TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, COOPERATION NEEDED TO COMBAT TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD AS DEBATE CONCLUDES ON DRUGS, CRIME
NEW YORK, 2 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Third Committee this morning concluded its consideration of matters related to crime and the world drug problem, a strong consensus emerged that such global security threats must be tackled comprehensively and with a lasting commitment that ensured much needed technical cooperation and assistance to combat transnational organized crime and to strengthen capacity-building and national institutions.
Speaking on behalf the Pacific Islands Forum, the representative of Fiji said his region was addressing transnational organized crime in its shared responsibility towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Pacific region was now developing mechanisms for improved coordination of training and technical assistance, together with the collection of information and analysis of the status of the drug situation and illegal people movements in the region.
He added that such regional activities served not only to strengthen regional efforts to combat crime, but also to maximize returns through pooling of resources. Still, further technical assistance and cooperation both for the Millennium Development Goals and for integral treatment of these issues would provide added value to regional activities.
The representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said both transnational organized crime and the illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs had devastating consequences for the Caribbean region. Trafficking in drugs and small arms represented a grave challenge to the social fabric of societies and attacked the region’s most valuable resources –- its human capital and prospects for growth and development.
He said that many CARICOM States had become pawns in the dangerous game played by drug traffickers. Transit States sat at the nexus of supply and demand, and the spillover effects contributed to the rise of crime and levels of violence. Success in combating the drug trade required action on all fronts including the revisiting of underlying international economic relations, which affected the development prospect.
Highlighting the links between unfair international trading systems and drug-oriented problems, the representative of Ethiopia said the lack of markets for export commodities from poor countries directly affected the livelihood of farmers, forcing them to turn to narcotic cash crops. Action against the world drug problem was a shared responsibility calling for a fair international trading system and enhanced financial and technical assistance.
The representative of Colombia told the Committee that his country was following two strategies to eliminate illicit crops -– one promoting alternative development and the other intensifying eradication. The alternative development approach aimed to replace illicit crops by small farmers and indigenous communities as their means of subsistence. During the last four years, more than $130 million had been earmarked for alternative development programs.
The representative of Thailand, host country of the upcoming Eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, said his Government had strengthened law enforcement and criminal justice structures against drug manufacturers and traffickers. He added that alternative development programmes had proved to be an effective tool in curbing the production of illicit drug crops. However, to ensure the sustainability of such programmes, the international community should provide help to increase market access for developing countries.
Also participating in today’s general debate were the representatives of Venezuela, Russian Federation, China, Uganda, Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Indonesia, Croatia, Mali, El Salvador, Iran, Morocco, Kuwait and Haiti.
The representative of Lebanon spoke in right of reply.
The Committee will reconvene tomorrow at 3 p.m. to begin its consideration of matters related to social development, including the world social situation, youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) met this morning to conclude its annual consideration of matters related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
ADRIANA PULIDO (Venezuela) said crime prevention and criminal justice had direct links to respect for human rights and sustainable development. One approach in eradicating crime was therefore to ensure a general eradication of inequalities in developing countries, and intensified international cooperation and assistance was needed for that effort. She informed the Committee that Venezuela had ratified the Convention against Organized Transnational Crime as well as the three protocols in April of this year. The Convention was an important instrument that supplemented Venezuela’s domestic laws on crime prevention. Venezuela was particularly alarmed by the increase in information crimes and suggested further international cooperation ensuring severe punishment for such crimes.
Concerning corruption, it was necessary for institutions that fought the scourge of corruption to link corruption to the existence of poverty. In developing countries, corruption and corrupt leaders and companies often usurped resources that could be used for social services and health care. It was only through severe punishment and a control system that corruption could be stopped. Concerning illicit drugs, Venezuela was alarmed at the increasing power and violence of narco-terrorists and the growing international and transnational links between such groups. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs had taken significant steps on these issues; however much remained to be done. Venezuela supported the preparation of a number of ministerial meetings in the framework of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Regarding international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, a method of shared responsibility was required. It was important to target all aspects of the chain of drug trafficking, as well as providing alternative development.
DIMITRY LOBATCH (Russian Federation) said his delegation had consistently favoured the position of the United Nations for coordinating international policies on crime prevention and worldwide drug control. Another important weapon in the fight against transnational criminality was the comprehensive international legal structure that had been adopted over the years. It was most important to ensure that those important mechanisms and instruments were supported, promoted and ratified at all levels and by all States. The elaboration of an international convention against corruption was most urgent.
He went on to say that one of the most effective ways to combat international crime was to tackle money-laundering schemes. Russia had taken part in many regional efforts to combat that scourge, particularly those aimed at the confiscation of such illegally acquired funds. The Russian Parliament had adopted a law to criminalize money laundering, and the Government had established a relevant Committee to maintain databases on such activities and to ensure cooperation with competent bodies in neighbouring States. Russia had also begun to step up its programmes to address high-tech criminal activity. Indeed the Government had been unaware of the breadth and sophistication of such crimes and was now urgently moving to tackle cyber-crimes and illegal online practices.
He said Russia attached great importance to the development of international cooperation in combating drug abuse and trafficking. It was committed to the outcomes of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly on combating the drug problem together. Russia planned to create an international training centre for law enforcement officers, which would be an effective way to provide model training for people throughout the region of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Russia would also urge the international community to cooperate on maintaining the important "safety belts" in areas around Afghanistan’s borders. Indeed, armed drug runners attempting to cross those borders into other countries consistently clashed with regional law enforcement officers. He emphasized the importance of strengthening the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) to help curb such activities.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said new global developments in technology and the growth of the communications revolution, while facilitating freedom of movement across borders, had also created opportunities for extending criminal activities, thus expanding the global impact of drug trafficking and terrorism. This demanded a coordinated global response which gave priority to full international cooperation in strengthening the existing legal framework on all fronts and at all levels. CARICOM member States recognized the significance of these instruments in the global fight against transnational criminality and welcomed the adoption of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The conclusion of negotiations on the Convention against Corruption would also mark a new milestone in the international community’s efforts to formulate effective strategic responses to a practice which threatened global economic and social development.
Both transnational organized crime and the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs had had devastating consequences for small States in the Caribbean region, he said. The region was especially affected by the transhipment of drugs given its geographic location. Both drugs and small arms represented for the region not only a grave challenge to the social fabric of societies, but also an attack on the region’s most valuable resources -– its human capital and prospect for growth and development. In July 2001, a Regional Task Force on Crime and Security had been established in the region and had initiated a comprehensive examination of the links among crime, drugs and small arms in the region. The Task Force had recommended, among other things, the strengthening of law enforcement agencies through training, improved intelligence and information exchange, and the establishment of a Regional Rapid Response Mechanism to support national investigative mechanisms.
Many CARICOM States had unfortunately become pawns in the dangerous game played by drug traffickers. Transit States sat at the nexus of supply and demand, neither producing illicit drugs, nor serving as the final destination for those drugs. Yet, the spillover effects had a devastating impact on the societies and economies of such States, contributing to the rise of crime and levels of violence. Drug demand represented a critical element in the fight against illicit drugs. Without a balanced approach to both demand and supply reduction the illicit trade in drugs could not be effectively addressed, he stressed. CARICOM emphasized that success in combating the drug trade required action on all fronts including the revisiting of underlying international economic relations, which affected the prospects for development
XIE BOHUA (China) said for a long time, the international community had been engaged in a struggle against illicit drugs, with encouraging results in many cases. Nevertheless, the world still faced a grim picture as new stimulant-type drugs were spreading rapidly, even as efforts to address the deleterious effects of more traditional drugs continued. There was also an increasing tendency for drugs and drug-related transnational crimes to prompt the creation of networks and cartels with international reach. Faced with the worldwide public hazards posed by drug abuse and the drug trade, particularly the recognized threat to development, the international community should continue to follow the principle of wide participation and shared responsibility. All should work to implement an integrated and balanced strategy.
