Background Release

7 July 2003

UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to Enter into Force on 29 September 2003

VIENNA, 7 July (UN Information Service) - The fortieth instrument of ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was deposited with the Secretary-General on 1 July. In accordance with Article 38 of the Convention, it will enter into force on 29 September 2003. According to Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): "With the entry into force of the Convention, the international community will have demonstrated the political will to counter the worldwide challenge of organized crime by adopting a corresponding global response."

"Criminal groups have embraced today's global economy and the sophisticated technology that goes with it. Until recently, our efforts to combat them have remained very fragmented," Mr. Costa said.

The Convention is the first international instrument against transnational organized crime.  By ratifying the Convention, States commit themselves to adopting a series of crime-control measures, including the criminalization of participation in an organized criminal group, money-laundering, corruption, and obstruction of justice; extradition laws; mutual legal assistance; administrative and regulatory controls; law-enforcement; victim protection; and crime-prevention measures.

At a High-level Political Signing Conference, held from 12 to 16 December 2000 in Palermo, Italy, the Convention received an unprecedented number of signatures by 123 Member States; 24 more countries signed soon after.  As of today, the Convention, signed by 147 Member States, was ratified by the following forty States in the following chronological order: Monaco, Nigeria, Serbia-Montenegro, Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Peru, Spain, Mali, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, Canada, Venezuela, Burkina Faso, Philippines, Tajikistan, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, Namibia, Albania, Botswana, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Morocco, Algeria, France, Argentina, Romania, Croatia, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Mexico, Turkey, Mauritius, Cyprus, Seychelles, the Gambia, Tunisia, Belarus and Armenia.

In addition to the Convention, three related Protocols were agreed to in 2000.  The Protocol on Trafficking in Persons has been signed by 117 and ratified by 28 States.  The Protocol on Smuggling of Migrants has been signed by 112 and ratified by 27 States.  The Firearms Protocol has been signed by 52 and ratified by four States.

The Conference of the Parties to the Convention shall be convened by the UN Secretary-General, no later then one year following the entry into force of the Convention, with the purpose of reviewing its implementation.

In order to promote the ratification process, the UNODC is providing technical assistance to Member States.  In an effort to encourage the ratification of 15 United Nations instruments in the field of transnational organized crime, terrorism, illicit drugs, trafficking in persons, and human rights, a treaty event will be held at United Nations Headquarters from 23 to 26 September 2003, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 57/173.


The creation of an international instrument against transnational organized crime originated with the Naples Political Declaration and Global Action Plan against Organized Transnational Crime adopted by General Assembly resolution 49/159 in December 1994. In December 1996, Poland submitted to the General Assembly a draft text of the new instrument. Between February and September 1998, two meetings took place in Poland and Argentina in order to elaborate and review the preliminary draft. The negotiations of the Convention and its three Protocols - on trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and trafficking of firearms - took place in the Ad Hoc Committee for the Elaboration of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, established in December 1998 by General Assembly resolution 53/111. The Ad Hoc Committee finalized the Convention at its tenth session in July 2000. The Assembly adopted the Convention and two Protocols against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants on 15 November 2000, and the firearms Protocol on 31 May 2001. The completion of the negotiations of the Convention in less than two years reflected the recognition by the world community that this form of crime is growing in scale, scope and degree of sophistication, and showed its commitment to search for adequate international legal mechanisms for preventing and combating this problem. 

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For further information, see UNODC website: