CRITICAL LINKS BETWEEN CRIME, ILLICIT DRUGS, CORRUPTION, TERRORISM REVEALED BY 11 SEPTEMBER EVENTS, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD
As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued in two meetings today its annual debate on crime prevention and drug control issues, the representative of India said the sinister truths behind the events of 11 September 2001 revealed the critical links between crime, terrorism, corruption and the illicit trade in narcotic drugs.
He said one year after the terrorist attacks on the United States, the world view of crime and terrorist activity had undergone a drastic change. Terrorism was no longer seen as a menace threatening remote corners of the world -- the province of some poor, unfortunate peoples struggling in developing countries. The representative of India agreed with other delegations that terrorism was based on a multiplicity of crimes and took advantage of transit and communication networks originally intended to expand trade, enhance well-being and understanding among all peoples.
The representative of Pakistan stressed the need for new approaches in dealing with the dynamic and complex threat of illicit drugs. A rapid transformation in the pattern of drug production, trafficking and abuse had taken place. Having achieved considerable reductions in drug production and trafficking, many countries were faced with increasing numbers of drug addicts. In addition, drugs were flowing from both developed and developing countries -- Western countries had now emerged as the main supplier of synthetic drugs.
Drugs ruined lives and undermined sustainable human development, said the representative of Afghanistan. They also created organized criminal networks -- such as Al Qaeda-Taliban era terrorist groups -- cultivating, exporting and smuggling narcotics, which threatened local communities, entire regions and the world at large.
Echoing the need for new approaches to deal with narco-terrorism and drug barons, the representative of Myanmar vowed to cooperate with neighbouring countries and the United Nations to turn the once notorious "Golden Triangle" into a peaceful and prosperous triangle -- a triangle free of drugs.
Corruption was another evil that depleted the resources needed for development and social protection, eroded the reputation of politicians and threatened democracy and stability, said the representative of Argentina. People who took bribes -- but also those who offered them, and did business with illicit money -- were criminals. It was vital for developing countries that a Convention against Corruption foresaw different mechanisms for recovering funds from corruption, and also that it punished acts illicitly enriching public servants.
The representatives of the following countries also spoke on the issues of crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as international drug control during today’s two meetings: Kazakhstan (on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)), Belarus (also on behalf of the CIS), Viet Nam, Algeria, Malaysia, Israel, Nepal, Turkey, Gambia, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Nigeria, Iraq and Libya.
The Committee will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. and is expected to conclude its consideration of crime prevention and international drug control.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its general debate on matters related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control -- the first items on the agenda of its 2002 substantive session.
KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said the scourge of narcotic drugs still posed a serious threat to the world community. As old threats faded away, new threats such as amphetamine-type stimulants continued to appear. Traders of illicit drugs continued to find more effective ways to elude the law. Despite the lack of resources and the many years of denied recognition, Myanmar had made significant progress in its fight against illicit narcotic drugs, including the enactment of a 15-year master plan to totally eradicate illicit narcotic drugs. Only three years into the plan, production had been cut by almost 70 per cent. Myanmar had initiated a seeds exchange programme in June whereby commercial cash crop seeds were exchanged with poppy seeds as part of "Project Hell Flower". Farmers had already turned in more than 290 tons of poppy seeds voluntarily.
Myanmar had been conducting an annual joint opium yields survey with the United States, he said. The results showed that the opium-cultivated area had declined by about 38 per cent. It also showed that an estimated 241,700 households were growing opium poppy. However, the opium farmers barely made a subsistence living -- it was the drug barons and the narco-terrorists that became rich by this nefarious trade. Providing an alternative livelihood for farms had contributed significantly to Myanmar’s anti-narcotic drug endeavours.
The border areas of Myanmar, which hitherto had never experienced long periods of peace, had unfortunately been conducive to growing illicit drug crops, he continued. Since the various armed groups had returned to the legal fold, the Government of Myanmar had done its very best to develop the socio-economic situation of the border areas by establishing schools, offering medical care and offering an alternative livelihood. Myanmar would continue to cooperate with its neighbouring countries and the United Nations to turn the once notorious "Golden Triangle" into a peaceful and prosperous triangle free of drugs.
MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan), speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said the illegal drug trade and drug abuse, despite all the efforts undertaken by the international community, still posed a major threat in all global regions. The spread of drugs and the illicit drug trade required immediate action, as it was affecting not only social sectors but international security. It had also become clear that the illicit drug trade was fuelling various other forms of criminal activity, and there was a pressing need to cut off the drug trade at its financial roots. In all this, the leadership and coordinating role of the United Nations and the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) would be critical to ensure the success of national, regional and global strategies to combat that scourge.
She said regional cooperation was one of the most important aspects of rooting out drug traffickers and narco-terrorists. The governments of the CIS region were elaborating drug control strategies with priority on far-reaching, long-term actions. One of the most recent initiatives had been the Programme for Joint Measures to Combat Illegal Drug Trade and Psycotropic Substances in the CIS Territories. The region had also carried out widespread multilateral agreements between regional governments. All measures allowed governments in the region to assess and monitor the drug trade and to set strategies and programmes.
She said the countries in her region were deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries. Despite the anti-terrorist operations that had followed the tragic events of 11 September 2001, the volume of drug production in Afghanistan had not been curtailed, and drug traffic moving through the Central Asian region continued unabated. Such volumes of illicit drugs crossing borders were a threat to the region, as well as the entire world. It was necessary for the countries in the region, the wider international community and the United Nations to ensure that no effort was spared in order to bring this situation under control. That was necessary for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan, as well as the world at large.
ALEG IVANOU (Belarus), also speaking on behalf of the CIS countries, said the reports on crime prevention provided an important basis to fight organized crime and terrorist groups. Cooperation was needed between all countries to combat this world scourge. The Eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention in 2005 would be an important step in the right direction and had the full support of the countries in his region. All countries in the region had enacted and initiated work in the field of crime prevention and the treatment of offenders and supported the strengthening of legal measures to fight transnational organized crime. A United Nations Convention against Corruption was an important step, and it was hoped that it would enter into force by 2003.
An important role in the fight against crime was that of regional cooperation. Cooperation among States to combat crime was being carried out through an inter-State programme in the region. The Council of Heads of States of the CIS had already met to consider the continuation of regional cooperation in the sphere of crime prevention. In 2002, important work had been undertaken in the region on legal mechanisms and protection of victims. As terrorism remained a threat in the region, an Anti-Terrorism Centre had been established and was taking a number of anti-terrorism measures. There was a mutual warning system between the States in the region. The Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS had also been heavily involved in many counter-terrorism measures. In the future, a policy of cooperation within the region and with other United Nations countries would be pursued by CIS States concerning crime prevention.
PHAM THI KIM ANH (Viet Nam) said her Government saw a close link between the illicit drug trade, corruption, money laundering and terrorism. Viet Nam believed, therefore, that while fighting against terrorism had been given priority on the international agenda, other issues such as transnational organized crime should also be given due attention. Viet Nam appreciated all international efforts to monitor the drug trade, but realized that total elimination of illicit drugs was a difficult job. That struggle required integrated and cooperative efforts tailored to address specific and unique realities and national, as well as regional, concerns.
She said Viet Nam was involved in a number of regional initiatives to combat illicit drugs and drug trafficking. One such plan, "Drug-Free ASEAN", aimed to promote regular information exchanges among the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries and promote coordination and cooperation on regional and national legislation. Further, Viet Nam's Constitution stipulated that the illegal production, trafficking and sale of drugs was strictly prohibited. The National Committee for Drug Control had been established with the aim of the step-by-step eradication of poppies and other drug crops. That Committee was also elaborating policies aimed at addressing the social needs of drug addicts.
Thus far, she continued, Viet Nam had been able to reduce poppy crops by some 90 per cent. It had also achieved measured results in the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts through a variety of community outreach programmes. Over the years, the international community had increasingly recognized the need for cooperation to combat organized crime and drug trafficking. Viet Nam strongly appreciated the role of the relevant United Nations organs in providing relevant assistance to countries. She hoped the global community would continue to work together to make progress against crimes that affected the common struggle of all.
