcomed the draft Convention on transnational crime and looked forward to its signing in Palermo in December.
Finally, she said that the approach used in the fight against money laundering was as important as the fight itself. That “fight” could only be successful insofar as there was a common approach to the implementation of internationally agreed standards. For that reason, her delegation fully supported the initiatives and programmes of the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP). That agency’s procedures and methods, namely through international cooperation and dialogue, exemplified the manner in which transnational crime could best be combated. Working together with, and not against, countries affected by such crime, in a transparent, inclusive and nondiscriminatory manner, was fundamental.
SHAZIMAN ABU MANSOR (Malaysia) said he was very concerned with the rise of transnational crimes, economic crimes and money laundering. New forms of transnational crimes had emerged. There was a modern-day slave trade in human beings that involved women and children through debt-bondage and contract slavery, sweatshop work, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation. Electronic communication technology had helped spawn cyberspace crimes of child pornography and paedophilia at the global level. There was the illicit trade in firearms, international terrorism sponsored and funded from trafficking and organized crime. International kidnappings for ransom were on the rise, as was the case in Malaysia, currently facing such a crime in which its nationals had been kidnapped for ransom by foreign criminals. Clearly the 1994 Naples Declaration and Plan of Action was the guiding document in fighting crime, particularly by harmonizing and strengthening national legislation to facilitate extradition. Malaysia had participated on the ad hoc committee elaborating the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime transnational crime to intensify international cooperation in combating such crimes.
With regard to drug control, he said Malaysia faced the three major drug-related problems of drug smuggling into Malaysia: local consumption, transit of drugs for third countries and abuse of drugs. Describing steps taken to counter the problem on each level, he said his country was taking measures to involve non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in treatment and rehabilitation of addicts. While demand could be eliminated at the national level, elimination of the supply could only be accomplished through international cooperation. Likewise, combating transnational crime needed cooperation. Malaysia would sign bilateral arrangements with any country to counter crimes and ensure drug-free societies. It was enhancing collaboration with regional groups such as the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international policy body INTERPOL. It had become a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, established to counter money laundering from the proceeds of illicit drug trafficking.
SIMONA FRANKEL (Israel) said that prevention was important but that strict law enforcement measures had to be implemented when drugs were concerned. Israel's strategy focused on special programmes and services for children and teens considered to be at high risk of becoming drug addicts. Greater attention had also been devoted to the "occasional user". A guidance centre was being established to implement preventive activity at both the local and national level. Among many novel initiatives was the involvement of young people by the Israeli police in drug enforcement efforts. Promoting sports was another.
Israel's Anti-Drug Authority was also involved in enacting legislation to prevent money laundering, an important component in fighting drug trafficking. The Knesset had enacted a comprehensive law to prevent money laundering last August. In addition, because the public was an important element in combating crime, volunteer activities had been initiated to foster cooperation between the public and the criminal justice system.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of State members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), recalled that the Declaration adopted during the Millennium Summit stated the resolve of the international community to redouble efforts to carry out their commitment to counter the world drug problem. That commitment, considered in the context of recent international action to implement the decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly’s twentieth special session on drug control, represented an important step in maintaining political momentum against trafficking in drugs and the abuse of illicit drugs.
She said that the geographic location of Caribbean States compounded the problems arising from drug trafficking. Transit of illicit drugs through the Caribbean represented a threat to regional security, particularly in light of its links to corruption, money laundering and the traffic in small arms. With that in mind, CARICOM, through the adoption of several regional and bilateral initiatives, had attempted to strengthen national capacities to address the problems associated with the demand for, the supply of and the traffic in illicit drugs. Success in those initiatives had been due in many respects to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as well as the UNDCP.
