12 December 2000



High-level Meeting Addressed by 11 Heads of State
Or Government, Other Government Representatives

The High-Level Signing Conference for the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime this afternoon heard statements by Heads of State or Government and other government representatives after electing the Minister of Justice of Italy, Piero Fassino, as President.

Speaking at this meeting, the Vice-President of Colombia, Gustavo Bell Lemus, said that while the current steps being taken to combat transnational crime were gigantic, much more still had to done to eliminate it. Developing countries required greater cooperation and additional resources to enable them to strengthen existing policies. "The tools that we now have must go beyond merely identifying offences and instead lead to greater legal cooperation", he said.

Many statements this afternoon underscored the fact that success in the fight against crime would only be achieved if socio-economic factors were examined. Others pointed towards the link between poverty and criminality.

The Minister of Justice of France (speaking on behalf of the European Union), said that while the newly adopted Convention provided proof of the high degree of solidarity in the international community in the fight against transnational organized crime, the battle had yet to be won. Negotiations on the protocol against the manufacturing of and trafficking in illicit firearms must be completed by the end of 2001, she stressed. It was important to maintain the momenetum that would hopefully lead to consensus.

Iran’s Foreign Minister said custom-made incentives must be provided to countries which were willing to become actively involved in the fight against organized crime. One pertinent question was whether a panacea existed to rid the world of the threatening phenomenon of crime. No country in the world had as yet managed to cope with the situation single-handedly. Combating transnational crime therefore needed the common efforts of all nations, he urged.

In addition to the election of Minister Fassino as President, the Conference elected Gonzalo Salvador (Ecuador), Marylise Lebranchu (France), Nobuyaou Abe (Japan), Eduardo Ibarrola Nicolin (Mexico), Shaukat Umer (Pakistan), Janusz Rydykowski (Poland), Alojz Nemethy (Slovakia) and Bechir Tekari(Tunisia) as Vice-Presidents.

The Conference also adopted its rules of procedure, agenda and programme of work.

Statements were also made this afternoon by the President of Austria, Thomas Klestil; the Prime Minister of Uganda; the President of Bolivia, Hugo Banzer; the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Boris Trajovski; the President of Albania, Rexhep Meidani; the President of Togo, Acbeyome Kodjo (on behalf of the Organization of African Unity); the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov; the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Martin Ragu; the President of Mauritius, Cassam Uteem; the President of Seychelles, James Alix Michel; and the President of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic.

The Vice-President of Guatemala; the Federal Minister of Justice of Germany; the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation; the Minister of Justice of Poland; and the representative of Liechtenstein also addressed the meeting.

At a ceremony this morning, presided over by United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the Convention and its two related protocols were officially opened for signature. The new treaty, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 November, will enter into force after 40 countries have ratified it. During the Conference, countries will also have the opportunity to sign two protocols, one to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the other against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air.

The High-Level Conference will continue its general debate at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 13 December.

Conference Work Programme

The High-Level Signing Conference on the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime met this afternoon to elect its officers and begin its general debate. The new treaty, adopted by the General Assembly on 15 November, will enter into force after 40 countries have ratified it.

During the four-day Conference, countries will also have the opportunity to sign two protocols, one to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the other against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air.

Statement by Conference President

Following his election as President of the Conference, PIERO FASSINO, Minister of Justice of Italy, said that the Conference was important not only because of the discussions to be held, but also because it offered countries the opportunity to sign specific instruments with which they could more effectively fight organized crime. The Convention and its Protocols on Trafficking of Persons and Smuggling of Migrants were an enormous step forward. By signing, governments were committing themselves to integrate into their national legislation the principles enshrined in the treaty. Standardizing and harmonizing national legislation would make it possible to more effectively fight organized crime, making countries safer. Organized crime often chose countries that did not have strong legislation.

He hoped that the Convention and protocols would be signed by all United Nations Member States, thus making it more effective in the fight against organized crime. With a large number of States signing the documents, he hoped that ratification would soon follow. Signing was a political act and had to be put into effect through ratification. With signature and quick ratification, there should also be an equally quick translation of the Convention and its protocols into domestic legislation in order to ensure that it becomes law in each State. The effort made at the Conference would contribute to the efforts already being made by the international community.


