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Third Committee – Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Issues | UN Press

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Note: A complete summary of today’s Third Committee meetings will be available on Tuesday, 4 October.

Briefing

DELPHINE SCHANTZ, of the (UNODC), expressed her agency’s support for Member States in their fight against drugs, corruption, terrorism and organized crime, including crimes that affect the environment, and cybercrime.  Championing inter-agency and cross-sectorial collaboration, she pointed to the statistical framework to measure gender-related killings of women and girls, produced in collaboration with United Nations Women, and the statistical framework to measure illicit financial flows, produced in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  Turning to human trafficking, she underscored the need to fight against migrant smuggling and protect the lives and human rights of all migrants.  The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened economic and social inequalities, which are among the root causes of trafficking, and increased the misuse of information and communications technology (ICT) for human trafficking, including for the identification, recruitment, and exploitation of victims.  A major milestone was the third appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat , which resulted in a strong and comprehensive Political Declaration.  Among important developments discussed in the Declaration were the principle of non-punishment of trafficking victims and the misuse of ICT for trafficking, she said.

The consequences of the pandemic have had an impact on manifestations of terrorism, particularly the increased reliance on technology, she noted, calling for legal and accountable responses complying with obligations under international law, including the 19 international legal instruments against terrorism and relevant resolutions.  To this end, the Office launched a revamped Global Programme, which aids in developing people-centred responses to terrorism.  The Programme has continued to support the intergovernmental process to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICT for criminal purposes.

Interactive Dialogue

The observer for the European Union said socioeconomic vulnerabilities continued to be exploited by transnational crime networks, stressing that Member States must redouble their efforts to strengthen criminal justice institutions and promote the rule of law.  Noting that a United Nations convention for the global fight against Cybercrime must respect fundamental rights, she said it must not be used by States to restrict access to the Internet or violate their rights.  She asked how youth justice reform is integrated into the UNODC’s work.  Condemning the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression in Ukraine, she asked how the war affected organized crime and for an elaboration e on the Agency’s work in the region.

The representative of Belarus asked Ms. Shantz to detail how the UNODC worked with the mandated special procedures and if there were key events around human trafficking in the coming months.

The representative of Mexico also asked what the UNODC was doing to build institutional links with other United Nations bodies, as well as its efforts to stem crime.  She added that the economic crisis following the pandemic had been exacerbated by global events, and that adapting to this context must be a priority.

Ms. SHANTZ, responding to the observer of the European Union, said that UNODC held a debate last June focused on youth mainstreaming, criminal justice and crime prevention.  She added that several initiatives were developed encouraging youth to be “agents of change”, citing the Global Resource for Anti-Corruption Education and Youth Empowerment initiative and youth forums meant to provide youth with an opportunity to define their priorities and how they can contribute to Government policies.

Turning to Ukraine, she said that the UNODC had worked with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, adding twelve inspectors to check and control all shipping containers.  Further, a UNODC office would deploy in Istanbul to continue this work.  Addressing the work done in Ukraine, she said that research papers, cooperation with regional as well as the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons will outline new relevant policies.  Human trafficking in Ukraine was not new, she added, but the conflict could “strengthen the misuse of women and girls.”  Neighbouring countries were already reporting on the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking of victims coming from Ukraine.  Acknowledging a “worrying trend” of the use of the Internet for sexual exploitation purposes, she stressed the importance of her report on the misuse of ICT for human trafficking.

General Debate

THISVI EKMEKTZOGLOU-NEWSON, observer for the European Union, stressed the importance of safeguarding the balance between security and freedom in combatting emerging forms of transnational crime.  Organized crime posed a significant threat to citizens, businesses, state institutions and the economy, she asserted, noting that organized crime groups used their large illegal profits to infiltrate public institutions via corruption.  The modus operandi of organized crime and groups operating and offline called for a coordinated and targeted response, she added, detailing the strategy of the European Union to tackle organized crime. Stressing the importance of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, she said the European Union has a comprehensive toolbox to fight against corruption globally based on a holistic and human rights-based approach, including anti-corruption support to third countries.  She expressed support to those exposing corruption, including civil society, human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and whistle blowers.

Turning to trafficking of persons, she underscored the need for prevention as well as support for the victims.  At the global level, the European Union upholds the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.  Pointing to the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, she said the European Union would continue to fight migrant smugglers to dismantle their business model.  She condemned the instrumentalization of migrants and refugees for political purposes, advocating for a holistic approach to maritime security, encompassing terrorism as well as cyber, hybrid, chemical and other threats in the maritime domain.  Concluding, she detailed strategies to tackle the world drug problem and opposed use of the death penalty, including for drug-related crimes.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the threat of transnational crime required enhanced regional and international cooperation.  Last year’s ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime adopted the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on Combating Transnational Crime Post-COVID-19 Pandemic, which aimed to address new and evolving transnational crime trends.  Pointing to other ASEAN tools, he emphasized partnerships with other regional organizations, specifically the European Union.  Noting that over 1 billion methamphetamine tablets were seized in East and Southeast Asia in 2021, seven times higher than 10 years ago, he reaffirmed the region’s unity in the vision of a Drug- ASEAN.  On cybercrime, he highlighted ASEAN’s participation in the Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes.

