Press Releases

     

    GA/SHC/3740

    10 October 2003

    THIRD COMMITTEE FOCUSES ON CORRUPTION, ORGANIZED
    CRIME, AS DEBATE BEGINS ON ILLICIT DRUGS,
    CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES

    NEW YORK, 9 October (UN Headquarters) -- Modern technology enabled criminals to launder money, commit large-scale fraud, attack computer systems and disseminate paedophile material, said the Executive Director of the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) began its consideration of issues related to crime prevention and international drug control this afternoon.

    His Office had recently developed a composite index of organized crime, combining data on over 10 factors -- perceptions of organized crime and high-level corruption by business leaders, the extent of the grey economy, the degree of arms and tobacco smuggling, levels of human trafficking, car theft and money laundering.  Results showed that sub-Saharan Africa appeared to be the region most affected by organized crime, followed by Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Regarding drugs, he said that a sizeable reduction of opium and coca cultivation had taken place in Asia and the Andean countries, with the exception of Colombia and Afghanistan.  There had been a significant reduction in cocaine and heroin abuse in North America and Western Europe as new markets had emerged in Eastern Europe, Russia and China.  Concern was raised about the increasing consumption and trafficking of drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamine-type stimulants.

    In a subsequent question-and-answer session, government delegates raised questions related to cooperation and partnership building in order to fight organized crime and drugs.  One representative asked how the UNODC would tailor approaches to fight crime and drugs in different geopolitical and socio-economic situations.  Delegations also made the link between poverty and drug cultivation and stressed the need for the international community to support alternative agricultural development projects.

    The Under-Secretary for Global Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, Patricia Olamendi Olavarrieta also addressed the Committee this afternoon.  Mexico is the host country for the up-coming political conference on crime prevention and drug control to be held from 9 to 11 December.  During the conference, there will be a signing ceremony concerning the ratification of the draft United Nations convention against corruption.

    The representative of the United States, as well as many other delegates, stressed that in October 2003, the international community had seen a landmark achievement in the fight against crime.  After two years of negotiations involving some 130 countries, Member States had successfully concluded the draft convention against corruption.  In addition, on 29 September, the Transnational Organized Crime Convention had entered into force and had been ratified by over 50 countries.  The application of these new legal instruments would provide governments with additional tools to cooperate against these transnational threats.

    In addition to the issue of corruption, delegations addressed other aspects of crime and crime prevention this afternoon, including money laundering and trafficking in both persons and illegal substances.  It was stressed that international and regional cooperation was essential in order to make headway in the fight against problems that were transnational in nature.  Concerning drugs, delegates informed the Committee about national comprehensive approaches to simultaneously fight drug consumption, cultivation and trafficking.

    Also speaking this afternoon were representatives of the following countries:  Peru (speaking on behalf of the Rio Group), Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Cuba, China, Zambia (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Egypt, Ukraine, Myanmar, Japan, Belarus and Lebanon.

    The Committee will reconvene Friday, 10 October, at 10 a.m. to continue its consideration of crime prevention and international drug control.

     Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to begin consideration of items related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

    Before the Committee, is a report of the Secretary-General on Preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of funds of illicit origin and returning such assets to the countries of origin (document A/58/125).  Prepared by the Centre for International Crime Prevention of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the report highlights progress made by the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a Convention against Corruption.  It also reflects the content of the global study submitted by the Ad Hoc Committee on the transfer of funds of illicit origin, especially funds derived from acts of corruption.

    Recommendations on the recovery of funds include the need for transparency and measures to combat money laundering, and cover issues such as potential funding resources, harmonization of practices, and international cooperation.  Recommendations on the return of funds include the need for clear and consistent rules for the allocation of recovered funds the appointment of an independent custodian to solve conflicting claims and asset sharing with cooperative States.  Also covered are issues related to prevention, which highlight the need for national capacity-building and the enhancement of the role of the United Nations.

    A letter dated 9 July 2003 from the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations (document A/58/131) transmits a joint statement by the heads of State of the members of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan).