She said that joint initiatives by that agency and the Caribbean Coordination Commission, along with the CARICOM Secretariat’s Regional Coordination mechanism, had achieved extraordinarily positive results in several Member States. But there was still a need to identify areas for further collaboration with the UNDCP and other regional bodies. She believed that the solution lay in an inter-sectoral approach integrating education and health with communication policies aimed at behavioral change. States in her region were painfully aware that the fight against drugs could not be confined to rhetoric on supply and demand reduction. There was indeed a need to address a wide spectrum of issues, including poverty, social and economic disparities, and development concerns arising from constraints on international trade and unfair international economic financial structures. She therefore welcomed programmes aimed at alternative development and those aimed at establishing credit schemes and developing agro-industries.
MYKOLA MELENEVSKY (Ukraine) said that as the Committee turned to issues of crime prevention and criminal justice, it was time to admit that there was no encouraging answer to the question of whether there had been adequate forward movement in addressing the international crime problem. Indeed, unprecedented challenges posed by the increasingly globalized nature of crime today made clear that no country alone could cope successfully with the growth of transnational organized crime. “Corruption follows international crime across national borders”, he said. It was now more important than ever to bring together all international partners to tackle crime.
He said that if criminals were going global, those in the fight against them must launch a wide campaign characterized by an effective network of technical, legal and judicial cooperation. Otherwise, the international community would fall behind in the struggle. In its turn, Ukraine had actively developed bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the area of crime prevention. The country was currently involved in more than 130 multilateral or bilateral agreements on mutual assistance.
Finally, he said that one of the most odious attributes of transnational organized crime was trafficking in human beings, especially women and children. As profitable as it was disgraceful, that flourishing business had, sadly, been addressed by relatively few joint initiatives. However, the Regional Law Enforcement Workshop against trafficking in women and children, held on the joint Ukraine and United States initiative in June, had produced some target-oriented and practical recommendations based on common experience. He hoped that the outcome of that workshop would promote more effective cooperation and information sharing among the destination, origin and transit countries involved in human trafficking.
MUNAWAR SAEED BHATTI (Pakistan) said the political document adopted during the 1998 special session on drugs had identified specific goals. Pakistan had launched a master plan for drug eradication with the UNDCP, and it was now an “opium production-free country”, a year ahead of time. A big part of the strategy had involved the targeting of communities and villages. Unfortunately, however, the use of drugs had increased.
He said that while Pakistan had made the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts a priority, efforts addressing the problem had to reach beyond its borders. Those efforts included interdiction activities, cooperation with Iran and steps to impede trafficking. Even so, those actions weren't enough. The UNDP effort in his country had shown that alternative crops worked. They were also working in Afghanistan. Lack of funding, however, would force the UNDCP to abandon projects there, which would send the wrong message to criminals.
Organized crime was a serious problem to all countries, he said. The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime contained elements to counter some very serious concerns. It would enable the world to make criminals face up to the full legal consequences of their actions, wherever in the world they were committed. Similarly, all illegally acquired funds should be returned to the locations from which they had been diverted.
GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) said a common set of indicators should be developed to formulate recommendations on goals for drug eradication. Prevention of addiction in children should be emphasized. Reduction of demand was very important to tackling the drug problem, together with the principle of shared responsibility. All should participate in drug eradication efforts. With regard to combating drugs by sea, the Law of the Sea principles should be followed. Also important was control of synthetic drugs. He then described cooperation at the regional level in that area.
He said his country had participated in elaborating the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols. The two protocols on trafficking -- one on illicit transport of migrants and the other on arms and ammunition -- were both critical to stemming modern transcontinental crimes. Of equal importance was to fight corruption. An all-encompassing instrument to punish all forms of corruption should be drafted. A study should be undertaken to make sure all forms of corruption were included.
MEI YUNCAI (China) said that drugs were mankind’s menace. And although the international community had introduced vigorous measures to combat the production of and traffic in drugs, as well as attempts to reduce demand with some success, the worldwide trend in cultivating, producing and consuming drugs was still growing. Globalization had produced revolutionary scientific and technological advances, and interaction between world trade and economic capacities had deepened, thus providing the fuel to further power the spread of transnational organized drug-related crime. No country was being spared. The international community must speedily adopt countermeasures. International cooperation on drug control should also be enhanced.