DMITRII I. BULGARU (Russian Federation) stressed the importance of international agreement on approaches to eradicating obstacles to extradition and the return of illegally exported goods to their countries.  He also underlined the need to implement provisions of the Convention of the General Assembly special session against corruption.  Condemning legalization of drugs for non-medical or recreational purposes, he said cooperation on drug policy must remain non-political.  He expressed concern over the “sharp deterioration” of the drug situation in Afghanistan, which he attributed to 20 years of North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) inaction and the blocking of the new Taliban Government’s financial assets.  Although the digital revolution provides opportunities for the development of ICT, legal frameworks have not kept pace, he noted, resulting in legal blind spots in cybercrime.  Adding that annual losses due to cybercrime were $1.5 trillion dollars in 2018, he said by 2025 that indicator could rise to $9 trillion.  Calling for international cooperation to address these problems through the establishment of appropriate legal instruments, he said the Russian Federation, along with 46 other sponsors, aimed to establish the first legally binding instrument to combat cybercrime.

NOAH OEHRI (Lichtenstein) warned that cybercrime poses a threat to the use of a free, peaceful, and secure cyberspace as well as  enjoyment of human rights, including the right to privacy and freedom of expression.  Measures to counter cybercrime had been adopted at the national and regional levels, he said, pointing to the important role of the United Nations in the fight against cybercrime at the international level, especially the Ad-Hoc Committee on Cybercrime.   However, investigative powers and the criminalization of cybercrime must not be used to dismantle human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy, he said, calling for a proper balance between security concerns and the respect for human rights.  Trends towards an increasingly militarized cyberspace, developments in artificial intelligence, pervasive data collection and manipulation constituted real security risks to States, he observed, stressing the need to analyse data thoroughly against the existing legal framework.  With the increasing digitization of warfare, understanding the extent to which existing international law applies to cyberattacks and cyber warfare is imperative.  In this context, he stressed that the Rome Statute applies to cyberwarfare, which creates individual criminal responsibility for anyone that carries out the crime of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide with cyber means.  Turning to the fight against human trafficking as well as modern slavery, he expressed support for the global public-private partnership:  Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking.

Mr. YAP (Singapore) said his country had established the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence to enhance capabilities and promote information-sharing on cyberthreats across the region.  On drug abuse, he pointed to the World Drug Report, which highlighted the environmental impacts of drug markets, including substantial deforestation from illicit coca cultivation and waste generated during the manufacture of synthetic drugs.  As an international hub, Singapore was a small and densely populated city-state near major drug production centres, he noted, stressing that vigilance must be observed.  “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the multifaceted problem of drugs, and each country must decide on its own drug policies based on its own context”, he said.  “The thrust of our approach is harm prevention, rather than harm reduction,” he added, pointing to his country’s holistic approach encompassing education, enforcement and rehabilitation.  Adding that the number of abusers arrested each year in Singapore had halved since the 1990s, he said the country has one of the lowest rates of drug abuse worldwide.

HU BIN (China) called for international respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit.  He underscored the importance of proactively using relevant multilateral and bilateral treaties to promote cooperation in extradition, judicial assistance and asset recovery.  Moreover, he underscored the need to support developing countries, including technical assistance, to help strengthen their capacity building.  China had been advancing the rule of law while resolutely tackling crime and drug problems, he said, noting that in recent years his Government had strengthened its legislative initiatives and cracked down on telecommunication fraud, cross-border gambling and human trafficking.  On the fight against drugs, he observed a drastic reduction in the number of drug-related crimes in his country.  Expressing strong support for the global operation network of anti-corruption law enforcement authorities, he stressed that countries should independently formulate and implement their drug-control policies and legal systems.

STAN ODUMA SMITH (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted the high levels of gun-related crimes in his bloc, largely due to the nexus between the illicit trade in drugs and small arms and light weapons.  Adding that the majority of violent crimes were committed with illegal firearms from outside the region, he called for intensified cooperation among national, regional and international law enforcement agencies.  From 2021 to 2023, CARICOM focused on preparatory work to strengthen access to microfinancing, creating alternatives to imprisonment for minor infractions, strengthening inter-sectoral partnerships and analysing gaps in non-custodial sentencing.  Calling for Member State flexibility in crafting drug policies according to national development plans, he underscored the need for the international community to formulate dynamic policy responses.

On information and communications technologies, he stressed the need for small developing States like those of CARICOM to transition into digital economies.  COVID-19 showed that a country’s economic resilience was often a reflection of how digitally advanced it was, he said, adding that bridging the digital divide, both within and between countries, must be a priority.  CARICOM Member States lack sufficient and the technical capacity to develop the infrastructure required to fully participate in the global digital economy, which limits the region’s ability to protect its citizens from the criminal use of ICT.  Stressing the importance of creating an internationally legally binding instrument on the issue, he said that the United Nations Convention under negotiation would contribute to strengthening cyber security.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), said that corruption robbed states of resources needed to improve the social and economic well-being of society at large.  Having experienced corruption, South Africa used the United Nations Convention against Corruption for measures that prevented corruption in law enforcement and asset recovery, he said, adding that the country had established a “fusion centre” to investigate fraud during the pandemic.  Detailing further efforts, he said the country was strengthening training and establishing full comprehension of the country’s Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act.  The Government, in partnership with UNODC, had developed a Generic Integrated Training Manual on the Act.  Noting that gender-based violence had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and may again during other crises, the Government had signed three bills on gender-based violence to ensure justice for survivors.  Further, South Africa had cooperated with the Southern African Development Community as well as UNODC to develop legislation that would serve as a blueprint for survivor-centered criminal justice reforms in the region.

