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    17 May 2010

    UN Crime Prevention Commission Focuses on
    Trafficking in Cultural Property

    VIENNA, 17 May (UN Information Service) - The 19th session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, being held in Vienna from 17-21 May, will decide how to act on conclusions and recommendations made by of the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice which took place in April in Salvador, Brazil. One of those recommendations was to review all UN criminal justice standards and norms. "Make no mistake: this review is not house-keeping. It is about building security and development through the rule of law, to ensure people freedom from fear and freedom from want in the respect of human rights," said the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa. He urged states to "ensure that nations have the laws, knowledge and tools to deliver justice appropriate to the 21st century".

    Trends in world crime and emerging issues in crime prevention and criminal justice are also being discussed during the Crime Prevention Commission. To enrich global understanding of illicit flows, UNODC will soon publish the first ever transnational organized crime threat assessment.

    Mr. Costa called the current crime control system "inadequate to deal with new threats like crimes against the environment, individual identity or the internet, as well as with old threats like piracy, kidnapping and slavery". He called this failure "the cost of non-justice". He urged countries to upgrade legal instruments, improve knowledge, and develop operational tools to disrupt criminal markets. "While we dither about what to do about threats against the internet or the environment, organized crime is gaining economic and fire power greater than most of your countries," he warned.

    During this 19th Session, Member States will look at how to improve ratification and implementation of the international instruments to prevent and combat crime, including terrorism. Mr. Costa urged Member States to make more effective use of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime which was adopted at Palermo ten years ago (in 2000). "It is insincere on the part of Member States to speak loud about the threat of organized crime, and then fail to implement the Palermo Convention," he said. In particular, he urged states to finalize an implementation review mechanism. The Conference of Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime will take place in Vienna from 18 to 22 October.

    Stopping illicit trafficking in cultural property is the main theme of the Session. "In the past, invading armies plundered national treasures, now it is organized crime," said Mr. Costa. More generally, he called for greater vigilance in the inter-face between licit and black markets: "the laissez-faire system cannot work if the invisible hand of the market is manipulated by the bloody hand of organized crime".

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    For further information, please contact:

    Walter Kemp
    Spokesman and Speechwriter, UNODC
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629