He said the Chinese Government had always attached great importance to the fight against drugs. In 2001, China had uncovered 110,000 cases of drug-related crimes, seized 13.2 tons of opium, 4.8 tons of "ice" and had confiscated some 200 tons of precursor chemicals. With a view toward reaching the fundamental goal of "absolute prohibition of drugs", the Chinese Government was making drug control one of its basic national policies and had incorporated it into its programme of economic and social development. In combating drug-related criminal activities, China has also stepped up its efforts in controlling precursor chemicals, treating and rehabilitating addicts, enhancing awareness and launching relevant education programmes.
LULIT ZEWDIE G/MARIAM (Ethiopia) said that problems of human development which were once much easier to contain within national borders, were becoming worldwide problems. Transnational organized crimes, such as illicit drug trafficking, trafficking of firearms and persons, corruption and illegal transfer of funds and terrorism, were major problems which called for global solutions and strong commitment. In this context it was encouraging to witness the determination of the international community to fight corrupt practices and the illicit transfer of funds. Corrupt practices posed serious threats to stability and security, as well as the values of democracy and morality. The determination of the international community in the fight against corruption must be complemented by concrete visions and action plans which included, among others, the moral, ethical as well as the preventive and remedial aspects of the problem.
Ethiopia had been taking the necessary measures to combat and eradicate corrupt practices. A Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission had been established to create awareness among the society in general and to help prevent corruption offences and other improprieties. The Commission was already engaged in identifying suspects and had filed cases against them. In addition, efforts had been made to control and prevent the trafficking and cultivation of illegal drugs, and youth -- the most vulnerable group of society -- was being educated about the negative consequences of drugs.
She concluded by highlighting the link between unfair international trading systems and drug-oriented problems. The lack of markets for export commodities originating from poor countries, would directly affect the livelihood of farmers, forcing them to turn to narcotic cash crops. Action against the world drug problem was a shared responsibility calling for a fair international trade system and enhanced financial and technical assistance.
CATHERINE OTITI (Uganda) said just as the international community had recognized that the world drug problem needed to be countered together, it should also realize the same was true for tackling worldwide crime. Other factors, which might exacerbate criminal activity, such as poverty and disease, must also be considered. She urged global actors to remember, however, that although criminals always impoverished societies and communities, poor people did not always become criminals.
She went on to say that her Government continued to undertake steps to combat crime. The Ministry of Ethics and Integrity was actively administering efforts to control corruption and other related crimes. The Government had also made local communities a priority focus of its crime prevention efforts. Concerning the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI), it was encouraging to note that in spite of the meager resources that important agency received, it had been able to institute a number of programmes. It was important to continue to support this important agency. She congratulated the Governments of Mexico and Thailand for their offers to host the High-level Political Event for the signing of the convention against corruption and the Eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention, respectively.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that to combat transnational organized crime there must be sufficient infrastructure as well as implementing mechanisms to ensure success. Sharing of best practices in weeding out international crime was helpful in dealing with transnational organized crime, particularly in terms of trafficking in human beings. Many developing countries were dealing with trafficking in human beings and in this regard, international cooperation was crucial. Human trafficking remained the third largest organized criminal activity. It was also a gross violation of human rights. One could not exaggerate the need for industrialized countries to help developing countries fight international organized crime. The Philippines was about to implement an action plan, which included the need to form a national coalition against trafficking in human beings. The plan required close coordination among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. It also included a special bill against trafficking in persons, training for law enforcers, prosecutors, social workers and other frontline officers, as well as a comprehensive public awareness campaign program.
In addition, the Philippine Government would continue to work with the international community in fighting terrorism, he said. International cooperation was needed to ensure that terrorists no longer took advantage of weaknesses in international law enforcement or judicial cooperation. Concerning corruption, he informed the Committee that his Government gave importance to addressing effectively public corruption. Public corruption exacted high costs from public budgets that were often limited and diverted revenues away from social programmes. Illicit drug abuse and trafficking was a global problem that no single country alone could address. The international community must make collective efforts and share responsibility in addressing the root causes of the problem.