AYA KAMAL IBRAHIM HASSAN (Egypt) said that fighting transnational organized crime was a priority, particularly cybercrimes and human trafficking.  Her country’s strategy to fight corruption had been enhanced, particularly the illegal flows of funds.  Pointing to national efforts in fighting organized crime, particularly human trafficking, she stressed the need to implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  To fight the illegal trafficking of migrants, a national committee was established under the auspices of the Foreign Affairs Ministry with the participation of other involved ministries.  Egypt had also been fighting financial corruption and dealing with terrorism and money laundering, including in cyberspace.  “Organized crime can only be defeated with effective participation of all national, regional and international organizations and Member States to put an end to such crime and weaken terrorist organizations”, she said.

REEM FAHAD O. ALOMAIR (Saudi Arabia) said her country would continue to take measures to prevent the trafficking of persons and human organs as well as identity fraud and theft.  Adding that fighting transnational crime required international cooperation, she said Saudi Arabia had launched The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities with the UNODC, which operated with 55 other states and 92 anti-corruption agencies worldwide.  Detailing her country’s strategy against drug crimes, she said it focused on raising , international cooperation and the rehabilitation of addicts.

ASHISH SHARMA (India), highlighting the well-established nexus between terrorism, transnational organized crime, drugs and trafficking, described terrorism, drug trafficking, transnational crime and the security implications of new technologies as global challenges that cannot be viewed in compartmentalized terms.  Calling for a coordinated global response to address these issues comprehensively, he said terrorists’ use of emerging technologies like new digital payment methods, encrypted messaging services, cryptocurrencies, and crowdfunding platforms posed a dynamic threat for most Member States.  In this context, he highlighted India’s active engagement in discussions to elaborate an international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.  Turning to human trafficking, he pointed to the anti-human trafficking cells that have been set up across the country, adding that his Government has initiated a multi-year project to train law enforcement officers in the fight against human trafficking.

EVA CELESTE ROMULUS ORTEGA (Mexico) said her country would continue to prioritize international cooperation in preventing human trafficking and migrant smuggling with a gender and human rights perspective.  Similarly, she highlighted her country’s focus on preventing and combatting the illicit trafficking of weapons through the transport trade.  The link between violence on one hand, and organized crime, as well as the manufacture and distribution of firearms on the other, cannot be denied, she said, adding that companies manufacturing and distributing firearms must be held accountable and take responsibility for the negative consequences of their business activities.  Pointing to the significant increase in cybercrime, including criminal groups using this technology in conducting their criminal activities, she called for strengthening the synergies between United Nations agencies based in Vienna and others, such as the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council.

AVITAL MIMRAN ROSENBERG (Israel) said that crime prevention, drug control and countering the use of ICT for criminal proposes are vital issues effecting people worldwide.  Israel has enhanced its efforts on cybercrimes and adopted new tools to prevent them, including blocking access, removing illegal online content and cooperating with global law enforcement agencies.  Calling for an international commitment to combat the “pandemic of drug abuse”, she added that dangerous behaviours like drug use are often the result of mental and physical distress.  Treating the problem at an early stage can assist in preventing future consequences, she said.  Cross-sectoral activities, implemented with civil society organizations and the private sector, help make cities and communities safe, resilient and sustainable.

NELLY BANAKEN ELEL (Cameroon) expressed concern about the close interconnection between drugs, terrorism and cybercrime, emphasizing that her country had been subjected to attacks by Boko Haram Islamists in the Far North Region and secessionists in the North-West and South-West regions.  To address international crime as a global and multifaceted issue, a comprehensive response is needed, combining the fight against terrorism and the uses of ICT that accelerate it.  Touching on new technologies — increasingly available in her country — and their potential use for criminal purposes, ranging from cyberterrorism to piracy, she stressed Cameroon’s legal and operation measures on cybersecurity and cybercrime.  A specific law on the issues had been put in place in 2010, addressing criminal rules, rules of procedure, international cooperation, consumer protection and other areas.  Cameroon was following closely the work on adoption of an international instrument on cybercrime, which would be a “precious tool” to combat the criminal use of cyber space, while fostering trust building measures and building capacity.  She expressed hope that discussions within the ad hoc committee would lead to efficient instruments allowing for international cooperation mechanisms aligned to existing national and international tools. Further, she said that the future convention should facilitate technical assistance and transfer of technology between countries and open room for tailored capacity building programs, considering the capacities and needs of developing countries.

IGOR PILIPENKO (Belarus), addressing crime prevention, said that attention must be paid to new forms of organized crime using innovative financial instruments, adding that ICT used for criminal purposes undermined democratic institutions, public order and sustainable development.  To that end, he said his country had adopted the Information Security Concept and State Information Policy.  On a regional level, Belarus supported cooperation through the Collective Security Treaty Organization, he said, adding that it would pay particular heed to cybercrime under its chairmanship of that body until the end of 2023.  Turning to crimes committed through cryptocurrencies and the dark web, he stressed the importance of information sharing between Member States on how to detect crimes as well as select and seize digital evidence to investigate them.  Underlining the need for a legal mechanism to seize cryptocurrency assets while a verdict is reached by courts, he called for cooperation in the continuing work identifying and investigating cybercrime.

Ms. NKOMBO (Zambia), aligning herself with the African Group, said her country continued to develop different measures to control illicit drug trafficking and address emerging challenges, while also taking steps to make available controlled substances for medicinal and scientific purposes.  Pointing to her Government’s drug prevention programmes, including counselling treatment, rehabilitation, and social integration services, she stressed the need to promote sustainable livelihood programmes in remote rural areas where cultivation of cannabis is most prevalent, as a deterrent to cultivation of cannabis.  Cognizant of the role international cooperation plays in addressing and countering illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse, her Government would continue to implement evidence-based approaches, she said.  Countering the world drug problem was a shared responsibility that must be addressed in a multilateral setting, she underlined, reiterating that calls for decriminalization and legalization of illicit drugs such as cannabis for social or recreational use were against the spirit of the three international drug treaties.

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said that efforts to address crime, at both the national and international levels, must be led by States in a cooperative, rather than punitive, manner.  He emphasized the need to avoid rankings among countries and abolish unilateral lists, which only contribute to politicization and selectivity, particularly against the South.  In the fight against crime, he recognized the role of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Commission on Narcotics, the importance of the Congresses on Crime Prevention and the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee in developing a legally binding instrument against the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.  “For decades, my country has not only had to face the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against our people, but also the radio-electronic aggression from United States territory.  In addition to this, social networks are being used to incite violence and crime,” he said.  On drug abuse and dependence, he noted the enormous cost of this scourge, adding that the problem would not be solved by militarizing countries or legalizing drugs.  He defended the international narcotics regime and the intergovernmental bodies overseeing it, underscoring the relevance of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that crimes against the environment such as unlawful deforestation, illegal mining as well as wildlife and waste trafficking had a negative impact on sustainable development.  He decried that, though environmental crimes frequently affected our common resources, they were often perceived as victimless.  Recalling that production, trafficking, and consumption of drugs would increase in coming years, he stressed the consequent threat to the well-being of civil society, urging the international community to continue combatting drug use.  He added that the Holy See was against legalizing drugs and condemned “drug-culture”, and urged society and law enforcement to identify trafficking networks and prosecute major criminals.  However, anti-drug policies must include treatment, psychosocial support and employment opportunities for people struggling with drug addiction.  Speaking on the criminal use of ICT, he said that the rapid development of ICT had been positive, but that tools were not always neutral.  Bringing attention to criminal exploitation and abuse, the distribution and consumption of child pornography, he said that “States are required to take the necessary measures to prevent and tackle their production and dissemination”.  Turning to terrorist uses of ICT such as radicalization, recruitment, fundraising and cyberattacks as well as untraceable money transfer in the form of cryptocurrencies on the dark web, he called for anti-terrorist financing measures to effectively prevent the malicious use of cryptocurrency.

FATEMEH ARAB BAFRANI (Iran) drew attention to drug plans and programs on demand reduction, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation implemented by her Government.  Iran had established treatment and rehabilitation centres, especially for women, and supported relevant civil society and non-governmental organizations, she noted.  Welcoming any bilateral, regional, and international cooperation in areas related to the fight against narcotics, she pointed to the tripartite initiative for cooperation in the field of narcotics that had been established between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  She further highlighted several cooperative activities with the UNODC country office in Tehran and other United Nations specialized agencies such as UNICEF.  In 2021, Iran had carried out approximately 5,000 operations and armed confrontations to dismantle more than 2,300 armed drug trafficking rings as well as active local, regional and international networks.  Through these operations, Iran had prevented the entry of more than 1,100 tons of several types of drugs into global illicit drug markets.  By seizing 92 per cent of opium, 59 per cent of morphine, and 27 per cent of heroin at the global level, it set a unique record in illicit drug seizures, she said.

AZRIL BIN ABD AZIZ (Malaysia) said that criminals, be they individuals or organisations, are transitioning into the virtual realm, as people become increasingly reliant on digital technologies in their daily lives.  Technologies have enabled criminal activities to be conducted beyond national borders, he said, noting that several Malaysians had fallen prey to online job offer scams, resulting in them being stranded or detained in neighbouring countries.  In addition, illicit drug use and trafficking continue to pose a serious transnational threat challenging the stability, security and sovereignty of States.  He also pointed to Malaysia’s multidimensional approach in tackling the issue of drugs, with measures ranging from addressing drug supply-related matters to ensuring rehabilitation.  However, national efforts to combat crime and drugs must be supplemented with regional and international cooperation, he said, by sharing best practices, information and capacity-building.  At the ASEAN level, Malaysia is reviewing a proposal to set up a special committee to prevent its nationals from falling victim to overseas job opportunity scams.