He said that, over the past few years, the Chinese Government had made great efforts to implement the measures adopted at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly and to achieve its objectives. In 1999, activities to establish drug-free communities by registering drug addicts, squarely tackling drug abuse and preventing more people from taking drugs had been carried out. At the same time, a campaign to ban drugs encompassing various activities had been launched among the country’s youth. In active cooperation with neighbouring countries, the Chinese Government also engaged in cultivating alternative crops to curb the production of drugs. Notable results had been registered in that regard.
Finally, he said that the problem of drugs was closely related to all aspects of social life. Therefore, to ban drugs, the whole society must be mobilized. That was a lesson China had learned through its battle against drugs. Experience had also shown it was not enough to rely on the work of one department or one mechanism. Clearly, the most effective approach to resolving the drug problem was a comprehensive and integrated one that involved the broad participation of whole societies using various legal, administrative, economic and educational tools.
LUIS FERNANDO CARRANZA-CIFUENTES (Guatemala) endorsed the statement made earlier on behalf of the Rio Group. He went on to say that the serious problem of drug trafficking and abuse was recognized as a social plague affecting both developed and undeveloped countries. The profits derived from illegal drug trade surpassed those produced from oil, and were only exceeded by profits derived from the arms trade.
The drug problem affected Guatemala in different ways, he said. Because of the country’s geographic location, it was used as an air, sea and land bridge for trafficking activities. Guatemala had also seen an increase in drug use. He was deeply concerned by the increase of violence and economic power recently achieved by criminal elements involved in the drug trade. All that had led to an increase in related crimes -- money laundering and corruption, in particular -– which had a deleterious effect on the society’s socio-economic development. Some of the country’s efforts had been aimed at establishing a diagnosis of drug addictions.
He also said that in order to address the increase in drug use among children and adolescents, his country had encouraged education and community action to increase social awareness. Closer international cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had also been encouraged.
MURAT SMAGULOV (Kazakhstan), speaking also on behalf of Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan and the Russian Federation, said international crimes were intertwined and couldn’t be separated. Drug abuse was also a concern. The use of narcotics was increasing worldwide. The United Nations should become the most effective instrument in eliminating the drug trade. The Declaration adopted at the special session provided a good framework to follow.
He said cooperation at the regional level was vital for control of both drug trafficking and organized crime. The legal basis must be solid in each of the countries of a region for cooperation to work. He reaffirmed the need for constant upgrading of the national legal instruments in his region and cited examples of successful strategies with the Commonwealth of Independent States countries (CIS) to counteract what had been forged into the "Balkan route". The newest concern was the practice of drug traders using certain of the region's countries as a testing ground for synthetic drugs. They manufactured new drugs then passed them around to see how well they sold. Afghanistan was particularly active in getting its drugs to Europe through the region. A comprehensive programme was needed to combat the phenomenon. The CIS countries had reaffirmed their intention to closely cooperate with all relevant bodies to combat drugs, one of the greatest scourges of mankind.
PAUL GOA ZOUMANIGUI (Guinea) said drugs were harmful to individuals and to societies. The phenomenon could not be dissociated from other scourges. While the face of drug trafficking and use varied from one country to another, those practices shared basic characteristics in all States. The adoption of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime would be an important step in combating crime at all levels. He would support the resolution in the General Assembly and his Government would sign it in Palermo in December.
One area of drug trafficking that should receive more attention was to find ways of preventing seized drugs from being recycled, he continued. New initiatives had been undertaken to seize and incinerate the drugs, but more work needed to be done in that area. Also needing more attention was the role of drugs in armed conflict. Supply and demand, trafficking and financing of drugs, should be investigated. Peacekeeping operations should include advisors and counselors on drugs. In addition, other United Nations bodies should consider the multifaceted nature of drugs and address such questions as the relationship between poverty and drugs. The efforts of United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders should be supported, particularly with more resources.
BRUNELLA BORZI CORNACCHIA (Italy) fully subscribed to France’s statement, delivered earlier on behalf of the European Union. Italy’s commitment to a legal instrument for international collaboration in the fight against organized crime dated back to the World Ministerial Conference on Organized Transnational Crime that had been held in Naples in 1994. Italy had also shown its commitment in 1998, at the International Conference in Rome, which had led to the Statute for the International Criminal Court.
