20 May 2004
United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Concludes Its Thirteenth Session in Vienna
VIENNA, 20 May (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice concluded its thirteenth session today in Vienna. Over 600 delegates reviewed the activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) focusing on the rule of law and development, the sessions main theme, terrorism, the ratification of the Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) and on Corruption, standard norms in crime prevention and criminal justice and other forms of crime related matters.
Key resolutions adopted by the Commission call for action on:
Strengthening the rule of law and the reform of criminal justice institutions with emphasis on technical assistance, including in post-conflict reconstruction
The Rule of Law and Development was this years main thematic discussion. A high-level panel initiated the discussion, which emphasized that development was not sustainable without the rule of law but that the establishment of the rule of law in post-conflict societies was a long-term effort. Twenty-five speakers contributed to the debate. It was emphasized that all stakeholders, including government authorities, civil society, local communities and non-governmental organizations needed to be involved. A workshop on the rule of law and development was organized by the institutes of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Network on 13 May 2004. Transitional Codes for immediate use in post-conflict situations were presented as well as practical case studies. The resolution requested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to promote the rule of law, especially in countries emerging from conflict; paying particular attention to countries in Africa and to develop assessment tools for peace keeping and post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution further urged Member States to provide assistance to countries emerging from conflict and financial and development institutions to provide funding to projects in the justice sector. The Commission promoted an integrated approach to criminal reform with particular emphasis on protecting vulnerable groups. It also invited the institutes to contribute to a better understanding of the links between the rule of law and development, and to develop appropriate training materials.
The Commission approved a draft resolution on strengthening international co-operation and technical assistance in promoting the implementation of the universal conventions and protocols related to terrorism. The adoption of the resolution followed a full day of deliberations on 14 May. Senior-level participants recognized terrorism as one of the most serious threats to freedom, democracy and human rights, and as a main source of destabilization for countries and societies. The transnational nature of terrorism was highlighted leading to the need of active participation of all States, regional and international organizations in the fight against this scourge.
The draft resolution which would ultimately be considered by the General Assembly at its 59th session condemns the heinous acts of terrorism in many parts of the world, including the deliberate attacks against humanitarian personnel and United Nations and its associated personnel. It commends the UNODCs Terrorism Prevention Branch for the technical assistance provided to countries with regard to becoming parties and implementing the universal anti-terrorism conventions and protocols and requests an intensification of these efforts, including training of judicial and prosecutorial personnel in the proper implementation of the instruments. It further calls upon Member States to strengthen, to the greatest extent possible, international co-operation to combat terrorism.
The Commission welcomed the signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Mérida (Mexico) last December. Member States were encouraged to ratify it (108 countries have signed and two already ratified the Convention) and to give UNODC the necessary resources to promote its entry into force and provide technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to allow them to ratify and implement the Convention.
United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice
Standards and norms are an evolving body of non-binding instruments or soft law, such as Rules and Guidelines adopted by the General Assembly or ECOSOC. They cover a variety of issues relating to crime prevention and criminal justice, ranging from the treatment of prisoners, to juvenile justice, protection of victims and witnesses, good governance and the independence of the judiciary and the issue of capital punishment. New areas for elaborating standards and norms that were discussed during the meeting were: justice for child victims and witnesses of crime and access to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS for prison populations. The Commission was presented with a set of four questionnaires relating to persons in custody, alternatives to imprisonment, juvenile justice and restorative justice that would be used to assess the use and application of standards and norms in Member States and to evaluate needs for technical assistance in the area of criminal justice reform. The Commission also discussed a number of good practices in crime prevention and the issue of the prevention of crimes that infringe on the cultural heritage of people in the form of moveable property.
Combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in prisons was also covered by a resolution and the subject was discussed at a round table held on the sidelines of the Commission.
Other resolutions aiming at reducing urban crime, illicit trafficking in human organs, kidnapping, money laundering and at protecting child victims and witnesses of crime were adopted during this session.
Finally, the Commission acknowledged the preparatory work undertaken for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Prevention and Criminal Justice that will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 18 to 25 April 2005.
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