JAIRO ANDRES PAREDES CAMPAÑA (Colombia) said that strengthening innovative strategies focused on public health, human rights and international cooperation was vital in combatting drugs.  Affected States must adopt mechanisms that would disincentivize the market for illicit drugs and address associated violence.  Efforts towards crop substitutions and territorial development should be pursued, maintaining a direct dialogue with communities to prevent them from falling victim to organized crime.  On crime prevention, he pointed to the “Special session of the General Assembly against corruption” resolution, adopted by that body, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption, expressing support for the creation of a mechanism to implement them.  Recognizing the international community efforts to move forward in the negotiation on cybercrime, he reiterated his country’s commitment to strengthening international cooperation and capacity-building.

LUZ DEL CARMEN ANDÚJAR (Dominican Republic) said that crime, corruption and the global drug problem exacerbated human suffering, impeding achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Criminal activity undermined civilian security and sapped Government resources to ensure it.  Last year, the Dominican Republic had achieved more transparency and fought drug trafficking by strengthening justice and security systems, she said, which in turn bolstered a democracy respecting human rights.  Turning to cybercrime, she called for an international instrument that would help address the problem.  Describing human trafficking as “one of the gravest violations of human rights,” she urged the international community to collectively combat this scourge.  Her country had closely collaborated with UNODC to launch a strategic vision for Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen the response against organized crime, human trafficking, and corruption in the region, she said.  For this vision to succeed, institutions must be made accountable and transparent, and the rule of law must be applied to individuals.

TRAN NAM TRUNG DANG (Viet Nam), aligning himself with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the world drug problem threatened national economic development, social security, and public health.  Welcoming efforts by the international community to address the problem, especially the leading role of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and UNODC, he said Viet Nam had been implementing comprehensive approaches to drug control programs and drug-related crime prevention, using a people-centred approach.  Moreover, the country had amended laws for preventing illegal trans-border drug trafficking by land, waterway, and air.  It had also disseminated anti-drug programs, diversified rehabilitation models for drug addicts and controlled illegal drug-related activities.  Calling for more coordinated efforts in realizing a drug-free world and eliminating the root causes of drug problems, he underscored the importance of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States.

EKATERINE LORTKIPANIDZE (Georgia) said that promoting international cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and address all forms of crime was vital in ensuring fair, transparent and accountable criminal justice processes based on the rule of law, due process and human rights.  While recognizing the vital role of digital technologies for the protection and promotion of human rights, for bettering effective governance and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she said technologies in wrong hands could pose threats to societies.  To fight cybercrime, Georgia had essentially reformed its substantive and procedural legislation and policy instruments.  Combating drug abuse and the introduction of a balanced and evidence-based drug policy remained one of the key priorities for the Government.  The Inter-Agency Coordinating Council for Combating Drug Abuse remained the key institution in policy-shaping processes.  It brought together all relevant stakeholders, including State agencies, civil sector, academia and international partners.  She further detailed her country’s anti-drug strategies and plans, including the 2010-established National Drug Observatory to collect data.

MOHAMMED BUBA MARWA (Nigeria), highlighting the multifaceted challenges of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, said drug trafficking and abuse were major enablers for various crimes in his country, including terrorism.  This nexus between crime and drugs played a major role in protracted cases of terrorism, kidnapping, and banditry in Nigeria.  Raid operations on the criminal enclaves had revealed that criminal groups relied heavily on drugs to perpetrate their atrocities, he said, noting that drugs such as tramadol, captagon and cannabis have become their means of sustainability.  The role of ICT is yet another twist in the drug trafficking scenario, he warned, noting that the global COVID-19 lockdown led to increased use of the dark web.  He went on to underscore that drug users are often afflicted by mental health disorders and other conditions, including HIV and AIDS, and — as vulnerable members of society — have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.  To this end, the Nigerian Government had introduced a 24/7 toll-free call centre for drug abusers, based on the principles of anonymity, confidentiality, and safety.  Further, Nigeria had introduced the Aletheia lie detector system at the new terminal of Murtala Mohammed International Airport to combat illicit drug trafficking.  He noted that a total of 17,647 drug suspects had been arrested between January 2021 and May 2022, and 3.5 million kilograms seized.  Also, two clandestine methamphetamine laboratories had been dismantled and a total of 2,369 drug traffickers convicted.

CHONNAKANT LERTSATIT (Thailand) drew attention to the emergence of new types of cross-jurisdictional crime — from environmental crime to cybercrime — and the inability to access the criminal justice system due to socioeconomic inequalities.  Calling for accountable criminal justice institutions, he underscored the need to work with multi-stakeholders to bring about an effective criminal justice system.  He also stressed the importance of fostering a suitable environment, both inside and beyond prisons, to reintegrate offenders into society, while reducing the risks of reoffending.  Thailand strove to promote implementation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners — “the Mandela Rule” — to uphold their rights and dignity as human beings.  Since 2019, Thailand had applied the understanding that “drug users are patients rather than convicts”, to approach this challenge in a holistic manner, he said, highlighting the need to address the root causes of drug problems.