MUKTA D. TOMAR (India) said India had been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism for many years. It was, therefore, heartening to see from the report of the Secretary-General, on Strengthening the Terrorism Branch of the Secretariat, that the United Nations had long been seized of the issue of terrorism and had been addressing terrorism as a form of serious crime. It was, however, a matter of regret that inadequacy of mandate and financial support had stifled the work that should have been undertaken by the Centre for International Crime Prevention these past years. India, therefore, welcomed the recommendations on the proposed expanded programme of work of the Centre for International Crime Prevention, which would add to the fight against terrorism.
Concerning illicit drugs, she said the successes achieved in addressing the multidimensional and multifaceted problems of narco-terrorism were commendable, particularly the efforts to reduce production and dismantle drug cartels. The successes were unfortunately offset by the challenges posed by a shift to the production of amphetamine-type stimulants and other synthetic drugs. Loopholes in legislation to deal effectively with money laundering and weaknesses in controls on the diversion of chemical precursors remained. The sinister truths behind the events of 11 September revealed the links among crime, terrorism and the illicit trade in narcotic drugs. The international community needed to work actively and closely to ensure that the children of tomorrow could live in a world free of these blights.
A. OSMANE (Algeria) said the complex and "cumbersome" link between organized transnational crime and organized terrorism was becoming increasingly clear. Therefore, it was more urgent than ever for all nations to swiftly accede to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crimes and its three Protocols, and to support the efforts of the ODCCP. Algeria was set to host a regional ministerial conference in late October, with the cooperation of the United Nations Vienna Office, with the aim of promoting the principles of the Convention and its Protocols in Africa.
He said Algeria had long drawn attention to the issue of terrorism and welcomed the Secretary-General's proposal to strengthen the Anti-terrorism Branch of ODCCP. Still, he was troubled that the specifics of that proposal had not yet been transmitted to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). He hoped that the fifty-seventh Assembly session would act to quickly follow up on the Secretary-General's recommendations. The issue of corruption also deserved due attention, and he welcomed the work under way by the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of a relevant convention. Algeria would continue to lend its support to that important work.
International efforts to combat the worldwide problem of drugs bore witness to the awareness and concern of humanity for global, balanced and integrated efforts to reduce demand and control the supply and distribution of drugs. That required strategies and tactics based on genuine support for countries that had committed themselves to reducing supply, converting crops and reinforcing national legislation and judicial structures. National strategies to eliminate drug crops through substitution programmes were, indeed, encouraging. In Africa, many countries had adopted such measures. The use of psychotropic drugs in Algeria was a major concern, and efforts were under way to supervise border areas to reduce trafficking, monitor supply and demand and address the social concerns of addicts.
ISHTIAQ HUSSAIN ANDRABI (Pakistan) said despite efforts to the contrary, there had been a quantum increase in crimes, particularly transnational organized crime. These crimes posed serious challenges to national security and tended to unweave the social fiber of society. Terrorism, the worst and most heinous manifestation of such crimes, had given a new dimension to crime prevention. Pakistan valued the significant role played by the Centre for International Crime Prevention in combating this scourge. International cooperation was pivotal to the success of this effort. For the short term, developing countries needed assistance in capacity-building through improved legislative and administrative mechanisms, trained manpower and modern equipment and technology. In the long run, socio-economic inequities -- often the underlying cause or a contributory factor to most common crimes -- needed to be addressed. Appropriate emphasis must, therefore, be given to assist developing countries in their economic and social development programmes.
There had been a rapid transformation in the pattern of drug production trafficking and abuse during the last decade, he said. Many countries, having achieved considerable reduction in drug production and trafficking, now faced increasing numbers of drug addicts. Furthermore, Western countries had now emerged as the main suppliers of synthetic drugs. This situation necessitated a new approach. In Pakistan, through the Narcotics Control Substances Act of 1997, domestic laws conformed with the provisions of the international drug control instruments. The Act criminalized all forms of activities related to the illicit drug business, which included manufacturing, trafficking, and possession of drugs and precursors, as well as the acts of aiding, abetting, facilitating and inducing such acts.