OUNSENG VIXAY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said the complexities of the world drug problem required tackling demand, production, trafficking and distribution of narcotics and psychotropic substances, as well as related criminal activity. Narcotic drugs had no nationalities and did jot respect borders. As far as his country was concerned, the drug problem -- which had previously manifested itself mainly in the areas of opium production and large numbers of opium addicts -– had long been a national priority. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was now a final destination point for synthetic drugs and amphetamines. With that in mind, he went on to highlight his country’s measures to combat drugs, in line with the "Drug Free ASEAN" Action Plan through 2015.
In the field of strengthening institutions, he said the President had issued a decree appointing an Anti-Drug Control Board, chaired by the prime Minister. In the field of supply reduction, the Government, in cooperation with the United Nations, had implemented initiatives to eradicate poppy cultivation by 2006. That plan seemed to be on track, and in fact, positive results had advanced the target date by one year, to 2005. In the field of demand reduction, various activities had been undertaken, including the introduction of a drug prevention curriculum in primary and middle schools, and the creation of programmes specifically targeted to reduce demand in urban areas. In law enforcement, the Government had expanded its efforts to target his country’s most sensitive border areas.
ANDREI N. POPKOV (Belarus) said the creation of national machinery to repress criminality was of particular interest to Belarus. The growth of international crime required effective and immediate action on the part of the international community, and the United Nations must play the role of a leader in the fight against transnational crime. The adoption of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime would surely improve the coordination and action of the international community. Another important issue was the battle against terrorism, and he thanked the Secretary-General for his report and agreed with the need to strengthen the Secretariat’s terrorism branch.
The prevention of illegal drug trafficking and the spread of drug abuse in the world was one of the major priorities of his Government. Programmes had been implemented dealing not only with law enforcement, but with legal mechanisms as well as the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts. International instruments in this area were important, and the importance of international cooperation could not be overestimated. Belarus was working in cooperation with other CIS, European and Asian countries in the fight against illegal drugs. Belarus, due to its geographical location, had historically been a transit country. However, these days, Belarus showed symptoms of becoming a using country. This had had devastating effects on the social fabric of the country, including the rise of HIV/AIDS due to intravenous drug abuse.
APIRATH VIENRAVI (Thailand) said narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances were a menace to all societies. Their adverse impacts went far beyond merely health issues and criminality. Indeed, those drugs undermined socio-economic development as well as human and national security. They enslaved the world’s children and aggravated the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and the production and trafficking of such drugs constituted a serious crime against humanity. Recognizing all the complexities of the drug problem meant that it should be treated as a cross-cutting issue which must be addressed in a direct and decisive manner at national, regional and international levels.
With all that in mind, he said that Thailand’s utmost concern was the spread of amphetamine-type stimulants, namely methamphetamines and ecstasy. The small size and ease of use of such drugs allowed traffickers to smuggle them easily. Despite vigorous prevention and suppression efforts, the statistics on the confiscation of such drugs in 2001 indicated that trafficking remained rampant. And in the first half of 2002, about 5 tons –- some 60 million tablets –- of ecstasy had been seized in Thailand. The Government had been ever vigilant in the fight against drugs at all levels, focusing particularly on families and local communities. Indeed an overall "partnership against drugs" had been created.
He said the Government had pursued demand reduction strategies which emphasized prevention through education and public awareness campaigns with particular focus on the most vulnerable sectors of society, namely children and youth. On the supply side, the Government had strengthened law enforcement and criminal justice structures against drug manufacturers and traffickers. He added that alternative development programmes had also proved to be an effective tool in curbing the production of illicit drug crops. However, to the sustainability of such programmes, the international community should provide help to increase market access for the products concerned. Thailand was pleased to host the upcoming Eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
Mr. KHRYSTYCH (Ukraine) said the concept of fighting drug abuse had been duly reflected in the relevant national programme of his country. Special attention had been paid to the improvement of the control over the consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and precursors. The focus was on preventive measures to reduce illicit drug use and offer medical treatment of drug addicts on demand, increased public information campaigns, involving all State institutions; and strengthening relevant international cooperation. It was well known that there was a direct link between HIV/AIDS and drug abuse. In Ukraine, according to the latest data of the Ukrainian Centre for AIDS Prevention, several officially registered people with HIV had been infected through narcotic drugs use. Thus, drug takers were one of the most HIV-vulnerable groups of society. Greater cooperation between States and international organizations was required to prevent the spread of the disease and to provide care of HIV-infected drug addicts.