LENKA ALDORF (Czech Republic), highlighting the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital technologies, said new technologies have great potential to contribute to the promotion of human rights, but also pose significant challenges.  With ongoing digitalization and advances in new technologies, the need to protect all human rights is becoming more urgent, she asserted, adding that human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), are as applicable in cyberspace as in the physical domain.  Reiterating universality and interdependence of all human rights, she called for effective implementation of human rights standards, expressing support for the role of national and international human rights monitoring mechanisms.  Promoting the concept of digital humanism and a human rights-based approach to emerging digital technologies, she drew attention to the new, legally binding instrument on the impact of artificial intelligence on human rights.  Expressing concern over shrinking civic and democratic space online, she condemned violence and persecution of journalists, human rights defenders and other members of civil society.

MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) said his delegation would be submitting a resolution to the Committee next week on the Programme on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, hoping to build successfully on last year’s resolution, which was co-sponsored by more than 100 delegations.  Underscoring his country’s long-standing cooperation with UNODC, he stressed the role of civil society organizations in the intergovernmental process to help design policies, including those on crime prevention and criminal justice.  Pointing to prominent Italian anti-mafia magistrates Judge Giovanni Falcone and Judge Paolo Borsellino, he said the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was inspired by their intuitions.  “Twenty years after the entry into force of the Palermo Convention and its Protocols, we must continue to work on their full implementation,” he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to ensure the operationalization of the review mechanism of the Convention, adopted in 2018.

Mr. LAFIZOV (Tajikistan) said the proliferation of illicit trafficking had turned into a breeding ground for terrorism and organized crime, requiring joint and coordinated actions at the regional and international levels.  An integral part of the joint fight against terrorism and organized crime was the prevention of illicit trafficking.  It was paramount for Tajikistan to strengthen its borders and create necessary infrastructure, particularly with Afghanistan, as the two countries share 1400 kilometres of “very difficult to control border”.  With the Taliban takeover, opium production in Afghanistan has increased by 6.8 thousand tons, equalling 320 tons of pure heroin.  Noting that the increase of drug users threatens the stability of societies, he said that improving coordination and supporting countries on the frontline was essential.  Recognizing the critical role of the International Narcotics Control Board, he detailed national strategies for combating drug trafficking as well as tackling terrorism and human trafficking, stressing the importance of regional mechanisms of cooperation.

Statement by Japan to come.

CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI, (Ghana) said that crime prevention and criminal justice remained critical to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.  Acknowledging the strong multilateral frameworks that already existed to bolster institutions, she said that heavy caseloads delayed administering justice and produced weak State responses to new forms of criminality.  Detailing the country’s strategy to retool justice agencies through added manpower and reform, she cited the Justice for All program as an example.  The program decongested the prison system, especially in women’s prisons, she said, adding that the proportion of women in prison dropped from 33 per cent in 2007 to 9.5 per cent in 2022.  Hailing the UNODC’s technological support in preventing crime, she called for cooperation between all Member States, as organized, cyber trafficking crimes were transnational.  Stressing the equal importance of investigating “drivers” of crime, she underlined the importance of access to employment for women and youth as well as their voice in decision-making processes.  She called for a global convention on cybercrime with practical measures that “stand the test of time” as well as for Member States to integrate conventions into national legislation.

DAHMANE YAHIAOUI (Algeria), underscoring the role of development in combatting crime effectively, stressed that that his country had set up all necessary mechanisms to counter the root causes of crime through a range of provisions on prevention and victim protection.  Pointing to the establishment of a national monitoring centre for civil society and young people, he described such centres as key factors in raising awareness.  With regard to combatting various types of crime, including illicit drug trafficking, he voiced concern over the increased use of ICT for criminal and terrorist purposes, including recruitment.  Reiterating his government’s focus on a comprehensive convention to curb the use of ICT for criminal purposes, he noted that this issue has hampered technological development.

ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia) said that current international, regional and national regulations countering digital technology misuse were far behind actual developments.  Detailing his Government’s latest efforts to address the use of ICT for criminal purposes, he said they included a package of legal documents supporting digital development and providing a legal foundation for effective collaboration among national authorities on addressing cyberthreats.  “One of the problems on which the law enforcement agencies of Mongolia focus exclusive attention is the growth of illegal drugs and psychotropic substances circulation in Mongolia”, he said.  Pointing to the World Drug Report 2021, he stressed that during the period 2015 to 2019, more than 90 per cent of the methamphetamine seized globally was seized in South-East Asia and North America.  In the South-East Asian region, seizures were estimated at 141 tons.  Despite efforts by national authorities, illegal circulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances was increasing yearly, and users’ ages getting younger.  “There is a need to effectively organize prevention measures, increase public awareness at all levels, educate on harmful effects, and treat people who have become users or addicts”, he noted.

Statement by the United States to come.

