Press Releases

    GA/SHC/3633
    15 October 2001

    IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, LEGAL
    CONVENTIONS STRESSED AS THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES
    DISCUSSION OF DRUGS, CRIME


    NEW YORK, 12 October (UN Headquarters) -- Now that sufficient international and regional mechanisms were in place to combat crimes that affected multiple States, it was up to countries to ensure those agreements were effective by working jointly at information sharing, and working individually to implement necessary policies in their domestic laws, several speakers told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Culture) this afternoon.

    As the Committee moved further into its debate on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, various delegations said comprehensive conventions, particularly the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its related Protocols, were of paramount importance in battling multinational criminals, especially drug traffickers. But such treaties were toothless, some said, without the necessary national legal instruments in place.

    The representative of China said that whether the Convention could play the role expected of it in combating transnational organized crime depended on whether its provisions were comprehensively implemented. As globalization spread, the battle against widespread corruption had become a common task facing all countries. Exchanging experience in combating corruption, sharing best practices and discussing and carrying out international cooperation against corruption would benefit the entire world.

    China was joined by other speakers in suggesting that developing countries needed the international community to extend to them technical and financing assistance. The representative of Bolivia, speaking on behalf of the Andean Community, credited developed countries with helping establish the Andean Tariff Preference Law, which had contributed to the social and economic development of the countries in the region, including improving the atmosphere to generate jobs and providing legal alternatives to activities linked with drug production and trafficking.

    Two other countries in the region battling drug production and trafficking, Colombia and Peru, also stressed the crucial nature of international cooperation. The representative of Colombia said that at the Summit of the Americas last summer in Quebec, his President stressed to other regional leaders that the dangers posed by the drug lords were not just a threat to Colombia, but to every country. The international community, he emphasized, had to take advantage of the benefits of globalization -- namely the ability to share and access information quickly -- in the battle against illicit drugs.

    The delegate of Peru, while agreeing that broad coordination was essential, focused on his Government's own policies to overcome its struggle with drugs. Those polices, he said, were based on three principles -- gradual reduction of the illegal production of coca leaves; reduction of drug trafficking and usage through prevention and treatment; and traditional alternative development schemes and environmental conservation programmes.

    In Peru, he continued, the extensive lands devoted to illegal crops had caused social and economic emergencies. The peasants living in those coca-growing regions often came under pressure from criminal organizations. The Government therefore considered alternative development strategies to reduce the production of illegal substances, and by extension, international criminal activity.

    Representatives of El Salvador (on behalf of the Central American Group), Australia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation also spoke.

    The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 15 October to continue its discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon continued with its deliberations on items relating to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control. For details, see Press Release GA/SHC/3632 of 12 October.

    CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCIA GONZALEZ (El Salvador, on behalf of the Central American Group) said the Governments of Central American countries and the Dominican Republic reaffirmed their political will to battle the scourge of drugs in the hemisphere and across the world. It was necessary to work on various fronts in order to meet many international requirements. The region worked together to establish prevention programmes and targeted high-risk groups. Indicators of drug abuse were studied, which helped assess the cause of drug use, and thus, helped lead to solutions to prevention. Subregionally, the countries made effort to prepare, adopt, and implement a Central American Action Plan to eradicate the production, trafficking and consuming of illegal drugs.

    The international community was going through an unprecedented historical time when there was general consensus on the need to combat terrorism, without any ideological or cultural distinction. The groups that profited from trafficking of drugs, arms, and other illicit products were a scourge. The international community needed to combat those groups with the same energy they directed at terrorist groups. Some of the most effective tools were found in international cooperation -- sharing best practices, and coordinating approaches to stop the flow of drugs between countries.