The President of Austria, THOMAS KLESTIL: There is growing scale of transnational criminal activities throughout the world; such activities damaged the quality of life, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The sums of money generated by such crimes may also destablize regions. Society as a whole has to be aware of transnational criminal groups. As the world becomes a global village, organized crime groups enjoy the same advantages as everyone else. The mixture of unlimited freedom of activity and lack of any moral limits is a global challenge of the first order. There is therefore a need for effective global responses.

The International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime establishes criminal offences according to a global standard and urges States parties to transform their own national laws accordingly. The two protocols to the Treaty are integral parts of the war against organized crime. Yet the task is not complete, as more work lies ahead. Negotiations should now begin on a convention against corruption. Investigations are currently under way in Vienna on this new and important legal instrument. International instruments have to be transformed into national laws and and appropriate institutions must be created.

The signatures on the new instruments underlines the commitment to enhance international cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime.

MARIO FRICK, Liechtenstein: Liechtenstein fully supports the international community’s efforts in the area of fighting organized crime, especially trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and financial crime. Financial crime, particularly money-laundering, was an increasing concern characterized by the high mobility of funds. It was often described as the heart of organized crime. Liechtenstein had adapted its legislation to comply with that of the European Union when it became a member of the Union. It had adopted additional measures to prevent the abuse of financial services. Its Parliament had given the Government the necessary new civil servants to do what it needed to do. The Government had also increased its cooperation with the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

In addition, the number of judges had been increased by 40 per cent and the number of public prosecutors doubled. Further, a new division on organized crime had been instituted in the police department. He was convinced that by implementing all those measures and cooperating with the relevant international organizations, the prevention of money-laundering would be ensured. Liechtenstein will continue to combat all forms of organized crime.

The Prime Minister of Uganda, APOLO R. NSIBAMBI: As we grapple with the problem of organized crime right now, criminals have their representatives who are capturing our tone, mood and deliberations. As soon as we are through with our deliberations, they will meet to change their tactics. This presents a serious challenge. It will therefore be important to research the changing course of criminal activities. Yet, how does one prescribe solutions unless the causes of the problem are known. The first cause of persistent crime is persistent poverty which makes it easy for criminals to recruit followers. In Uganda there is an acute need for asistance to grapple with this problem.

The spread of HIV/AIDS has produced vulnerable orphans. They too can be recruited for criminal activities. Africa needs assistance to grapple with the HIV/AIDS issue. Also, rampant instability and porous borders make it very difficult for us to monitor criminal activities. The challenge before us, therefore, is to recruit accountable and exemplary leaders who can grapple with the issue of organized crime. For its part, Uganda is determined to entrap and paralyse criminals who are networking the global village.

The President of Bolivia, HUGO BANZER: The Convention and its Protocols will send a strong message to all those who commit organized crime. It will ensure that national borders are not obstacles to justice and ways for people to escape justice. Three years ago, Bolivia decided to remove itself from the cocaine chain. When that difficult struggle was begun, few believed that it was possible. It was said that Bolivia, due to its low level of development and political structures, was running a dangerous risk fighting against such a powerful enemy. While the critics were partly correct, there was no other solution. Either drugs would destroy the country or the country had to come to grips with the problem and fight it.

When I became President, there were some 47,000 hectares of cocaine production in the country. In just a short time, we would be able to put to an end the areas used in the past to produce drugs. We are achieving results through much sacrifice. The Government is making efforts to extend the areas of alternative development so that other crops could be produced instead of drug crops. We must increase efforts to compensate for the income lost from the coca crop. The true heroes in the struggle are the people of Bolivia, who support the efforts undertaken. We must ensure that the results achieved are sustainable because drug trafficking has serious consequences affecting millions around the world.

Furthermore, in facing that challenge, democracy in the country has been strengthened through dialogue. Through it all, the Government has been able to reform the criminal code to accelerate the administration of justice. The goal is to make Bolivia a place that will become safer and safer for its people without the corruption brought on by drug trafficking. Bolivia is at the threshold of reaching its goal of eradicating the production of cocaine.

The President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, BORIS TRAJOVSKI: All countries face repercussions from organized crime, regardless of their level of development. The south-eastern European region is suitable for different types of crimes that are very frequently characterized by the presence of an organized form. My country, as a member of this region, undertakes serious measures to prevent and manage the new types of crimes. In this respect there are ongoing reforms to our legislation.