Her country had also participated actively in structuring the Convention on transnational crime and the protocols thereto, particularly the text concerning the smuggling of migrants, she said. She hoped that the ad hoc committee would finalize those three important protocols so that they would be ready in time for the high-level signing event in Palermo this December.
She also hoped that the Member States would be represented in Palermo at the highest level and would participate actively in the symposiums and seminars being held in conjunction with that event. She was proud to inform the Committee that her Government was sponsoring the participation of representatives from 80 nations, including many from the least developed countries in the spirit of equitable geographic representation.
Article 21 of the Convention provided that States parties should endeavour to make regular and voluntary contributions to a United Nations agency account to grant developing countries and countries whose economies were in transition the technical assistance required to implement the Convention. In that regard, Italy was set to introduce a draft resolution to the Committee on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, which included a special appeal for States to move towards speedy implementation of the Convention.
Finally, she recalled that by adopting the Summit Declaration, world leaders had pledged to combat the drug problem, terrorism and transnational crime in general. To fulfil those commitments, the priority must be to strengthen respect for the rule of law. Otherwise, the international community would never achieve its objectives of ensuring freedom from fear and alleviating poverty.
JEAN DELACROIX BAKONIARIVO (Madagascar) said that the Assembly’s twentieth special session on the world drug problem had led to the establishment of new measures and commitments to combat crime and drug trafficking. That special session had also recognized the inextricable links between poverty, drug trafficking and organized crime. Globalization made this even more important. Therefore, Madagascar supported the continued commitment to those issues expressed by the outcome of the Millennium Summit. Still, much remained to be done to repair the harm drugs had already caused to sustainable human development. To that end, he welcomed the Vienna Declaration and the successful negotiations on the elaboration of the Convention on transnational crime and its three protocols.
Madagascar, he said, commended the Italian Government’s offer to host the Palermo Conference. He hoped that many countries would take part in that event and reaffirm their dedication to taking up important issues related to crime prevention. He was also aware of the need to tackle money laundering, drug trafficking, and related issues and supported the convening of an international conference on trafficking in small arms in 2001.
He said he was looking forward to beginning negotiations on a convention against corruption, as that phenomenon had disastrous effects on economic and social development. There was also a definite need to strengthen legal and financial institutions. Corruption could be eliminated through tighter public policy controls, as well as effective, efficient and credible administration.
DULUL BISWAS (Bangladesh) said his country faced great difficulty because of its location between two major narcotics-producing areas across Asia and the Middle East -- the golden crescent and the golden triangle. Traffickers had created a route involving his country in trafficking drugs to western markets. International demand had exacted a toll. Young people had become addicted because of low prices and easy availability.
To reverse the trend, he said, international support and assistance was needed to address not just the drug issue itself but also the endemic issue of poverty. Youths were frustrated by the absence of economic opportunities and by social ills. That caused violence, drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. A comprehensive approach was needed at both the national and international levels. It should include regional actions to back up international goals and should also involve technical support for developing countries.
HANAN ZOGHBIA (Libya) said new forms of transnational crime were characterized by deceit and profit, which were used for terrorism. Trade in illicit weapons, counterfeit currency and historical manuscripts and articles was on the rise and her country had instituted laws against them. Keeping in mind the sovereign rights of States, all countries should draw up legislation against both national and transnational crimes.
Her country would be signing the Convention in Palermo, she said. However, it should be kept in mind that the fight against organized crime should be included in all sectoral issues. The fight against poverty was an important part of the battle against crime. The provision of technical assistance to developing countries was another one.
Also troubling, she said, was that certain countries had adopted a policy of silence and acquiescence. They harboured criminal elements, and gave banking loans after monies had been traced and found illegal. Those countries were sabotaging efforts to eradicate a scourge. While a number of international agreements had been reached to fight international crime, additional measures were needed.
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