    The Committee will also consider a report of the Secretary-General on the preparations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/58/87), which is expected to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 18 to 25 April 2005.  The report highlights the views of Member States, relevant specialized agencies and other entities of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the institutes of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme network on the agenda items and workshop topics for the Eleventh Congress.  It further discusses organizational arrangements for the Congress and provides a summary of the proceedings and action taken by the Commission at its twelfth session on the preparations for the Congress.

    There is also a report on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular, its technical cooperation capacity (A/58/222).  The report provides a brief overview of the main developments of the programme during the past year, and progress in the negotiation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and in promoting the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  The report also reviews the expansion of the technical cooperation activities of the programme, especially through the global programmes for countering terrorism, organized crime, and trafficking in human beings.

    The report concludes that the number of technical assistance activities undertaken by the programme has grown rapidly.  There has been a particularly noteworthy increase in the areas of criminal justice reform, reconstruction and crime prevention.  In addition, the General Assembly is encouraged to appeal for renewed efforts to bolster the programme’s capacity of the programme to continue to provide leadership in the priority areas of fighting organized crime, corruption, trafficking in human beings and terrorism, as well as in promoting criminal justice reform.  The General Assembly may also wish to reinforce efforts to ratify and implement expeditiously the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols, as well as the future United Nations Convention against Corruption.

    The Committee will also consider a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/58/223).  The report highlights the Institute’s activities during the past year, the approved strategy and action plan for the period 2002-2007, and fund-raising efforts for sustaining the Institute.  To strengthen the Institute’s capacity to fulfil its mandate, the report proposes a strengthening of cooperation of the United Nations Office with the Institute, calling on potential donors and international funding agencies to make financial contributions to the Institute, and urging Member States to meet their financial obligations to the Institute so as to attract additional funding from other sources.

    Also before the Committee, (not yet available), is a report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on the programme and final recommendations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

    A report of the Secretary-General on promoting the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto (document A/58/165) states that during the coming year, the Centre for International Crime Prevention intends to continue and intensify its activities to promote ratification and implementation of the Convention and its protocols, and Member States have consistently offered their strong support.  Further efforts will depend, not only on the political will of States to bring their laws and regulatory regimes in line with the provisions of the instruments, but on States’ continuing support for technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

    A letter dated 3 October 2003 from the Permanent Representative of Mexico addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/58/412) requests that the agenda item entitled “Crime prevention and criminal justice” also be considered by the plenary Assembly in order to ensure that the draft “United Nations Convention against Corruption” can be adopted in a timely manner and transmitted for signing at a high-level political conference from 9 to 11 December.

    On international drug control, the Committee has before it a report of the Secretary-General on the Quinquennial evaluation of the implementation of the outcome of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly devoted to countering the world drug problem (A/58/253).  The report states that on the basis of the present evaluation and drawing on the long established experience of the United Nations in dealing with the illicit drug problem, a number of trends can be observed.  Firstly, drug control policy works.  Policy is most effective if it balances intervention to reduce demand with those to reduce supply.

    Secondly, demand reduction works.  There is already a substantial body of evidence to prove that prevention, treatment and rehabilitation are effective, and, above all, their opportunity cost is much lower than enforcement and interdiction.  However, it needs time and sustained commitment.

    Thirdly, alternative development works.  There is strong evidence that illicit drug crops can be eliminated if programmes tackle the basic problems effectively -- essentially the poverty of small farmers.

    Fourthly, international cooperation works.  However, the continued success of international drug control can only be ensured if all countries operate within the common framework of international law.  The three drug-control conventions provide such a framework, complemented by the action plans and other measures adopted at the special session.

    The Committee will also consider a report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the progress achieved in meeting the goals set out in the Political Declaration adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session (document A/58/124).  The report contains a Joint Ministerial Statement that includes an assessment of the implementation by Member States of the action plans emanating from the General Assembly’s twentieth special session and recommendations for the period 2003-2007.