Pakistan had been a poppy-free country for the past several years, he said. That was attributable to the implementation of sustainable alternate development programmes in collaboration with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). However, the relatively costly and complex task of treatment and rehabilitation of 5 million drug addicts required international support. He hoped that the international community would assist Pakistan in this task.
LIM BEE KAU (Malaysia) said her country was concerned with the growth in crime rates worldwide, especially the disturbing use of new technologies from criminal purposes. In light of that and other new developments, Malaysia deemed it vital that sufficient cooperation and financial support – including the transfer of know-how and computer-based technology -- be shared by and among Member States to enable all societies to protect themselves from high-tech and computer-related crimes. Turning to the issue of terrorism, she said Malaysia strongly supported the coordinated efforts of the international community to combat that heinous crime. Since terrorism was a global problem, it demanded effective international action under the ambit of internationally accepted laws and conventions.
She said it was important to realize that efforts to combat terrorism would be futile in an environment where exacerbating factors, such as foreign occupation, injustice, exclusion, poverty and economic disparity, were allowed to thrive. Malaysia, therefore, believed the United Nations was the best forum in which to address those concerns, and would reiterate its call for the early convening of an international conference to discuss all aspects of terrorism, particularly the need for a concrete definition.
She noted with satisfaction the successful convening of the first and second sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a convention on corruption. Malaysia had various measures in place to combat that particular scourge, including legislation such as the 2001 Anti-Money laundering Act, which empowered the Anti-Corruption Agency to prevent illegal actions such as bribery and money laundering. Drug trafficking was an international problem, which no one country could combat on its own. While Malaysia was not a drug-producing country, it was aware that its was being used as a transit point. Along with creating its own policies to combat that problem, Malaysia believed efforts towards international drug control could be successful through coordinated and collective action at the national, regional and international levels.
GARY KOREN (Israel) said his country supported ODCCP’s efforts in promoting the entry into force of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes and its supplementary protocols. Israel also welcomed the new initiative of the international community to equip the world with a comprehensive, functional and effective international instrument to contain corruption. His country shared the concern of the international community regarding the threat of illicit drugs, and he believed that phenomenon must be combated. In that connection, the Committee was told about the Israeli Anti-Drug Authority, a national bureau empowered by law to coordinate efforts to combat drug abuse and trafficking. International cooperation was a vital component of efforts to combat transnational organized crime and drug trafficking.
Only through regional, subregional and international cooperation would one stop the drug scourge. Israel was, therefore, deeply disappointed by the lack of cooperation in the Middle East region. After all, Israel’s drug consumption problem consisted not only of the demand side, but also of the supply side, which originate mostly in neigbouring countries. Of particular concern was the renewed growth in Lebanon of cannabis and poppy seeds. There was no need to explain the dangerous links between drugs and terrorism in the Middle East. Hezbollah was the caretaker of drug growing, smuggling and terror financing. Hezbollah effectively controlled the Lebanese side of the border with Israel and, therefore, supervised the traffickers and the smuggling operations to the Israeli side. This year, Israeli intelligence had exposed the trafficking of firearms and explosives from Hizbullah to the terrorist organizations in the Palestinian territories. Drugs were used to finance this operation. Israel remained committed to the counter-terrorism effort in cooperation with other States.
SUSHILA KARKI (Nepal) said drug trafficking, crime, terrorism, corruption and money laundering were daunting challenges for the entire international community. And since the tragic events of 11 September 2001, every society, irrespective of region, size or economic status, was faced with that awareness. Moreover, while the international legal instruments aimed at combating terrorism were increasingly at the centre of broad efforts to address that issue, it had also become important to recognize that national capacities should also be complemented by international cooperation and assistance.
