IMPORTANCE OF GLOBAL, REGIONAL COOPERATION IN
NEW YORK, 30 September (UN Headquarters) -- As the General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee continued its general debate on crime prevention and criminal justice and international drug control in a brief meeting this afternoon, members highlighted the importance of global and regional cooperation, as well as comprehensive national strategies.
The representative of Australia stressed that people smuggling and trafficking were crimes, often perpetrated by those with links to other criminal activities. Therefore, the importance of international cooperation in the fight against those scourges could not be underestimated. He added that this year's Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime had aimed to bring attention to the issue as well as aid the work of the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention.
The representative of Libya echoed the importance of regional cooperation and highlighted the important work of the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) in efforts to combat transnational criminal activity in the African region.
Members’ attention was also drawn to national initiatives to combat transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking by the representatives from the South American region. The representative of Brazil told the Committee about a public security plan, which had been implemented with success in Brazil. The plan included provisions on the protection of crime witnesses and victims, the adoption of legislation against money laundering, improvements in the effectiveness of punishment and the control of trade and possession of firearms.
The Peruvian representative elaborated on some of his country’s national approaches to deal with illicit drugs, including prohibition, the creation of an alternative farming environment and the reduction of drug production and drug use. He stressed that there had been a general decrease in the production of illicit drugs, partly due to effective aerial interventions, the successful fight against the terrorist group "Shining Path", the drop in price of coca leaves and the resulting abandonment of coca production. However, he was concerned that the deepening poverty and general social discontent might reverse his country’s fragile and brittle successes in the struggle against illicit drugs.
The Committee will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. to continue its consideration of crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as international drug control.
The Third Committee this afternoon continued its general debate on crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as international drug control.
[For further information please see press release GA/SHC/3688 of 30 September 2002.]
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said that the report of the Secretary-General, which highlighted the progress made regarding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, also mentioned the negotiation of the draft United Nations Convention against corruption. Brazil closely followed and supported the work done by the ad hoc Committee, particularly its comprehensive and balanced approach between prevention and law enforcement. The fight against transnational organized crime and the promotion of international cooperation in this field were top priorities for Brazil.
Action aiming at crime prevention and criminal justice had benefited from studies and documents made by the United Nations, particularly proposals by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice she said. Action included the Public Security Plan, which over the last two years had produced results regarding the protection of crime witnesses and victims, the adoption of legislation against money laundering, improvements in the effectiveness of punishment and the control of trade and possession of firearms.
Brazil was committed to the fight against illicit drug consumption and trafficking, as well as connected crimes she continued. On the national level, Brazil’s legislation had been updated to conform to many of the United Nations documents in the field. One important result had been the creation of the National Anti-Drugs Bureau, which coordinated prevention and rehabilitation activities. The National Anti-Drugs Policy, launched in December 2001, reflected Brazil’s grave concern with the illegal use of drugs. The growing awareness of the issue in Brazilian society had led to an increased participation of non-governmental actors in the fight against illicit drugs. To increase the struggle against drug trafficking and consumption, it was necessary to strengthen a multidimensional strategy that took into account the aspects of prevention and rehabilitation, besides all repressive activities, including against related crimes.
AHMED GZLLAL (Libya), said transnational criminal activity had now been joined by new and emerging forms of terrorism as a major hindrance to the social and economic development of nations. The illicit drug trade and trafficking in antiques, as well as women, children and migrants were on the rise. The same was true of the illicit trade in weapons and online criminal activity which had resulted even in trade in human organs. To combat those scourges, the United Nations had elaborated a range of international instruments which must be adhered to. For its part, Libya had acceded to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized crime and its relevant protocols. Libya had also entered into relevant bilateral agreements with countries in the region.
He went on to say that the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) was another major factor in ensuring the promotion of efforts to combat transnational criminal activity in the region. Therefore, Libya could only hope that the Secretary-General would strengthen efforts to mobilize funds to finance UNAFRI, to ensure that its noble goals were met and its important programmes were carried out in a timely manner.
Libya welcomed the work being done by the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of a convention against corruption, and particularly the setting of 2003 as the year for the completion of its work. That would go a long way to address that serious scourge in many countries, particularly in the developing world he said. Libya was in favour of effective measures to prevent money laundering and the recovery of illegally transferred resources. At the same time. Libya hoped that such a convention would not be exploited for the purposes of interfering in the internal affairs of nations.
Libya believed that State terrorism was a form of organized crime, and there was a significant need for the international community to pool its efforts to combat all forms of that terrorism. It was up to everyone to establish a precise definition of terrorism and to distinguish between that scourge and the legitimate right to self-determination. He hoped that the international community would cooperate to put an end to various forms of organized crimes by acceding to international instruments and working to elaborate the requisite national machinery.
PETER TESCH (Australia) said the Committee should use this opportunity to seriously consider the issue of transnational criminal activity in all its forms, particularly people smuggling and people trafficking. While migration and many other forms of people movement carried many social and economic benefits for both source and destination countries, people smuggling and trafficking were crimes, often perpetrated by those with links to other criminal activity such as document fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking.
He said the organizers of such activities made lucrative profits by exploiting those who wanted to migrate illegally. Indeed, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had estimated that worldwide proceeds from trafficking and smuggling were nearly $10 billion a year. Such activities challenged the right of States to protect their borders and constituted a direct threat to State sovereignty. Illegal movement of asylum seekers undermined the effectiveness and integrity of international refugee protection systems, which Australia and many other countries supported. It also had the potential to erode public support for legal migration programmes.
In Australia's part of the world, the process established by this year's Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime was leading efforts to bring attention to the issue as well as aid the work of the ODCCP. Indonesia and Australia had co-chaired the Conference, where ministers from 38 countries had committed themselves to putting in place region-wide cooperative measures aimed at stopping the people who dealt so cold-heartedly in human cargo. The Bali process accordingly had a strong crime prevention focus -- two ad hoc experts groups had been established to examine regional information exchange, criminalization of people smuggling at the national level, and the enhancement of cooperation in law enforcement. The groups would report their findings at the next Ministerial Meeting, scheduled for early 2003 in Bali.
ALFREDO CHUQUIHUARA (Peru) said the struggle against illicit drugs was a pervasive part of the Peruvian Government’s policies. That struggle demanded an active and ongoing participation of all States on a basis of shared responsibility. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation was necessary to approach transnational problems such as the illicit drug trade. In Peru, there had been a general decrease in the production of illicit drugs. This decrease could partly be attributed to effective aerial interventions, the fight against the terrorist group "Shining Path", the drop in price of coca leaves and the resulting abandonment of coca production. However, since 1999, a number of variables had also emerged which impacted the struggle against illicit drugs, such as the increase in poverty and the general discontent concerning alternative farming opportunities.
The Peruvian Government had attempted to deal with illicit drugs through prohibition, the creation of an alternative environment and the reduction of drug production and drug use. He stressed that prohibition continued to be an important tool in preventing the development of cocaine. However, the underlying causes were serious social needs, which needed to be addressed immediately to consolidate the very basis of a stable democratic society.
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