He added that combating corruption was one of the priorities of Ukraine’s national policy. Ukraine had made substantial efforts to improve its national capacity to fight crime and corruption, as well as to develop active bilateral and multilateral cooperation in this field. To implement fully the measures set forth in the Palermo Convention against transnational organized crime it was necessary to take decisive action against corruption, and Ukraine supported the elaboration of a new internationally binding document on that issue. He welcomed the efforts of the international community to combat the spread of modern forms of crime, namely, cyber-crimes, and stressed that measures to combat computer terrorism must be reflected in the national legislation of all countries.
LUCIA HELWINDA RUSTAM (Indonesia) said international crime had ridden the wave of globalization and was now a significant threat to the entire world community. In that regard, fighting transnational crime required broad cooperative efforts, with the United Nations in the leading role. Along with corruption, another significant category of transnational crime was people smuggling, including not only the smuggling of migrants but trafficking in persons as if they were commodities. Those practices were some of the worst crimes against humanity. And Indonesia believed they could only be solved through multilateral efforts and on the basis of equality between sovereign States. Her Government, along with the Government of Australia, had co-chaired the regional ministerial conference on trafficking in persons in Bali last February.
Concerning efforts to suppress the illicit drug trade, Indonesia believed that, with so many nations suffering, everyone should join together to save the world’s children from drug addiction and the crime and violence associated with drug use. Towards that end, Indonesia had taken measures at the national, regional and international level to combat the illicit drug trade. Earlier this year, a national Narcotics Board had been established to strengthen cooperation with other nations. She added that technical and financial assistance was essential to assist nations like Indonesia –- those that wished to do their part as responsible members of the international community to combat the evils of transnational crime and terrorism.
ANDREJ DOGAN (Croatia) said the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime was one of the key instruments in the struggle against international crime. Croatia welcomed the preparations for the eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to be held in Thailand in 2005 and believed that the Congress would further strengthen international efforts in fighting all forms of modern crime. His country was also active in the negotiations on the United Nations convention against corruption and hoped that the negotiations would conclude and that this very important international instrument would be open for signature by the end of 2003.
On the domestic level, the Croatian Government had formed the Office for the Fight against Corruption and Organized Crime. The Government was also currently in the process of justice reform, which targeted, among other things, a more efficient fight against corruption and organized crime, especially economic crime and corruption in international business. He stressed Croatia’s conviction that corruption was one of the biggest obstacles to the economic development and prosperity for developing countries and economies in transition.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) said the issues of crime and international drug control were constant challenges for the international community. On the anniversary of the tragic events of 11 September, it was more urgent than ever to confront the problem of international terrorism. For its part, Mali had ratified all international instruments on that scourge. It had also ratified the Convention against Transnational Crime and welcomed the work being done on the negotiation of a convention against corruption. Mali also looked forward to the up-coming Eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCIA GONZALEZ (El Salvador) said that the Government of El Salvador firmly believed that the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime would be an effective instrument and the appropriate legal framework to combat money laundering, corruption and trafficking. El Salvador had recently signed the three major protocols to the Convention, and had further strengthened its political will to combat transnational organized crime. The Government was pleased that the Commission on Crime Prevention had decided to devote the next session to trafficking of human beings. This was a threat that had taken on alarming proportions.
Concerning corruption, he stressed that to developing countries, corruption was a real threat and could have particularly devastating effects on the population. It was therefore essential to establish policies and mechanisms to prevent that phenomenon, and such policies must be based on transparency on all levels. Negotiations on the Convention against Corruption would be important. El Salvador also attached importance to the fight against illicit drugs and believed that action needed to be taken on local, national, regional and international levels. His Government supported all actions that would combat drug trafficking and related crimes. His Government was committed to strengthening both national and international efforts to eradicate illicit drugs.