She said Nepal's Parliament had ratified various international instruments to combat criminal activity, including the Convention against Trafficking in Persons and Exploitation of Others. Nepal also would endorse the theme for the twelfth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention: "countering the trafficking in human beings". She also said Nepal appreciated the efforts of the international community to elaborate an international legal instrument against corruption.
The question of preventing and combating corrupt practices and the illicit transfer of funds, as well as promoting the recovery of such funds, should be an integral part of such a convention. The international community should support the efforts undertaken at the national level to strengthen the institutional capacity and regulatory framework for preventing corruption, bribery, money laundering and the transfer of illicit funds.
HAKAN TEKIN (Turkey) said Turkey’s bridging position between East and West made her prone to illicit drugs and human trafficking, and the Government was trying its best to fight those scourges. Yet, national measures alone were not adequate in countering those problems. After all, they were essentially of a global nature. The links between terrorism and transnational organized crime were expanding. Turkey had always underscored that drug trafficking constituted one of the largest sources of terrorist organizations. The multidimensional nature of the world drug problem necessitated a comprehensive and integrated approach that must take into account the economic, social and political factors underlying the problem. Strategies aimed at both supply and demand reduction must be effectively implemented in addressing the world drug problem. Alternative development must also be an indispensable component of those strategies to create sustainable economic and social conditions for rural communities in the regions where that problem persisted.
He told the Committee of national initiative undertaken in the fight against trafficking and illicit drugs. The Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime had been established in 2000 and served as a forum for exchange of expertise, providing training facilities to the countries in the region on issues such as money laundering, controlled deliveries and financial crimes. Sustained support towards the Academy would be invaluable for consolidating its accomplishment in contributing to law enforcement cooperation. Initiatives had also been taken in cooperation with the ODCCP, such as the summer camp "Basketball without Borders" with the participation of children and National Basketball Association (NBA) players from Turkey and Greece. Children from both countries, in additional playing with the NBA stars, took part in interactive seminars designed to promote leaderships and a healthy, drug-free life. Turkey would continue to be an active partner within the community of nations in that noble fight.
YUNUS BAZEL (Afghanistan) said the signature of the Bonn Agreement last December had marked a new era in Afghanistan's history. In line with that agreement, Afghanistan vowed to cooperate with the international community in the fight against terrorism, narcotics and organized crime. Two presidential decrees -- in February and April 2002 – had been issued against the cultivation and export of opium. The Transitional Authority had also re-established the "High State Commission" mandated to formulate policies and strategies at a national level to combat all aspects of the narcotic drug problem, and the Commission had opened provincial offices throughout the country. Moreover, the police and security forces continued to be actively engaged in the fight against narcotics.
Despite having faced some 23 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan remained steadfast in its efforts to return to normalcy. However, the lack of resources at the disposal of the Transitional Authority had impeded some efforts to achieve many of the country's desired objectives, including the eradication of poppy cultivation. All were aware of the devastating effects of poppy cultivation and the use of narcotics. Drugs ruined lives and communities, undermined sustainable human development and created organized criminal networks that further threatened Afghanistan's security.
Successful action against narcotics in Afghanistan required the strong commitment of the international community. In that regard, the introduction of alternative crops and development activities were important. The main objective of such a strategy should be to promote sustainable socio-economic options -- through integrated rural development -- for communities that had resorted to illicit cultivation as their only means of obtaining a livelihood. Such strategies should focus on demining projects, rehabilitation of irrigation systems, restoration of power stations, development of community infrastructure and the introduction of new and improved seeds and fertilizers as a substitute for opium-poppy crops.
LAMIN FAATI (Gambia) said his country had over the years pursued a stringent national policy on drug control and crime prevention. A major challenge was how to stem the tide of cross-border cannabis trafficking. The Gambia’s security agencies had been very successful in making a significant number of arrests and securing convictions. However, concerning drug-trafficking rings, it was his firm conviction that subregional cooperation in sharing intelligence and integration of policing efforts would serve as major tools in combating that menace. Alternative development must be considered as a strategy to dissuade producers from cultivating the crop in the region. The recent ODCCP report on trends revealed that the trafficking and consumption of cannabis was on the rise in West and Central Africa.