AYSE INANÇ ÖRNEKOL (Türkiye) described transnational organized crime as one of the key challenges hindering efforts to maintain international security, achieve sustainable development and ensure enjoyment of human rights.  In Turkey, victims of human trafficking benefit from support services and can choose to return to their countries on a voluntary basis, she said, pointing to sound cooperation with international organizations, mainly the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in addressing the needs of victims.  As a country hosting the largest refugee population, Turkey attaches utmost importance to protecting the rights of migrants, refugees and victims of trafficking.  Highlighting growing links between transnational organized crime and terrorism, she reiterated her country’s commitment to combatting terrorism in all its forms.  No single country could fight this scourge on its own, she said, stressing that a selective approach to terrorist organizations is unacceptable.  Effective implementation of the universal principle of “extradite or prosecute” is crucial for a collective response to terrorism.  Due to its geographic location, Turkey was exposed to an extensive flow of illicit goods, she said, underlining her Government’s fight against domestic distribution networks as well as its efforts to dismantle the international drug trafficking networks and concentrate on investigations related to the financing of terrorism.

ANA MARÍA ALONSO GIGANTO (Spain), underlining the importance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, said international cooperation to enforce rule of law was needed to combat crimes of a “cross-border” nature.  Spain and Guatemala would present a resolution for the third time to address crimes against trafficking of human organs, cells and tissues, which, she stressed, were an affront to human dignity, the right to life and a threat to public health.  She recalled the 2011 Madrid Resolution, which provides a framework for countries to move toward self-sufficiency in achieving access to transplants and ending unethical practices in this field.  Speaking on Spain’s work against trafficking as a member of the European Council, she invited all Member and non-Member States to participate in the creation of a resolution to prevent this type of crime.

LIBNA ELUBINA BONILLA ALARCÓN (Guatemala) underscored the need to strengthen constitutional rule of law through policies on prevention in justice systems.  Pointing to her country’s participation in the fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, she said emerging forms of crime required a constantly innovating justice system to combat and prevent them.  Guatemala had implemented programmes to combat crime, she said, underlining her Government’s commitment to build capacity and strengthen its national institutions in identifying these types of crime.  On the use of ICT for criminal and terrorist purposes, she noted that cybercrime required cooperation between States to guarantee sovereignty, public order, security and respect for human rights.  Stressing the importance of preventing and combating human trafficking aimed at extracting and trafficking human organs, she reiterated her Government’s strong commitment to the fight against crime in all its form.

BLANDINA RUTH VIDITHA ADELEIDE PELLA (Indonesia), aligning herself with ASEAN, said that the international community must understand how crimes are changing, where new crimes are emerging and how it can best respond as a global community.  Close attention must be paid to emerging transnational crimes, as an increasing number of people fall victim to them.  Moving from cyberspace to oceans, she highlighted the detrimental impact of fishery crimes and their close relation with other transnational crimes, including people smuggling as well as human and drug trafficking.  Noting that recent years had shown an increase in the number of youths being victimized, targeted and recruited by criminal groups, she said a prevention strategy responsive to youth, especially in the digital space, must be adopted.  She acknowledged the importance of youth empowerment in crime prevention and justice initiatives as well as the creation of safe environments to prevent their involvement in criminal activities.  Calling for enhanced multilateral cooperation at all levels, she said this included fostering mutual legal assistance, strengthening information exchange and expanding collaboration with United Nations agencies.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said that access to the Internet provided great benefits, but posed challenges to human rights, urging States to instigate a new agenda of “protection and action”.  Listing benefits of digital globalization, such as democratizing institutions, offering alternatives to formal education and advantages to people with disabilities and the elderly, she underlined the need to address problems such as misinformation and hate speech leading to the incitement of violence against minority groups.  Network coverage was inequitable, she noted, as only 63 per cent of the world’s population had access to the internet.  Adding that access in many countries is further complicated by Government controls limiting or blocking it, she called on States to guarantee free and secure access to the Internet as well as to develop mechanisms ensuring transparency and the right to privacy.  Calling on Member States to ensure access to ICT as a human right, she stressed the importance of the comprehensive digitization of education “so that the digital age can grow in the service of the people”.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela), highlighting his country’s contribution in developing a transparent framework for combatting all forms of crime, stressed the need for regional and multilateral cooperation, alongside international law, to fight criminal networks that know no borders.  To this end, he expressed support for the initiative to achieve the United Nations Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes.  Regarding trafficking of persons and smuggling of migrants, he condemned all crimes against people in situations of vulnerability, including slave labour, sexual discrimination and violations of fundamental human rights that exacerbated human suffering.  The proliferation of criminal gangs and mafia groups had been worsened during the pandemic, he added, calling for a coordinated response.  In recent years, Venezuela had continued its efforts to combat cross-border crime in accordance with its obligations under the multilateral framework of the United Nations, he noted, stressing the importance of the principles of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity.

ANASTASIOS KEZAS (Greece), aligning himself with the observer for the European Union, said his country had upgraded lifelong learning programmes and increased young people’s trust in the criminal justice system by enacting in 2020 special legislation increasing procedural safeguards for children and young persons.  Acknowledging that human trafficking was one of the major challenges faced by the global community today, he noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted new dangers for victims of human trafficking and smuggling, especially for the most vulnerable groups.  Due to Greece’s geographical position as a getaway of the European Union Schengen area, the Government was fighting against human trafficking daily.  To be better equipped in this fight, he pointed to an amendment of the penal code in 2021 and ratification of the Council of Europe convention on violence against women.  Noting that commitment was a pillar of stability in the region, he said solutions required consistent actions, indomitable will, resolve, determination and cooperation.