MOSTAFA ALAEI (Iran) said his country was becoming increasingly vulnerable to the illicit drug trade. Indeed, Iran was located along Central Asia’s "highway" of illicit drug traffic –- with drugs and natural narcotics such as poppy straw moved from Afghanistan and eastern borders to the West. Attempting to strike a balance between prevention, treatment, and law enforcement activities, Iran had assumed that demand reduction was as important as supply reduction. Emphasis had been placed on creating effective prevention programmes targeted to youth and high-risk groups.
He went on to say that more than 3,000 Iranian policemen had lost their lives in the fight against narco-trafficking. Drug money had become a source of funding for various types of criminal activity, and the Government was currently spending some $2 billion a year to keep up with the demands of countering all aspects of the drug trade. Sadly, that was money that could be otherwise spent on education for the children of the country. Iran penalized consumption and, in order to avoid the recycling of drug profits, it had codified the crime of money laundering.
Recently the High Council for National Security had been studying Iran’s drug problem and had come up with a strategy for strengthening national drug coordinating mechanisms. That Council had suggested designating a special independent drug law enforcement agency, revising and amending the Anti-Narcotics Law to facilitate the work of enforcement agencies, and designating a time frame for substantially decreasing cases of illicit drug use throughout the country. He announced that Iran was hosting the thirty-seventh session of the Sub-Commission on Illicit Drug Traffic and Related Matters in the Near and Middle East, in Tehran from 14 to 18 October, and expected wide participation from the international community.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said the terrorist attacks of 11 September had unambiguously demonstrated the need for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. It was well known that terrorism threatened all countries and societies, and Morocco welcomed the Secretary-General’s call to strengthen the work of the United Nations on terrorism. Morocco also shared the concern of other delegations as to the real and active threat of transnational organized crime, and stressed the importance of progress achieved in the preparation of the eleventh Congress on Crime Prevention.
During the General Assembly’s special session on drugs, all countries had vowed, in a declaration, to battle illicit drugs. Morocco had undertaken several initiatives to pursue the programme of action regarding drug control, money laundering and transnational organized crime. His country had established a National Commission on Drugs, and a coordination unit in the anti-drugs fight. An agency for the promotion and economic and social development of the northern provinces had also been established. In fact, a substantial part of the Moroccan budget had been dedicated to fighting illicit drugs, particularly in the north. He stressed that the financial cost of dealing with illicit drugs could be considerable and highlighted the importance of international assistance. He emphasized the need for international cooperation regarding to transnational organized crime, money laundering, corruption and drug trafficking.
NAWAF AL-ENEZI (Kuwait) said the phenomenon of terrorism could not be tied to any one religion, region or cultural heritage. The eradication of that scourge could only be achieved through the cooperative efforts of the international community under the auspices of the United Nations. Kuwait had adopted an act to combat money laundering operations and another to regulate the collection of donations so that they would not be used for illicit purposes.
He said Kuwait had also undertaken extensive measures to combat illicit drugs. Some of the most successful regulations had included a Princely Decree on psychotropic substances and the treatment of addicts, and another for setting up a National Committee for Combating Narcotic Drugs. That Committee was charged with harmonizing national policies at all levels. In the private sector, philanthropic agencies were actively engaged in awareness-raising information campaigns and programmes. Many joint activities had been created which focused specifically on children and youth. Kuwait was party to many bilateral conventions to combat drugs and criminal activity. He urged that assistance be given to disadvantaged countries, particularly those that were attempting to establish programmes of alternative crop production.
PAUL-PROMPT YOURI EMMANUEL (Haiti) said today more than ever the problem of drugs was a challenge, which needed to be faced by the world. The Haitian authorities had been anxious to respect the various United Nations commitments relevant to illicit drugs and had spared no effort to provide a response equal to the threat. National structures had been strengthened throughout the country, and laws had been reformed and updated on issues such as money laundering from illicit drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes. A financial intelligence unit had been established, and the Parliament had mobilized to take further action on both drug trafficking and corruption. The Haitian Government had also established a National Committee against Drugs and a National Coordinator for Drug Control. These were measures that indicated the clear desire of the Haitian Government to counter drug trafficking, despite a severe lack of resources.