If the Gambia’s National Drug Squad, customs and police personnel were to successfully outmanoeuvre criminals and drug traffickers, the Gambia’s law enforcement agents must be well trained and adequately equipped to give meaning to international instruments and decisions. In its quest for crime prevention and criminal justice, his Government was pursuing a policy that responded to the needs of juvenile offenders. A user-friendly facility had been created with a curriculum designed to train young offenders in order to integrate them into the larger society as useful citizens. The programme was up and running, and there was a long-term vision to replicate it all over the country. He thanked the British Government for the assistance they were providing in that regard and stressed that international crime prevention must start with the rehabilitation of young offenders.
SOO-HYUN KIM (Republic of Korea) said 11 September had underscored the gravity and intensity of the problems of transnational crime. One alarming transnational phenomenon on the rise and a complex human rights concern was trafficking in persons. The international community had rightly become increasingly concerned about that growing crime, and that concern must be translated into concrete law enforcement actions within and across borders at the regional and international levels, to adequately prevent and prosecute such illicit flows and protect their victims. The Republic of Korea had directed resources to establish institutions, enact relevant legal measures and encourage the participation of civil society in order to effectively combat that trans-border crime within its domestic boundaries.
In the fight against transnational organized crime, the most effective strategy was to negate the profitability of such activities, she said. Towards that end, the General Assembly had called for the elaboration of the United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention to serve as a complementary legal pillar to the Transnational Organized Crime Convention. The Republic of Korea fully believed that the development of an effective, universal legal instrument against corruption was urgently needed. Domestically, anti-corruption action was a priority task of the Government. It was evident that national parliaments and local administrations had an important role to play in creating a supportive and safe environment that would ensure high standards of integrity for all. National measures had been implemented, including the launching of a national anti-corruption committee to oversee and stem corrupt practices, particularly involving public officials.
ELENA MOLARONI (San Marino) said that since 11 September, the very nature of crime prevention had changed. Terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational organized crimes had emerged as closely linked and interrelated. It was necessary for the international community to cooperate in order to fight such scourges. In that context, the Government of San Marino believed that a Convention against Corruption could also play an important role. Concerning terrorism, she stressed the importance of all countries adhering and complying with all relevant Security Council resolutions. The need for an all-comprehensive convention on terrorism should not be underestimated.
It was underlined that the answer to terrorism could not be limited to politics and military measures alone. It was necessary to fight the plague at its roots, where it received its nourishment. That involved taking a serious look at drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. In San Marino, like many other countries, drugs were on the rise -- younger and younger children were falling victim. She stressed the importance of United Nations General Assembly special session on drug control and its follow-up. Focus was needed on alternative development which was one of the toughest challenges as it involved poverty. There was a clear link between the increase in poverty and the rise in drug production, and it was necessary to assist developing countries with their poverty-reduction strategies. San Marino stood ready to cooperate with all countries, particularly developing countries, in crime prevention efforts.
The following statements were made during the Committee’s afternoon meeting.
LUIS E. CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said there was a unanimous consensus that contemporary forms of organized crime had succeeded in carrying on criminal activities that were increasingly lucrative, reaching beyond national borders and, many times, escaping national control and jurisdiction. Another point of international consensus was the need to cooperate to prevent and combat transnational organized crime. Argentina had played an active role in the negotiations on the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three Protocols and hoped that many more States would become parties of those instruments and act jointly against those contemporary forms of crime.
He said corruption was an evil that depleted the resources needed for development and social protection, eroded the reputation of politicians and threatened democracy and stability. Therefore, it was necessary to combat all aspects of the problem. Not only those who took bribes, but also those who offered it and who did business with illicit money were criminals. It was vital for developing countries that a Convention against Corruption foresaw different mechanisms to recover funds from corruption, and also that it punished acts of illicitly enriching public servants. On terrorism, he noted that one lesson learned from 11 September was that terrorism was based on a multiplicity of crimes and took advantage of transit and communication networks originally designed to expand trade, well-being and understanding among peoples.