    DAVID STUART (Australia) said the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice recoginized the cooperation among States in combating global criminal activity, especially people-smuggling and trafficking in persons. Indeed, people-smuggling was a growing phenomenon in the spectrum of transnational criminal activity. In some regions, such trafficking rivaled narcotics in profitability, generating yearly revenue of over $10 billion. Human trafficking was a lucrative but relatively low risk pursuit, posing more problems for governments and their innocent citizens than the criminal actors. Evidence suggested that the trafficking of humans was usually organized by criminal networks also involved in the trafficking of narcotics and other contraband.

    Australia was strongly committed to doing everything possible to fight human trafficking, he said. The country’s policies and laws sought to deter such activities and disrupt criminal networks. Still, the breadth of the problem could not be handled by one country on its own. It must be addressed in a coordinated manner through bilateral, regional and global measures. If broad cooperative efforts were not undertaken immediately, people smuggling networks would continue to undermine the international protection system.

    The international community should particularly ensure that refugee protection mechanisms were not abused, he said. Australia had initiated internal processes for ratifying of the Conventional Against Transnational Organized Crime. He urged a renewed international focus on the issue of human trafficking by the United Nations.

    MEI YUNCAI (China) said in recent years, the United Nations had stepped up its activities in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, and had adopted countermeasures to prevent the spread of criminal activities. After three years of concerted efforts by the international community, the drafts of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants and the Protocol against the Illicit Trafficking in Firearms had been completed and opened for signature. This was a new milestone in international cooperation against transnational organized crime.

    Whether the Convention could play the role expected of it in combating transnational organized crime depended on whether its provisions were really implemented, he said. States should engage in effective cooperation and assistance, and exchange and share experiences and information. Due to the many practical difficulties facing developing countries, the international community should extend technical and financial assistance to them in implementing the Convention and in carrying out international cooperation to combat transnational organized crime. All this was of great significance in enabling the Convention to play its role.

    Just like transnational organized crime, corruption was also very harmful, he continued. As globalization was developing, the battle against corruption and the prevention of its spreading had become a common task facing all the countries in the world. Exchanging experiences in combating corruption and learning from successful stories, discussing it and carrying out international cooperation against corruption would benefit the entire world.

    Transnational organized crime groups engaged in criminal activities like drug trafficking, money laundering, smuggling and trafficking in persons and smuggling firearms, he said. Those criminal groups were even directly engaged in terrorist activities or were closely connected to such activities. They sought only profit, using any means at their disposal. They represented the most harmful form of criminality facing mankind in the twenty-first century. On this, the international community had reached consensus and, through concerted efforts, had completed the drafting of the Convention and its Protocols, thus demonstrating the common determination of the international community on the issue of combating transnational organized crime.

    SEO BIHN (Republic of Korea) said one of the greatest strides made in international crime prevention had been the elaboration of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols. Those instruments were major tools that could be used in the global fight to eradicate corruption, trafficking in persons and transnational organized crime. Her Government planned shortly to ratify those instruments.

    She said that the manufacture and transfer of drugs was another serious challenge that required immediate attention. Korea believed that the Convention against Organized Crime could further contribute to judicial cooperation as well as the criminalization of money laundering associated with the illegal drug trade. Considering that drug manufacturers and traffickers exploited international trade networks as well as international financial institutions, firmer resolve was required to strengthen international cooperation on crime prevention. Her Government was convinced that only an international response could meet the challenges posed by the elements of "uncivil society" that worked to promote oppression and injustice.

    VIVIANA LIMPIAS (Bolivia, on behalf of the Andean Community) said the renewal and expansion of the Andean Tariff Preference Law, that would expire on 4 December, as well as the incorporation of Venezuela into it, was essential. The implementation of that preferential regime had contributed in a meaningful manner to the social and economic development of the Andean countries, improving the conditions to generate jobs and the legal alternatives to the activities linked with drug production and trafficking.

    Therefore, she said, the Andean countries enormously appreciated this valuable tool for cooperation in the struggle against that scourge that affected the social, economic and political stability of the Andean subregion. Its renewal and expansion was an objective that had a high priority since it contributed towards overcoming problems arising from the high poverty rates of the region’s people. That model, as well as others like it, was extremely valuable. The commitment of the developed countries in helping with such programmes was essential.

