Round-up of Session

23 May 2003

United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Concludes Its Twelfth Session in Vienna, 13-22 May 2003

VIENNA, 23 May (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice concluded its twelfth session in Vienna yesterday. Delegates reviewed the activities of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP), focusing on human trafficking - the session's main theme - terrorism, kidnapping, the ratification of the Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and on Corruption, urban security, technical cooperation for crime prevention and other relevant matters.

Key resolutions adopted by the Commission call for action on transnational organized crime, terrorism, human trafficking, prevention of urban crime, and on a model treaty for the prevention of crimes against a country's cultural heritage.

Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

One of the CICP's main activities over the past year has been the promotion of the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols. The requisite number of ratifications has almost been reached, and the Convention is expected to enter into force in the course of 2003. The resolution urges Member States to ratify or to accede to the Convention and Protocols and emphasizes the need to provide the CICP with the resources necessary to assist Member States in the implementation of these new instruments.

Human Trafficking

The Commission held a thematic discussion on "Trafficking in Human Beings, especially Women and Children" on 13-14 May. The discussion was divided into three parts: (1) Trends in trafficking in human beings; (2) Investigating and prosecuting cases of trafficking in human beings: national and international law enforcement cooperation and assistance; and (3) Awareness-raising and social intervention: victim support and the role of civil society.

An important step forward in the fight against trafficking was the recent establishment of a database on trafficking by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) Centre for International Crime Prevention.

A Workshop, on "Trafficking in Human Beings, especially Women and Children," was also held during the meeting. The workshop, which brought together participants from five regional institutes, provided an analysis of the latest regional trends in human trafficking.

To coincide with the Commission's main theme of trafficking in human beings, a photo exhibition focusing on child trafficking in Benin and Gabon was held at the Vienna International Centre. The exhibition, prepared by the NGO "Anti-Slavery International, " showed the nefarious side of this trade -- the despair of the child victims exploited as domestic and farm labour. It also presented possible ways of assisting the victims, such as the provision of shelters.

In its resolution, the Commission urged Member States to employ a comprehensive approach in combating trafficking in persons and to assist in the re-integration of victims of trafficking in society.


The Commission underscored that strengthening global cooperation and technical assistance in preventing and combating international terrorism was crucial as no country or region was immune to its threat. It also recognized that the transnational character of modern terrorism required the international community's common efforts. Numerous delegations welcomed the recent decision by the General Assembly to strengthen the CICP's Terrorism Prevention Branch and supported the launching of the Global Programme against Terrorism. UNODC's critical role in providing technical assistance to requesting States, in order to strengthen their legal frameworks and institutional capacity to prevent and combat terrorism, was underlined.

Convention against Corruption

The Commission supported the negotiation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and Member States were encouraged to facilitate the completion of the last negotiation phase, scheduled during the Ad Hoc Committee meeting in July/August 2003. This would allow the new instrument to be submitted to the High-Level Signing Conference to take place in Merida, Mexico at the end of the year.


Various forms of kidnapping have assumed serious proportions, especially in certain countries. Since kidnapping was associated with the activities of organized criminal and terrorist groups, the Commission noted that its elimination remained a priority, and that greater international cooperation was required. New measures, as provided for in the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, were necessary and countries were urged to ratify the Convention and its Protocols to ensure their prompt application. The importance of identifying best practices in preventing and countering kidnapping was stressed. A counter-kidnapping pilot project being developed by the Secretariat should prove helpful in this regard.

Urban crime

In many countries, criminal activities have become a major threat to public safety in large urban centres. The Commission noted the linkages between urban crime and drug trafficking, organized crime and the illegal possession and use of firearms. There was a need for enhanced regional and international collaboration in the fight against urban crime. The United Nations and other international bodies were encouraged to include urban crime prevention in technical assistance and capacity building projects.

Cultural Heritage

The Commission stressed the serious harm done by the theft and illicit export of objects regarded as part of States' cultural heritage. Member States should promote mutual cooperation in preventing these illegal acts. In this context, it was recommended to take into account, when signing agreements with other States, a model Treaty for the Prevention of Crimes that Infringe on Cultural Heritage of Peoples in the Form of Movable Property, adopted by the eighth UN Crime Congress in 1990.

UN standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice

The Commission highlighted the continued relevance of UN standards and norms for building and maintaining the rule of law, including peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction. The Commission requested UNODC to review how these standards were applied in practice, the difficulties encountered, and the ways technical assistance could help overcome them and to come up with a proposal for a modernized reporting system on standards and norms. The NGO Penal Reform International presented a film showing successful examples of alternatives to imprisonment developed at the community level in Africa.

Eleventh UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The Commission thanked the Government of Thailand for offering to host the Eleventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime, to be held in Bangkok from 18 to 25 April 2005. The

Commission recommended that the Congress discuss five main topics: effective measures to combat transnational organized crime; international cooperation against terrorism and other criminal activities; corruption; economic and financial crimes; and making standards work in crime prevention and criminal justice. Other topics to be addressed at Congress workshops include law enforcement cooperation; enhancing criminal justice reform, including restorative justice; strategies and best practices for crime prevention, in particular in relation to urban crime and youth at risk; and measures to combat computer-related crime.

Technical assistance

The Commission expressed its satisfaction with the increasing scope of the technical cooperation and assistance activities undertaken by the Crime Centre, including the launching of the Global Programme against Terrorism and the Criminal Justice Reform Programme in Afghanistan. It thanked Member States for supporting the technical assistance activities of the Centre. It called upon all countries to make voluntary contributions to the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund and invited developing countries to enter into cost-sharing arrangements with the Centre. Some Commission members urged the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to explore creative new funding mechanisms, such as contributions from the private sector and other partnership options. The Commission also stressed the importance of transparency and accountability in all the work and noted the improved reporting procedures on implementation of projects.

The Commission welcomed the development of further synergies between the Crime and Drug programmes, particularly in areas such as fundraising, external relations, treaty affairs and financial management. The resolution on the work of the Centre stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluating projects. The Commission also welcomed the efforts made by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to maintain a continuous dialogue with Member States and other UN authorities which could profit from joint initiatives.

Rule of Law and Development -- the main theme in 2004

The rule of law and development is to be the main theme at the thirteenth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice next year.

Membership of Commission

In its first meeting on 13 May 2003, the Commission elected the following officers by acclamation:


Peter Poptchev (Bulgaria)

Vice Chairmen:

Mariano Alberto Ciafardini (Argentina)

Thomas Stelzer (Austria)

T. P. Sreenivasan (India)


Kamal Bashir Khair (Sudan)

The 40 members of the Commission are Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Japan, Mauritania, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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