ALHAJI BELLO LAFIAJI, Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency of Nigeria, said the illicit trade in narcotic drugs continued to inflict untold damage on the sustainable human development of countless nations worldwide. The same was true of other criminal activities that were funded by the drug trade, such as money laundering, fraud and terrorism. Also troubling was the increasingly blatant application of new communication technologies to plan and carry out sophisticated criminal activities. With all that in mind, it was critical for the international community to put into place measures to address corruption and the tracing and recovery of illicit funds.
He said the United Nations African Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders had made significant gains in combating the illicit drug trade at national, regional and international levels. For its part, Nigeria had confiscated and destroyed over 200,000 kilos of illicit drugs over the past year, and, in collaboration with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, had instituted a programme to monitor drug traffickers and their activities within the West African subregion.
National legislation had targeted the practices of banks and financial institutions in an effort to more comprehensively address the issue of corruption, he said. Banks which allowed their facilities and services to be used to perpetrate financial scams now had to indemnify victims to the extent of total losses incurred. Many victims had already been compensated under that policy, and a total of 22 banks recently had been sanctioned for by the Nigerian Central Bank for various illegal activities.
Nigeria especially appreciated efforts to prevent corruption and the transfer of illicit funds, he said. The placement of stolen public monies from developing countries in foreign banks of rich countries constituted a severe assault on the prosperity of millions of people in the affected countries. It was, therefore, necessary to take concrete action to stop such practices and pronounce them "economic crimes against humanity" Indeed, a situation in which African and other developing countries use over 40 per cent of their annual earnings to service external debt, while a huge portion of their stolen funds were stashed away in foreign banks, was totally unacceptable. It was absolutely necessary to recover such funds and return them to their countries of origin.
SAID SHIHAB AHMAD (Iraq) said there was no doubt that the problem of drugs was one of the most serious problems in society. Drugs targeted all segments of all societies, but first and foremost the youth. National, regional and international cooperation was needed to put an end to the vicious circle of the production, manufacturing and promotion of drugs. Iraq had always played an active role in such cooperation related to drugs control and had joined the International Convention on Drugs, as a manifestation of principled objection to the use of drugs. Iraq was located between producing and consuming regions, and it was important for the Iraqi Government to prevent Iraq from becoming a transit country. A National Committee on Drug Control had been established to that end, and all Iraqi legislation and the efforts deployed by the Ministry for Health aimed to put an end to the misuse of drugs.
Iraq had prohibited the cultivation of drug crops and had launched a campaign to raise awareness of the horrendous effects of the misuse of drugs. Unfortunately, due to the abnormal situation in Iraq -- the economic blockade and military interventions -- Iraq had been affected by foreign elements attempting to use Iraq as a transit country for horrendous drugs, such as cocaine, cannabis, opium and heroin. The situation for the Government was difficult, given the current situation in the country; however, all attempts were being made to prevent and prohibit the misuse of drugs.
AHMED GZLLAL (Libya) said his country appreciated the efforts of the ODCCP to provide technical assistance to combat the illicit drug trade. The scourge of drug abuse generally began as mere curiosity and ended with the loss of the soul. Drug abuse also undermined human dignity, honour and will. It was a social danger which gradually effected youth and, ultimately, crippled the future of many countries. The international community must be vigilant of all the dangers of drug use, including illness, addiction and death, in order to cope with its devastating and evil effects. He said Libya was sincerely concerned by report highlighting the increasing use of the Internet and other new technologies in perpetrating criminal activity.
Libya had only faced the drug problem for a short while, he said. And although it was not a producer of drugs, its geographical location made it a transit point. Certain organized criminal drug networks were known to operate in the region and in border areas, and that had spurred the Government to enact harsh policies to curb those activities at all points of transit. Libya had, likewise, acceded to all relevant international instruments and had organized a week each year to raise awareness of the devastating effects of drug use. Still, the depth of the drug problem threatened many of Libya's efforts. It was, therefore, imperative for the international community to cooperate and coordinate all efforts to counter the world drug problem.
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