Haiti, in its efforts to counter transnational organized crime, would have to rely on the technical and financial assistance of the international community, he stressed. It was exceptionally difficult for poorer countries to counter threats like money laundering and drug trafficking without international support. The prevalence of crime was also linked to poverty, he said. For example, unemployment was both a cause and effect of the drug trade. Transnational crimes took a heavy toll on humankind, and only a system of effective criminal justice could eradicate transnational organized crime forever. The Government of Haiti intended to consolidate its legal system to guarantee effective security through the law for all its citizens.
AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said given the nature of international criminal activity, the Group hoped to combat transnational organized crime through regional cooperation in developing and strengthening their security and law enforcement arrangements. The region had made positive strides in the development of draft legislation on weapons control, illicit drug control and in sharing information through the creation of Domestic Financial Intelligence Units. There were also regional initiatives on joint specialist training and enhanced cooperation through the Combined Law Agency Groups. Such regional activities served not only to strengthen regional efforts to combat crime, but also to maximize returns through pooling of resources.
The Forum Leaders in their meeting in 2000 had noted shortcomings in the operation of illicit drug legislation within the region. As a result, a joint working group of Forum members and law enforcement agencies had been convened to assess current legislation with a view to providing a common framework including model legislation. The Pacific region was now developing mechanisms for improved coordination of training and technical assistance, together with the collection of information and analysis of the status of the drug situation and illegal people movements in the region. The region was addressing these emerging areas of concern seriously in its shared responsibility towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Technical assistance and cooperation both for the Millennium Development Goals and for integral treatment of these issues would provide added value to regional activities, he said.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the importance of the principle of shared responsibility had been reaffirmed by Colombia in several international forums. Colombia believed this principle must be applied not just in the fight against illicit drugs, but also in efforts against transnational crime. In this sense, international cooperation was more an imperative than an option. At the national level, Colombia was carrying out an ambitious programme against corruption that included the following initiatives: public audiences and mechanisms to oversee public contracts by the State, publicity and cost-comparison mechanisms for official procurements, establishment of transparency in schools and colleges, and the elimination of unnecessary paperwork.
The demand for, production of and trafficking in illicit drugs and psychotropic substances, and related criminal acts such as money laundering and illicit trafficking in arms and chemical precursors undermined economic and social development, he said. Colombia was implementing an integral policy to combat drugs, including a coordinated strategy to prevent consumption. The Government was following two complementary but differentiated strategies to eliminate illicit crops –- one to promote alternative development and the other to intensify eradication. Alternative development aimed to replace illicit crops by small farmers and indigenous communities, and during the last four years more than $130 million had been earmarked for alternative development programmes. It was clear, however, that no effort to counter drugs and violence would be sufficient as long as arms, ammunitions and explosives used in terrorist acts continued to flow into countries, and as long as chemical precursors used for drug production continued to sustain transnational criminal networks. An extensive and well-coordinated response was crucial.
Right of Reply
The representative of Lebanon, exercising his right of reply, said it had been no surprise that Israel had taken the floor to politicize the matter of international drug control and crime prevention. Highlighting some of his country’s successful efforts at the eradication and control of narcotics and drug crops, he said the positive results of many of Lebanon’s initiatives had been widely recognized by the international community. The country was no longer seen as a major production or transit country, and the Government had extended every effort to ensure that no production laboratories were operational.
That had not been enough, and Lebanon’s Foreign Minister had vowed to go further, by instituting measures to ensure the destruction of plantations every year so that no farmer ever thought about returning to drug production. Thus far, he said 28,000 acres of hemp had been destroyed. Many crops had even eradicated by farmers themselves. The scope of the operations on the ground had had a negative effect on farmers, resulting in a loss of nearly half a billion dollars in income.
He added that the money previously generated by those farmers of illicit crops in the South had been used to finance Israel’s surrogate army that had been operating in and occupying that region for years. Those forces were now threatening Lebanon’s efforts to enhance irrigation systems for farmers in desperate need. He said that Israel’s accusation that Hezbollah had been smuggling drugs was nothing but pure provocation. Israel should be careful about throwing around such accusations. That country’s comments had been nothing but a blatant and baseless attempt to politicize the important work of the Committee.
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