    The statement calls upon States that have not already done so to become parties to international drug control conventions and stresses that the global drug problem must be addressed in multilateral, regional, bilateral and national settings with the involvement of all Member States.  The report finds that while, Member States have made progress in setting up or enhancing initiatives to treat drug abuse and to reduce illicit drug demand, drug abuse remains at an unacceptably high level.

    Also relevant to the international drug control issue is a letter already noted above from the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, dated 9 July 2003 (document A/58/131).

    ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that in recent years, new forms of criminal behaviour have emerged, while traditional ones have changed in depth and scope.  Modern technology enabled criminals to launder money, commit large-scale fraud, attack computer systems or disseminate paedophile material.  Those were global concerns.

    Yet, as usual, some societies were worse off than others, he said.  The UNODC had recently developed a composite index of organized crime, combining data on over 10 factors, including perceptions of organized crime and high-level corruption by business leaders, the extent of the grey economy, the degree of arms and tobacco smuggling, levels of human trafficking, car theft, money laundering and so on.  The current data had shown that sub-Saharan Africa appeared to be the region most affected by organized crime, followed by Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.  Research suggested the existence of a clear link between the failure of some countries to achieve sustainable development and the growth of organized crime.

    Concerning drugs, he said that a sizeable reduction of opium and coca cultivation had taken place in Asia and the Andean countries, to the point that illicit cultivation was occurring mainly in two countries –- Colombia and Afghanistan.  There had been a significant reduction in cocaine and heroin abuse in some major markets in North America and Western Europe; however, new markets had emerged in Eastern Europe, Russia and China.  Some worrisome news had also come from the rich countries.  Drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamine type stimulants might well become the world’s most serious drug problem because of the growth in abuse and the large profit margins they offered.

    Policies had been adjusted in the face of these challenges, he said.  The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime had entered into force in September 2003.  A few days ago, the arsenal of international instruments had also been strengthened with the successful conclusion of the negotiations on the Convention against Corruption.  New operational priorities had been defined for the UNODC with special emphasis on the need to pursue an integrated approach to drugs, crime and terrorism issues; to place them in the context of sustainable development; and to balance prevention and law enforcement.  Efforts had been put in place to deliver better quality programmes and improve value for money.  The relevance of UNODC in future years would be measured by its capacity to meet the demands of Member States.  Given the modest size of available resources, the achievement of more substantive results would also be contingent on UNODC’s capacity to build strategic partnerships with others.

    The power of partnerships had also played a significant role in the action to give effect to the “Paris Pact” to tackle all aspects of the drug- and crime-related problems along trafficking routes from Central Asia to Europe.  The relationship with the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee kept growing, he said.  The UNODC was sharing information with that Committee and helping to meet the technical assistance needs identified by it.

    He stressed that the Millennium Declaration made achieving sustainable development a goal of the United Nations.  This goal required that the resources of the world were fairly and efficiently shared so as to promote human dignity everywhere in the world.  Facing the real world -- with major terrorist attacks, violence and crime, abuse and addiction -- required vision, political determination and resources.

    Interactive Dialogue

    In a subsequent question-and-answer session, a representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, asked about the composite index and its results.  Results seemed to indicate that all situations were very different.  In this connection, how could approaches to different geopolitical and socio-economic situations be tailored constructively?  He also asked what could be done to improve cooperation with the European Union.

    A representative of Austria asked about cooperation with different partners and wondered if there was a method of reaching out to civil society.

    There were encouraging trends presented by Mr. Costa, said a representative of Pakistan.  He asked if there was more information on positive developments in the Golden Triangle area.  Cooperation between the UNODC and the private sector sounded promising; however, how far could this cooperation stretch?

    A representative of Mali raised the question of organized crime in Africa and asked what the underlying reasons were for this situation.  Concerning the cultivation of cannabis and poppy, he asked how the UNODC could help find alternatives to such cultivation.

    What was being done to help the situation in Africa? the representative of Sudan asked.  She also asked what the status of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime was.