My country is in permanent cooperation with INTERPOL and EUROPOL, and also participates in the projects and activities of the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention. It also dedicates a great deal of attention to direct cooperation with other countries. In this regard it has concluded bilateral cooperation agreements in the area of security, with special emphasis on the fight against organized crime.

Today’s solemn act will certainly be recorded as a historic event that will formulate the concept for joint action by countries in the fight against transnational crime. The Treaty and its related protocols are among the most important international documents that are appropriate to the real needs of the international community in the fight against organized criminality.

The President of Albania, REXHEP MEIDANI: Along with measures to fight crime, Albanian authorities have focused their efforts at the regional and international level. Recently, important steps were taken to combat illegal trafficking. While positive results have been forthcoming, there are still boats en route to Italy with clandestine migrants on board. The bulk of the immigrants are from the former Soviet Union. Such examples showed how well organized the network of traffickers were. Albania’s neighbours have the same responsibilities to fight illegal trafficking. Blocking illegal trafficking requires both regional and international measures. We are striving to extend our cooperation to our neighbours. On a bilateral level, Albania has established cooperation with Italy and Greece, as well as other neighbours. As a result, illegal trafficking by way of Albania has been reduced.

We must further step up efforts in the fight against illegal trafficking. The sophisticated form that organized crime is assuming means that we need to improve our methods of detection. A powerful military presence, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), should also contribute to the efforts against organized crime. The assistance given to Albanian law authorities by the United States, the European Union and neighbouring countries was appreciated. In order to fight international organized crime, we must strengthen regional cooperation, set up and consolidate databases

and information networks and institute criminal proceedings against offenders. In the fight against crime, we need normal economic development, a strong judiciary and a healthy civil society. The Convention and its protocols constitute a genuine step forward in international cooperation to fight organized crime.

The Prime Minster of Togo, ACBEYOME KODJO, (on behalf of the Organization of African Unity): There has been a growing need to improve international cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime. Today’s agreements are both timely and necessary. The increase in transnational organized crime is linked to greater mobility of individuals, ideas and capital. Also, globalization has led to imbalances and tensions in poorer countries. This is the context for the trafficking in women and children; the manufacture of illicit arms; illegal transport of migrants and drugs; enslavement, coruption; prostitution; and illegal gambling. All of these issues must warrant our concern as transnational organized crime is involved in all of them.

We must create a better world in both the North and South to affirm solidarity. At the four corners of the earth, drugs continue to kill, destroy and injure mankind. Narcotics not only affect individuals but families and societies. Accoridng to United Nations figures, drug profits reach $400 billion, the equivalent of the gross national product (GNP) of the entire African continent. It will be an illusion to combat transnational crime without addressing the reasons for its progress over the years. Inequality between North and South and the drop in requirements for raw material and poverty are just some of the causes.

For many years, Togo had undertaken a struggle against violent crime. It has made the fight against drugs and transnational organized crime one of its priorities. The instruments opened for signing today have universal dimensions and will be useful in the attack on transnational organized crime. They will be ratified by African States in a timely manner.

EMOMALI RAKHMONOV, President of Tajikistan: In the twentieth century, humankind realized that we have common human values. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we must realize that we have common human dangers, the most dangerous of which is organized crime. Today, the international community is concerned by the fact that organized crime is spreading across countries and regions. It brings about regional, national and inter-regional conflicts. It is regrettable that the international community to date has not been able to agree even on a definition of terrorism. We are still witnessing the practice whereby terrorists are often portrayed as freedom fighters. The globalization of crime has shown that fighting it can not be done solely through one country’s domestic channels. One can only be effective if the international community is to realize its responsibility for that very dangerous phenomenon.

Organized crime is an obvious threat to democracy and the rule of law, especially in new and young democracies. Tajikistan has encountered difficulties stemming from organized crime in its various manifestations. Illegal drug trafficking is until recently considered local or regional. However, it is increasingly becoming of interest to many States. The United Nations Drug Control Board is bearing fruit, but not enough to eradicate the problem. Given that the Afghan conflict had not been stabilized, and that the country has become practically the global centre for drug production and trafficking, it is difficult to guard Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan. The conflict is giving Tajikistan an unstable image as a place unsuitable for international investment.

It is heartening to see that we have developed and approved the Convention, whose goal is to prevent and combat transnational organized crime. Tajikistan has also contributed to its development and contributed to the acceleration of its adoption. The Convention is a major success on the part of the United Nations in the fight against organized crime. We must realize that the rule of law and democracy hinges on whether or not we are able to suppress organized crime at the national and international levels.

The Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, MARTIN RAGU: We are embarking on a merciless struggle against one of the the most complex problems of modern society. The basic security of the individual and the normal functioning of the State is threatenend by organized crime, which does not recognize national borders and spreads through continents at an amazing speed in an era of globalization.

It is imperative that all countries participate actively and responsibly in prevention and detection, as well as the eliminiation of the root causes and consequences of transnational organized crime. Bosnia and Herzegovina, only recently involved in a conflict, is particularly exposed because of the consequences of that conflict and destruction. Difficulties in applying the rule of law, the lack of appropriate institutions and qualified and efficient democratic bodies create conditions that can rapidly be filled by organized crime.

Across my country, trafficking in women and girls and illegal immigration has reached unimaginable levels. This, and the reasons mentioned before, are why my country has sigend the Convention and its two protocols today. The Convention is going to become a powerful weapon that will bring us together and make us stronger so that we can declare war on transnational organized crime. What is at stake is the security and democratic development of States parties to the Convention, and the security and developmenet of each individual and each child in a better world. We must not and will not fail.

CASSAM UTEEM, President of Mauritius: The ad hoc committee responsible for elaborating the Convention deserves to be commended for the colossal work that has been achieved. The Convention and its protocols are a clear testimony to the political will of governments to combat organized crime. That firm commitment is also evident in the high-level of representation at the Conference. There is no doubt that the Convention will constitute an effective tool and provide the necessary legal framework to combat money-laundering, drug trafficking, and trafficking in persons and firearms.

Mauritius is aware of the great risk for money-laundering posed by the free movement of capital. Criminals must be prevented from legitimizing their activities by channelling their illegitimate funds. If left unchecked, it could undermine the entire financial sector. Mauritius has enacted comprehensive legislation on money-laundering and empowered various agencies to effectively counter such activities. The Government went so far as to amend the Constitution to give constitutional status and security of tenure to the head of the Mauritius Economic Crime Office, who cannot be subject to the power of any other person or authority.

The review of legislation is an ongoing process and currently the Government is reviewing its laws on extradition. The main purpose is to have a more effective and modern framework to ensure greater international cooperation in the fight against organized crime. Although the manufacture and trafficking of arms and in women and children is not a problem in Mauritius, the relevant protocols are highly commendable and constitute the basis for appropriate legislation in affected countries. Crime in all its forms constitutes an obstacle to the development of many countries, particularly African countries. I appeal, on behalf of small island developing States and developing countries, particularly in Africa, to the developed world to equip us with the technical assistance and administrative tools to help fight organized crime.

The President of the Seychelles, JAMES ALIX MICHEL: International crime flourishes because it is able to make use of the world’s financial systems to disguise its capital and present an honourable front to what are essentially ill-gotten gains. The primary purpose is to make money. For the criminal, however, profits close to the source of the crime represent a particular vulnerability. Unless the criminal can effectively distance himself or herself from the crime, they are susceptible to detection and prosecution. The success of organized crime is therefore based on the ability to launder money. Estimates put the size and magnitudue of the money-laundering problem at more than $500 billion annually. This staggering amount is an incalculable detriment to the global financial system. The profits above all, intermingle with legitimate finances and allow criminals to manipulate fiancial systems.

Today’s opportunities for anonymity, rapidity of transactions and virtual banking allow money launderers increasing ease with which to launder their funds. Seychelles has taken a number of steps to close the door on money launderers. Its 1996 anti-money-laundering act, for example, criminalizes money-laundering and requires financial institutions to maintain identification and record-keeping procedures and designates money-laundering as an extraditable offence. However, an area that is of concen to us is that some well-intentioned agencies have inappropriately labeled all offshore jurisdictions as havens for money-laundering. Offhsore entities, when well managed and controlled, offer a legitimate alternative in the international investment arena. The amalgamation with money-laundering therefore is grossly unfair and penalizes legitimate offshore jurisdictions which operate in a legal and transparent manner.

JUAN FRANCISCO LOPEZ, Vice-President of Guatemala: The meeting today to sign the International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the result of a long process which began with the work of the ad hoc committee. The Convention and its protocols are a step forward in the development of the necessary tools to fight organized crime. Guatemala has been directly involved in the work of the ad hoc committee on the elaboration of the Convention. It is necessary for a country such as Guatemala to put an end to decades of internal strife. It has been involved in a long process to find peace in the country. The Government has been following with great interest the development and adoption of the Convention. It had established new legislation and bilingual tribunals to better fight crime. Our approach to fighting organized crime must be global in scope. Economic and technical assistance is vital in ensuring the Convention’s implementation.