Mr. CHABI (Morocco) expressed concern about the growing threat posed by transnational organized crime and its direct links to terrorism, violence and extremism.  Stressing that organized crime is often financed by drugs, arms and human trafficking, he called for international cooperation in combatting the various forms of cybercrime, including extremism, extortion, and abuse.  To that end, Morocco had implemented a law to combat cybercrime, which had strengthened legal provisions, secured online services, protected private data, improved national institutional software and combatted cybercriminals.  Further detailing actions to combat cybercrime, he said these included establishment of digital forensic units, awareness campaigns in schools and information sharing with partner countries.  He highlighted the country’s holistic approach in combatting illegal migration, which in 2021 stopped more than 63,000 attempts to traffic migrants, with many rescued at sea.

YANIQUE NISSAN DACOSTA (Jamaica), aligning herself with CARICOM, said her country was faced with an epidemic of crime and violence.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent disruption in education, challenges with mental health were being increasingly expressed in violent ways.  The propensity to resolve conflict or cope with social and mental stresses through violence required a public health response.  To that end, Jamaica had continued to engage in global initiatives, such as the Partnership to End Violence Against Children, and had increased the allocation of resources for initiatives targeting vulnerable and at-risk youth.  On transnational organised crime, she said the Government had continued to adopt strategies at the national level to remove criminals from society.  However, the situation was exacerbated by the influx of illegal and unregistered small arms into the country, she warned, from transnational criminal enterprises to street-level gangs and misguided youth in impoverished urban communities.  The availability of guns was driving an ever-increasing homicide rate, one of the highest in the world per capita.  Calling for a “war on guns”, she stressed the importance of collaborative efforts resulting in the apprehension, conviction and extradition of those who play an integral role in the guns for drugs trade.

JUAN JOSÉ RIVA GRELA (Uruguay), highlighting the need to improve cybersecurity and cyberspace, welcomed the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes.  With increased immersion in the digital environment, the range of risks had continued to increase, he said, expressing concern over child pornography, data theft, online bullying and undermining vital infrastructure.  He stressed the need for resilient infrastructure, public partnerships and qualified staff in police and justice systems to identify, prosecute and bring to justice criminals in this area of crime.  To that end, countries with fewer resources must be supported, he said.  Protection and respect for human rights is crucial, he emphasized, adding that all measures undertaken in the area must fulfil human rights commitments.

RABIA IJAZ (Pakistan) pointed to the World Drug Report 2022, noting that opium production worldwide had grown 7 per cent between 2020 and 2021.  Cannabis legalization in certain parts of the world appeared to have accelerated daily use and related health impacts, while rises in the manufacturing of cocaine and the expansion of synthetic drugs to new markets had been recorded.  She said it was ”worrisome” that around 284 million people aged 15 to 64 used drugs worldwide in 2020, a 26 per cent increase over the previous decade.  “With the proliferation of new technology, drug flows are more than ever characterized by rapid changes in trafficking routes, modus operandi and concealment methods”, she said.  She expressed “particular concern about the steady rise in poppy cultivation and production in our neighbourhood, since Pakistan is one of the most affected transit States”.  The use of ICT for criminal purposes, which had enabled many other types of crimes, inhibited the potential of digital economies, she said, adding that “swift information exchange to combat such crimes” was needed.  The main difficulty was that data was often located in a jurisdiction different from the one where the crime had been carried out, often in the possession of private companies.

Ms. DURIC, of the International Anti-Corruption Academy, said that corruption was an insidious gateway for international criminal organizations and organized criminal groups.  Corrupt networks enabled trafficking in persons, drugs, psychotropic substances, firearms, and endangered animal species and slow progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Further, she specified that “corrupt judicial systems impede access to justice” and lead to massive human rights violations.  As such, the Academy assists States in meeting their obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, she said.  Offering both master’s degree programmes as well as standardized and tailor-made trainings, the Academy helped actors in their efforts to bolster anti-corruption measures.  Underlining the Academy’s accessibility on financial, linguistic and geographical levels, she highlighted its work with least developed nations.  The trainings were designed to respond to anti-corruption and compliance challenges public and private institutions face, with added focus on the nexus between corruption, environmental and financial crime, the implementation of emerging technologies, and the protection of whistle-blowers.  She added that anti-corruption education and training were linked to reducing poverty, and fostering inclusive, sustainable and fair societies.

The representative of the Russian Federation, in exercise of the right of reply, condemned “political accusations” against his country during the meeting.  He said that this approach was irresponsible, distracting the Committee from important issues such as crime-prevention and criminal justice.  Acknowledging that the world was indeed in difficulty, he underscored that attempts to link unrelated issues had only further complicated matters.  He thanked Member States who spoke in a productive and unbiased way.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials online course is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.