    Responding to questions, Mr. COSTA said sub-Saharan Africa needed to be dealt with in a different manner than the situation in Eastern Europe.  This was also important on a logistic level.  Regarding cooperation, in this case with the European Union, he said it was progressing, but there was a lack of support for some programmes.

    Concerning new forms of partnerships, he said the emphasis of the Office was not to grow or expand, but to produce better results.  The issue was to deliver what countries needed and to be a better catalyst in that context.  The Office had been established with the bulk of the budget coming from about 20 donor countries.  He wanted to supplement this pool of resources with contributions from some of the medium-income countries -- countries that were being assisted.  Beyond this, a third pool of resources could come from the private sector.  A fourth pool was the civil society and volunteers.  There was much more to do in this respect.

    There had been encouraging trends in the Golden Triangle, he said.  If things continued in this direction, there might not be opium cultivation in the area in the near future.  On demand reduction, he said that more work was needed.  As long as there was a demand, production would take place.  Heroin and cocaine consumption was on the decline, but synthetic drugs were on the way up.

    Concerning resources to fight crime and drugs in Africa, he said his heart cried for Africa.  It was clear that donors had other priorities.  The continent was also being attacked by cocaine, heroin and opium traffickers taking advantage of its geographical location.  In the next few weeks, the Office would assess the opium harvest in Afghanistan.  The risk and reward balance in Afghanistan was wrong and warped.  The income coming from cultivation -- about $2.5 billion on an annual basis -- provided rewards without risks since law enforcement was weak.  The risk needed to be increased, and farmers needed to be assisted to find alternatives development projects.

    On the status of the Convention, he said that a majority of ratifying countries were from least developing countries.  Only three European countries, and one North American country had ratified, he said.  He appealed to Member States to ensure that the Convention was ratified.

    Statements

    PATRICIA OLAMENDI OLAVARRIETA, (Mexico) said her country was greatly encouraged to see that most countries believed in the system of shared responsibility regarding the fight against drugs.  Challenging the Third Committee to break away from its customary approach of regarding delegations as either donors or recipients, she said all were donors, as well as recipients.  The Committee had to address that issue because the prevailing belief was that “there are those who are good, the donors, and those who were not so good, the recipients”.  Mexico would do both, as it had much to contribute.  The focus on shared responsibility should allow the Committee to reorient its work.

    Mexico, like most other countries had a comprehensive approach to dealing with its drug problems, she said.  It was fighting crime and drug trafficking but was also concerned with treating and rehabilitating drug addicts.  Much still needed to be done to combat organized crime, which today was even stronger and had very vast networks.  The convention against transnational crime, if ratified, would be a great help in establishing schemes for combating organized crime.

    Organized crime and drug trafficking had grown because of the corruption that prevailed in many countries, she said.  The impunity provided by many countries to drug traffickers had brought corruption to many governments.  Mexico was particularly concerned about widespread addiction to many different drugs, especially amphetamines, and it was critical to control the manufacturing of the drug in order to combat addiction.

    She called on Member States to support the Ministerial Declaration, which should renew the commitment to make true progress in fighting organized crime, especially drug trafficking.  The time had come to redouble efforts.  International cooperation was critical to effectively combating drug trafficking, production and distribution.

    MARCO BALAREZO (Peru), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group of countries, said the Group was concerned that, although some progress had been achieved, there were alarming signs regarding the rapid increase of the illegal production and use of certain kinds of drugs in some regions.  The problem of drugs was still a world challenge that put into danger public health, security and well-being of all humanity, particularly children and youth.  It also undermined all efforts to reduce poverty and caused violence and crime.  Vast resources of the illicit drug economy also nourished and strengthened criminal organizations, including terrorist groups.  This trade also affected the availability of weapons, ammunition and explosives, many of which were recycled from armed conflicts.