National sovereignty must be protected. Therefore, we share the basic principle that at no time should any State be able to exercise jurisdiction beyond its national authority. That does not mean we are not prepared to accept the support of developed countries. We need to ensure the cooperation of all countries. We must ensure that those involved in criminal activities cannot find safe hiding places. The Convention will be a very efficient tool to ensure greater international cooperation to fight organized crime.

The Vice-President of Colombia, GUSTAVO BELL LEMUS: Measures should be establishehd to ensure that there are no safe havens for criminals and that witnesses and victims are protected. One of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century is the security of States. There is a need for strengthened international cooperation to help States identify criminal actions. Also, a legal framework has to established to enhance the integral fight against organized crime. In this respct, the private sector has to be involved if we are to access the necessary resources that may be needed to address the problem of organized crime.

While much depends on cooperation and international solidarity, Colombia also recognizes its own responsibility in combatting organized crime. It has been trying to re-establish peace and restore economic, social and human development. There is also a need for preventive action and a thorough consideration of the causes and effects of any given crime. Measures should not only mitigate the vulnerability countries felt. To be truly effective in the fight against transnational crime, we must also look at socio-economic factors. Poverty and criminality must not be allowed to be linked. Prevention was therefore a key word. We must fight against marginalization, exclusion and social division.

While the current steps being taken to combat transnational crime were gigantic, much more still has to done to eliminate crime. Developing countries require greater cooperation and additional resources to enable them to strengthen existing policies. Victims must also be helped to overcome their fear of going to authorities. In addition, the tools that we now have must go beyond merely identifying offences and lead instead to greater legal cooperation. We must recognize that the present tools are not effective. Only by strengthening them can societies be built where all sectors will be strong enough and equal to the tasks before them.

The President of Croatia, STJEPAN MESIC: Classic crime, with which we are faced and shall continue to face, has now become at the very least a second-rate phenomenon in comparison with the immediate and long-term consequences of transnational organized crime. There is no crime that we should condone, but there is crime against which we must literally fight a war -- transnational organized crime. The Convention is the first significant step in that direction. Organized crime is a serious threat to the very foundations of the democratic world.

Unfortunately, Croatia has not been spared either the influence or the action of transnational organized crime. The number of drug addicts is increasingly disturbing and trafficking in people is flourishing. The Government is fighting crime, national and transnational alike, with all its might. It is also prepared to participate in international efforts focused on the prevention of crime and looks to the assistance and cooperation of other countries in this common struggle. I have personally come to Palermo in order to sign the Convention and to emphasize our firm commitment to the fight against transnational organized crime.

Croatia wants to demonstrate, first and foremost, that it is aware of the danger posed by crime. The victims of crime -- of yesterday, today and tomorrow -- do not give us the right to lose momentum, and least of all to fail. We simply must succeed.

The Minister of Justice of France, MARYLISE LEBRANCHU, speaking on behalf of the European Union: The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its related protocols constitute an exemplary set of standards for two reasons. The Treaty is the international community’s first global legal instrument for fighting transnational organized crime. Also, the instrument and its protocols provide proof of the high degree of solidarity among the international community in the fight against transnational organized crime by balancing the concerns of States from different geographical regions.

Yet the battle has not been won as yet. Negotiations on the protocol against the manufacturing of and trafficking in illicit firearms must be completed by the end of 2001. It is important to maintain the momenetum that hopefully leads to consesnsus. The Union would like negotiatiations on this instrument to resume as soon as possible and urges Member States to show the same spirit of compromise as during the adoption of today’s Convention.

The first step has been taken today with the siganture of the Convention and its protocols. The second step will be its entry into force. The mechansim established by the Convention will be a decisive contribution to ensuring the monitoring of developments in transnational organized crime. This mechanism will also facilitate the application of the Convention’s provisions on training, technical assistance and prevention. I also appeal for ratification of the Rome Statute so as to ensure that the odious crimes which have sullied the last century never happen again.

