Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    12 April 2015

    UNODC Executive Director's opening remarks at 13 th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice [as delivered]

    Doha, 12 April 2015

    This year, we commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations, and the promise of a better world for all people that lies at the heart of our founding Charter.

    This year, the world has come together to define a transformative post-2015 development agenda that can foster progress and bring an end to poverty and inequality.

    Here in Doha, at the Thirteenth Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, we can contribute to this historic undertaking.

    We can work together to advance justice and uphold human dignity, and confront the criminals who undermine the rule of law and sustainable development, and who deny and deprive women, men and children of their hopes and opportunities.

    For sixty years, the Congresses have been at the forefront of shaping policies, setting standards and strengthening international cooperation in the areas of crime prevention and criminal justice.

    The Thirteenth Congress is well-placed to continue this tradition.

    As the Secretary-General has made clear, crime threatens peace and security, hinders development and violates human rights. 

    The Congress is an opportunity to take stock and agree robust responses to address crime, violence, corruption and terrorism, which represent some of the most pressing challenges of our time, as well as some of the biggest threats to sustainable development that we face.

    The Secretary-General's Synthesis Report, the report of the Open Working Group on sustainable development and numerous General Assembly resolutions have all underscored the importance of strengthening the rule of law at the national and international level, to secure justice for all and promote peaceful societies and sustainable development.

    Crime harms us all, in all parts of the world, whether we are talking about:

    ·     corruption;

    ·     cybercrime;

    ·     or violence;

    ·     countries of origin, transit or destination for trafficking victims and smuggled migrants;

    ·     producers and consumers of illicit drugs;

    ·     or supply and demand for illegal forest and wildlife products or cultural property. 

    But the impact of crime on the vulnerable and poor is worse still.

    Violent crime overall has decreased globally, but homicide levels in low and lower-middle income countries have increased by ten per cent over the past decade. In these countries, the homicide rate in 2013 was on average 2.5 times the rate registered in high-income countries.

    The share of citizens experiencing bribery at least once in a year is over fifty per cent in low-income countries.

    Many detected human trafficking flows are directed from poor areas to more affluent ones. While we cannot ignore the demand fuelling this scourge, we have often seen the push factors are related to poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.

    Research suggests weaker rule of law is associated with lower levels of economic development, impairing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

    For example, in 2013, about one-quarter of the world prison population was held in detention without a trial - a percentage rising to fifty per cent of the prison population in low and lower-middle income countries.

    The links are clear.

    We must do more to safeguard and sustain development through fair and effective crime prevention measures and criminal justice systems that enable police, prosecution, courts, and prisons function effectively, and respect human rights standards.

    We have the tools.

    Globally agreed frameworks, among them the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, the Convention against Corruption, the international drug control conventions and the universal legal instruments against terrorism, provide a solid foundation to address these challenges.

    Furthermore, with the considerable impetus of  the Congresses, the  international community has over the years agreed a substantial body of standards and norms covering a wide range of issues related to crime prevention and criminal justice, including the treatment of prisoners, justice for children and victims of crime and combating violence against women.

    The Thirteenth Congress offers a timely opportunity to further advance global action, and promote a holistic approach that integrates effective crime prevention and criminal justice measures into the wider UN agenda, including in work on human rights, gender equality and protection of children.

    The Doha declaration to be adopted at the Congress and its implementation can contribute to achieving the goals to be set out in the post-2015 development agenda.

    The Congress is an excellent opportunity to extend and enhance international cooperation to counter transnational organized crime, terrorism and illicit financial flows, and to ensure that our responses are fast, smart and able to cope with new threats. 

    This can help to disrupt the intensified nexus of organized crime and terrorism. This nefarious and opportunistic alliance, involving the illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, cultural property and natural resources, kidnapping for ransom, piracy and other crimes, is undermining fragile states and regions, and funding violent extremism. 

    Furthermore, the Congress can help to strengthen responses to the continuing and growing threat posed by cybercrime, which we can only effectively confront with enhanced international cooperation, technical assistance and capacity building.

    The Congress also gives us a chance to promote comprehensive and inclusive crime prevention policies and programmes that address root causes of crime and violence, and involve a range of actors, including civil society, with a particular emphasis on communities, families, children and youth at risk.

    The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, as ever, will support you in your endeavours throughout the challenging days ahead, and in Vienna next month at the Crime Commission, which will take forward the outcomes achieved here.

    Through quality research, technical assistance and capacity building; our integrated global, regional and country programmes and network of field offices; and together with our partners, UNODC stands ready to help translate the vision to be agreed in Doha into work on the ground that makes a difference for people everywhere.

    In closing, I would like to thank Member States for their active engagement, and welcome the many representatives of civil society taking part in meetings this week.

    Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Government of Qatar for the hard work and dedication in preparing this Congress, and for generously hosting us here in Doha.

    Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

    I wish you all a productive and successful meeting.

    Thank you.

    * *** *