    The Rio Group supported the UNODC in providing technical cooperation for alternative development, and called on the Office to continue its strategy to support transit countries through new programmes.  The Group reiterated its commitment to continue promoting the strengthening of cooperation among countries that were inside and outside the region, as well as with regional organizations and mechanisms, in a non-discriminatory manner.  The Group also called for donor countries, international organizations and multilateral financial institutions to promote new and additional resources to assist developing countries combating the world drug problem in all its manifestation.

    BRUNELLA BORZI CORNACCHIA (Italy), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union fully acknowledged the pivotal role of the United Nations for the development of effective strategies to fight crime.  The European Union strongly supported the activities of the UNODC, particularly in the development of global legal instruments and in providing technical cooperation to developing countries.  She encouraged every effort to accelerate the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which had entered into force on 29 September.  The next crucial step in global efforts to combat transnational crime would be the establishment of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

    The European Union welcomed the strengthening of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UNODC, she said.  The Branch could build on years of expertise in the field of combating organized crime when offering advisory service on counter-terrorism, as it had already done successfully in more than 30 countries this year.

    Turning to drug control, she said the fight against drug abuse, production and trafficking required a common approach to be addressed in multilateral, bilateral, national and regional settings.  The European Union’s main concern was the increasing use of drugs among young people.  The problem had to be tackled through school-based prevention programmes and the involvement of families and communities.  It was also deeply concerned about the links between illicit drug trafficking and terrorism and other national and transnational criminal activities such as organized crime, human trafficking, money laundering, corruption and the financing of terrorism.

    The UNODC must continue to play a primary role in global coordination of anti-narcotics activities, she said.  The European Union recommended that a sufficient share of the regular budget of the United Nations be allocated to the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to enable it to fulfil its mandate.

    FREDERICO DUQUE (Brazil) said his Government would soon deposit its instruments of ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  It was also following with great interest the negotiations for a United Nations Convention against Corruption, as corruption was a serious obstacle to social development.  Brazil had greatly benefited from the programmes put forward by the United Nations to combat transnational organized crime, especially regarding the traffic of human beings, an issue being tackled by a special programme in Brazil with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Brazil was firmly committed to combating illicit drug use and trafficking and supported a multilateral approach to those problems, he said.  The comprehensive approach of Brazil’s National Anti-Drug Policy focused on reducing drug use and rehabilitating drug abusers, along with repressing criminal activities associated with illicit drug supply.

    It was also essential to establish international cooperation in the fight against corruption in border controls, a problem common to producer, transit, and consumer countries.

    JORGE CUMBERBATCH MIGUEN (Cuba) said the illicit drug market had reached the figure of $400 billion, and consumption was affecting 200 million -- representing 4.7 per cent of the 15-year-old world population.  It was estimated that in 2002, the production of heroin alone might have reached 450 metric tons.  International cooperation must play an important role to fight these trends.  However, it was unacceptable that some States acted as international judges and “certified” the rest of the nations, hindering the cooperation process in the struggle against drug trafficking, as well as the most elemental norms of coexistence among States.

    Cuba had demonstrated its will to avoid the use of its national territory in illicit drug trafficking and had implemented strong measures against those participating in that kind of illegal activity, he said.  Those criminals aimed at using the national route towards the huge drug consumption centre in the United States.  Cuba had repeatedly expressed its willingness to collaborate with United States authorities to fight drug trafficking by proposing three alternatives -- moderate cooperation, greater effectiveness or comprehensive cooperation.  Unfortunately, the United States authorities had rejected such proposals despite the fact that it would turn out to be a direct benefit to the American society.  The fight against drug consumption, trafficking and production would fail if multilateral mechanisms were not reinforced and international cooperation was not based on governmental political willingness, reciprocity and seriousness when addressing this scourge.

    XIE BOHUA (China) called on all parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which recently came into force, to abide by the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit.  Regional and global cooperation mechanisms to combat transnational crime should be established.  Furthermore, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, States should increase their financial assistance to developing countries to help them build their capacity to combat transnational organized crime.  The Chinese Government was firmly determined to crack down on transnational crimes.