    That type of mechanism, she said, constituted one of the most meaningful contributions of the international community, mainly from the industrialized countries, towards the development of the Andean subregion. That could become a basic political component of the strategic alliance in the struggle against drugs under the principle of shared responsibility, which would help contribute in a decisive manner to balanced security and development in the hemisphere.

    ALFREDO CHUQUIHUARA (Peru) said issues related to international drug control were of great importance to his delegation since the widespread illegal production, consumption and trafficking of drugs continued to plague that region. The breadth of the drug problem required that all countries and regions maintain an integrated approach. Peru actively promoted greater international cooperation through the application of bilateral mechanisms that would strengthen opportunities for joint actions against the scourge of illicit drugs.

    One of the basic priorities of the Government was to develop policies focused on Peru’s continuing struggle against drugs in all their aspects, he said. Those policies were based on three principles: gradual reduction of the illegal production of coca leaves; reduction of drug trafficking; reduction of use through prevention and treatment, and traditional alternative development schemes and environmental conservation programmes. Those goals had been accompanied by a three-pronged strategy based on interdiction, alternative development, and prevention and rehabilitation. Effective and well-planned interdictions could create conditions that were favourable for profitable alternative farm products.

    In Peru, the existence of extensive areas of land devoted to illegal crops had caused social and economic emergencies, he said. The peasants living in those coca-growing regions often came under pressure from criminal organizations. Peru therefore considered alternative development as a strategy to reduce productions of illegal substances while reducing international criminal activity. Such development was considered not only the substitution of crops but also the creation of new and profitable economic activities that were environmentally sustainable and which would allow populations involved in illegal production to break free of the nefarious international drug circuit.

    ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said today, more than ever before, Colombia reaffirmed its commitment to combat the world drug problem, and requested the continued support of the international community in stemming the problem in his country. Trafficking in drugs had become more sophisticated in the era of globalization. The means used by legitimate businesses were also used by traffickers in drugs and weapons, and the same system also allowed them to launder their profits. That destabilized democratic governments, causing violence and economic destruction. At the Summit of the Americas last summer, the President had said the danger was not only to countries to Colombia, but every country. The international community must take advantage of the benefits of globalization in the battle against illicit drugs. A global approach was possible. Colombia assigned the highest priority to the commitments of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly.

    The international community's challenge was not only dealing with the problem of supply and demand, he said. Each and every drug-related crime also had to be addressed. Today, the international community was more united than ever to crack down on the scourge of terrorism. The illegal trade in drugs and arms funded those activities, and that showed that the United Nations had a role to play. The struggle against laundering was a permanent subject on the agenda of the Narcotic and Drug Commission. This problem had to be approach in a more comprehensive way. The Government would do everything it could in this effort.

    VLADIMIR TARABRIN (Russian Federation) said that in recent years, the world had witnessed unprecedented growth in criminal activity. Such a dramatic increase had provided a breeding ground for the development of terrorism, as well as trafficking in drugs and persons. International efforts were urgently needed to reverse that trend. Therefore it was up to the United Nations to provide the international legal basis for the global community's fight against crime.

    Russia believed the fight against corruption also required great attention, he added. It was necessary to start consultations on an international convention on that issue as soon as possible. The fight against money laundering was another priority issue. Russia had been working actively with other States to counter the legalization of criminal proceeds. His delegation was also gravely concerned with the issue of illicit drug trafficking. Russia supported using the United Nations capacity as an international coordinator of worldwide activities in that regard.

    Over the last 10 years, Russia had been a victim of aggressive drug trafficking agents, he continued. Drugs of Afghan origin were still Russia’s largest threat. The flow of smuggled heroin on the Russia-Tajikistan border continued unabated. He praised the work of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme in monitoring the state of the overall drug trade in Central Asia. At the same time, with the current conflict situation, it was important to prevent the center of drug control in the region to flow out of Afghanistan and into other Central Asian countries.

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