The Minister of Justice of Germany, HERTA DAUBLER-GMELIN: Palermo is a symbol of the fact that the fight against organized crime can be fought and won with the cooperation of dedicated leaders and a willing civil society. Today everyone knows that Palermo is a safe city once again. But that is not enough. Further efforts were needed on the regional, national and international levels. Any country that cannot depend on the support of the international community for its efforts was set up for failure. Germany has signed the Convention and its two protocols today, but the signing was no more than a preparation for the legal measures that have to be undertaken to implement the texts.

Organized crime has become a challenge and a threat to States as well as all of society. The Convention and its protocols form the basis on which the international community can cooperate closely to combat organized crime, which requires their implementation at the national level. A functioning system to confiscate the profits of organized crime and the training of law enforcement personnel responsible for confiscation were essential in that respect. I deeply regret that the protocol on firearms has not yet been open for signature, since no agreement has been reached on that text

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, KAMAL KHARRAZI: The globalization of crime poses countless risks to our societies and leads to situations where regional and international security are threatened. The magnitude and rising trend of criminal activities all over the world is unprecedented in history. The collapse of State sectors in many countries has also provided conducive environments to be exploited by criminal groups and elements. Criminals have benefited from opportunities created by a globalizing market economy. An attemnpt to find out the root causes of organized transnational crime is hazardous. Undoubtedly, a synthesis of the social, cultural and economic factors is key in understanding the issue.

Custom-made incentives must be provided to countries which are willing to become actively involved in the fight against organized crime. One pertinent question is whether a panacea exists to rid the world of the threatening phenomenon of crime. No country in the world had as yet managed to cope with the situation single-handedly. Combating transnational crime therefore needs the common efforts of all nations.

The Convention should strengthen and improve the criminal justice systems. The provision of technical assistance, the exchange of information and the training of criminal justice practitioners would undeniably alleviate the global effects of transnational crime. Iran has been subjected to the extremely disturbing menace of organized crime for 20 years and had had to battle heavily armed drug traffickers from Afghanistan. The material costs of this fight are high by any standards and the loss of life immeasurable. Although my country’s seizure of opium and heroin is the largest in the world, and despite the cost to it and the sacrifices, international assistance to Iran is negligible. No country on this planet can cope with this menace of the age alone. Success depends on meaningful cooperation.

The Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, SERGEI IVANOV: Drug trafficking, money-laundering, smuggling of migrants and corruption are among the many forms of organized crime that require the efforts of all States and an integrated approach. The United Nations has implemented that important idea by drawing up the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Russia intends to take part in practical measures to implement this text.

Mankind, having gone through two world wars, is entering a new millennium with its old social ills, among which are organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism. The globalization of economic and social processes has produced even more sophisticated criminal activities. It is only by joint efforts that the international community can achieve an important breakthrough in fighting transnational organized crime. The Convention and its protocols are a major success for the United Nations in its endeavours to fight organized crime. From the very outset, Russia has taken active part in developing the Convention.

We hope that next year the protocol on firearms will also be adopted and open for signature. Now that delegations are putting their signatures to the Palermo Convention, it is essential to ensure national ratification, so that it can enter into force. Organized crime must be deprived once and for all of the breeding ground of corruption. Therefore, it is necessary to proceed to develop an international instrument to fight corruption. The international community is facing increasing threats from international terrorism, which is destabilizing whole countries and regions. Developing a comprehensive convention to combat terrorism is an urgent priority. Russia, which knows what terrorism and drugs can lead to, is waging an uncompromising battle against them. It is ready for constructive interaction on fighting corruption with all interested States.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Poland, LECH KACZYNSKI: Transnational organized crime, in the context of globalization, integration of the world economy and unrestrained cross-border mobility, has become a serious challenge for those countries most affected by its consequences. The gravity of this highly menacing phenomenon has made countries aware of the need to elaborate a universal international legal instrument to combat it. Poland’s contribution to the Convention is not confined only to the presentation of the draft convention, but extended to active participation in substantive discussions held to work out solutions that would be acceptable to countries with dissimilar legal systems.

Combating organized crime in an effective way requires not only that perpetrators be prosecuted and punished but also that the offenders, especially those commanding organized criminal groups, be deprived of proceeds derived from criminal activity. This will require the States parties to the Convention to comply with this regime through the issuance of appropriate regulations governing the activities of banks and financial institutions. The Polish delegation hopes that the initial process of entry into force of the Convention will be accomplished within the shortest possible time and that the signatory countries shall fulfil the condition of obtaining 40 ratifications in the near future.

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