    China actively took part in drafting the United Nations Convention against Corruption and hoped the convention would be adopted at this General Assembly session, he said.  The Chinese Government had been fighting against corruption and sought to “treat the symptom, as well as the disease”.  While meting out severe punishment for the crime of corruption, it had also resorted to institutional measures.  China was building a fair, transparent and efficient Government.  It would conduct anti-corruption exchanges and cooperate more actively with other nations and international organizations.

    Turning to counter-terrorism efforts, he said China had joined 10 international conventions on terrorism and supported strengthening international cooperation to combat terrorism under the aegis of the United Nations and the Security Council in accordance with international law.

    MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the need to continue to provide financial and technical support for the fight against illicit drugs at the international, regional and national levels and to provide countries with new and additional support remained imperative.  The SADC welcomed the entry into force of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime -- the first legally binding instrument to fight organized crime.  The Convention provided the international community with the means to respond to the progressing globalization of organized crime and established a series of crime-control measures and crime-prevention strategies.

    The SADC welcomed the consensus reached in finalizing the text of the draft Convention against Corruption by the Ad Hoc Committee, and it was hoped that the Mexico conference would adopt the Convention.  Corruption was a complex social, political, and economic phenomenon, he said.  Throughout the world, there was a growing tide of awareness recognizing that combating corruption was integral to enhancing the efforts of governments in their quest for achieving effectiveness, fairness and efficiency.

    Within the SADC, the abuse and trafficking of drugs remained a matter of grave concern, he continued.  It jeopardized the development of human capital and compromised economic development owing to its destabilizing effects on the State, the economy and civil society.  The abuse and trafficking of drugs was growing both in terms of countries affected and the range of drugs abused.  An increase had been reported in both trafficking and abuse of mandrax (methaqualone), cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and the synthetic stimulant, methcathinone.  In addition, the emergence of intravenous drug abuse also contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    The SADC countries were developing countries, he said.  They were confronted with many developmental concerns, including, most prominently, the lack of financial resources to effectively implement programmes to fight crime and drugs.  The SADC countries needed international cooperation through the provision of technical assistance and funding in order to guarantee the success required in fighting drug trafficking and abuse, as well as improving crime prevention and criminal justice.

    SICHAN SIV (United States) said support for law enforcement institutions must be mainstreamed into overall efforts to achieve sustainable development.  In many cases, as in Afghanistan and elsewhere, these institutions needed to be created from scratch.  The United States was optimistic that there was growing international appreciation for the link between development and law enforcement.  Corruption and lack of law enforcement hindered socio-economic development.

    Another dangerous trend was the increased involvement of organized crime with trafficking in persons, he said.  Like other forms of transnational organized crime, trafficking in persons had critical implications for regional and national stability.  The damage inflicted by trafficking extended beyond the victims and their families, and was taking a frightening turn.  Terrorists were increasingly relying on the resources of organized crime.

    These issues had not always been considered among foreign policy priorities of many governments, he said.  Fortunately, the past several years had seen successful international counter-narcotics and anti-crime efforts, narrowing the field of action for illicit syndicates.  Two landmark achievements had been seen recently.  On 1 October 2003, after two years of negotiation involving some 130 countries, Member States had successfully concluded the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  On 29 September 2003, the Transnational Organized Crime Convention had entered into force and was ratified by over 50 countries.  The application of these new legal instruments would provide governments with additional tools to cooperate against these transnational threats.

    MAI TAHA MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) said her country placed great importance on combating corrupt practices.  It was in the process of establishing measures to combat corruption, money laundering and drug trafficking.  Egypt had initiated efforts towards decreasing drug use among youth and encouraged young people to take part in anti-drug campaigns.  These youth programmes should include services to combat AIDS and increase AIDS awareness among youth.

    Along with efforts to fight drugs on national, regional and local levels, it was crucial to look at the root causes of drug use, including poverty and unemployment, she said.  Egypt called for more international cooperation to eliminate the drug problem, with continued international support for developing countries.

    OKSANA BOIKO (Ukraine) said that under the current process of globalization, it was more important then ever to bring all international partners together in the fight against crime.  In this regard, Ukraine welcomed the consensus reached by the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on the draft convention against corruption.  That document was a true global response to the global challenge.  Combating corruption was one of the priorities for Ukraine, and the Government had made substantial efforts to improve its national capacity to fight crime and corruption.  During the last 10 years, terrorism had also become an inevitable part of organized transnational crime.  Ukraine had developed and put into practice the measures recommended by the Security Council to prevent its territory being used by international terrorist organizations.

    The problem of human trafficking was another challenge to human security, she said.  For the last decade, thousands of young Ukrainian women had been trafficked to different parts of the world.  To be effective in attacking the trafficking problem, it was necessary to use a comprehensive and integrated approach taking into account socio-economic, cultural and legal aspects of the problem.  Strategies must strike a balance between law enforcement operations against traffickers and positive action aiming to help target groups and assist victims.

    U KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said Myanmar was encouraged by a recent report of the Secretary-General that showed coca and opium poppy cultivation was declining, but it was necessary to continue to remain vigilant.  International cooperation was indispensable in preventing illicit crop cultivation from emerging or being relocated to other areas.

    Myanmar had effectively engaged in combating illicit opium poppy cultivation and trafficking, he said.  It had also been waging a campaign against the new threat posed by amphetamines, and the authorities had seized sizeable quantities of precursor chemicals illicitly brought into remote border areas.  International cooperation was crucial in those efforts.  Need sustained efforts at national, regional, and international levels.

    Myanmar joined the call of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for allocating a sufficient share of the United Nations’ regular budget to the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to enable the programme to fulfil its mandate, he said.

    YUKO ITO (Japan) said Japan supported the recent activities of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UNODC, which provided technical and legal assistance to Member States for ratification and implementation of international conventions on terrorism.  Japan also hailed the recent entry into force of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on 29 September.  That demonstrated the strong desire of the international community to fight transnational organized crime.  Last December, Japan had signed the three protocols related to the Convention on trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms.

    Concerning international drug control, she said the ministerial midterm review of the outcome of the 1998 special session had provided a good opportunity to assess the successes and difficulties the world had had with the drug problem in the last five years.  As pointed out in the ministerial statement, amphetamine-type stimulants were now becoming a threat all over the world.  The ease of production and trafficking made their spread rapid, especially among young people.  Japan believed that in the years to come, such stimulants would be the single most serious drug problem in the world.  She was deeply concerned by their growing illicit production and trafficking in North-East Asia.  She concluded by stressing that strengthening border controls and regional international cooperation was essential.

    ALEG IVANOU (Belarus), also speaking on behalf of Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, called on Member States to step up efforts to combat transnational organized crime, terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking.  He welcomed the coming into force of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which provided the international community with an appropriate legislative mechanism to combat transnational crime.  He hoped the convention on corruption would be presented for adoption by this General Assembly session.

    Calling for further cooperation of States on a regional level, he noted that over the past years there had been much progress in the fight against crime along the border areas of countries comprising the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  To buttress cooperation in combating terrorism, a database had been created for the shared use of all CIS member states.  Such joint efforts and cooperation had achieved great results and had been of mutual benefit to the States concerned.  Expansion and further cooperation among CIS members, together with the United Nations and international organizations, was crucial in continuing the fight against transnational crime.

    SAMI ZEIDAN (Lebanon) said preventing crime meant tackling its root causes.  This meant that governments needed to identify risk groups and risk sectors.  In Lebanon, the Government had initiated several actions to fight corruption.  He welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on the strengthening of crime prevention, particularly the section on the need for technical assistance programmes.

    Corruption was wreaking havoc in many societies, he said.  It almost seemed as if there was more corruption in this day and age that ever before.  The struggle against corruption would only be taken seriously if policies included both perpetrators and victims of corruption.