Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    17 October 2016

    Remarks of the UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov:

    Strengthening criminal justice responses to the phenomenon of terrorists benefiting from links with transnational organized crime

    Side event at the Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, Vienna

    VIENNA, 17 October (UN Information Service) - Terrorists benefiting from crime, and from links with organized criminal networks, has become a growing concern for the international community.

    The linkages between terrorists and transnational organized crime groups appear to be opportunistic, context specific, and in many cases changing over time, and may involve coercion, taxation, cooperation or even direct engagement.

    There is evidence that the Taliban are providing drug traffickers in Afghanistan protection and unobstructed transit in territories where they have a strong presence.

    This represents a major source of funding, with the Taliban's earnings estimated at two hundred million dollars annually.

    In the Middle East, ISIL has profited from illegal trade in oil, trafficking in cultural property and kidnapping for ransom.

    There is increasing evidence of cross-commodity smuggling in North Africa and the Middle East, where drug traffickers have been arrested with weapons to be sold.

    In West Africa, routes for the illegal trafficking and smuggling of people, weapons, drugs, and tobacco, across the Sahel and Sahara to Europe, pass through areas currently controlled by terrorist groups, with smugglers and traffickers paying dues for right of passage.

    In Nigeria, Boko Haram has been involved in trafficking of drugs, people, and natural and mineral resources.

    In Somalia, it is estimated that al-Shabaab, over the past two years, has collected tens of millions of dollars from illicit charcoal exports.

    This intensifying nexus of transnational organized crime and terrorism has been repeatedly recognized by the United Nations, including by the Security Council, which has called on Member States to enhance cooperation to address links.

    In response, UNODC has stepped up legal and capacity building assistance.

    As part of CTITF [Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force] and as the UN Secretariat body entrusted with promoting implementation of the conventions on transnational organized crime, corruption and drugs, as well as the international instruments against terrorism and the UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice, UNODC is well placed to assist Member States.

    I am pleased that we have with us today the Executive Director of CTED [Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate], Jean-Paul Laborde.

    UNODC has benefitted from CTED's guidance on countries' technical assistance needs. We have successfully worked together on a number of joint projects to strengthen rights-based criminal justice responses to terrorism. We remain committed to further strengthening our mutually supportive working relationship to effectively assist Member States in developing their counter-terrorism capacities.

    Our support includes promoting international cooperation in criminal matters, in line with the UNTOC.

    In West Africa, UNODC promotes the Sahel Judicial Platform, the Network of West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors and the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for West Africa, as well as linkages with other regional judicial networks, including Eurojust.

    UNODC is assisting countries in the Middle East, as well as in North and West Africa, to identify, investigate and intercept illicit movements of goods through the Container Control Programme, the West African Coast Initiative, the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime initiative and the Airport Communication Programme.

    We are supporting national law enforcement agencies to collaborate on intelligence-based investigations.

    UNODC has been supporting several information sharing regional platforms, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council's Criminal Information Centre to Combat Drugs in Doha, Qatar, the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre in Almaty, Kazakhstan; and the Joint Planning Cell in Teheran, Iran.

    Our Networking the Networks initiative is also strengthening cooperation between regional and international law enforcement platforms.

    Another important area is countering the financing of terrorism and money laundering, where UNODC provides training on cross-border cooperation, asset freezing, mutual legal assistance, investigation, prosecution and adjudication.

    Training packages on terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking and corruption have been provided in Eastern Europe, the Gulf Cooperation Council region and West Africa.

    UNODC is supporting Member States to prevent and combat the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, and counter kidnapping and extortion.

    Furthermore, UNODC is working with our UN and other partners to address trafficking in cultural property and related offences.

    UNODC is also working with countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Balkan regions to address the problem of foreign terrorist fighters.

    The return of fighters who remain radicalized and retain both the intent and capability to conduct terrorist attacks represents an urgent challenge.

    We are also assisting countries with prison reform, including to counter violent extremism, in line with UN-wide strategies.

    This is a long list of activities, involving extensive support across regions, provided in our many mandate areas, through headquarters and UNODC's field offices.

    Looking ahead, more resources are needed to conduct research and analysis, to systematically examine the links between organized crime and terrorism in different regional contexts, and improve strategic understanding of the threats we face.  

    We must also further strengthen capabilities and networks, particularly in vulnerable regions where terrorists and criminals seek to exploit gaps in criminal justice responses.

    UNODC stands ready as ever to support you.

    My warm thanks to our distinguished participants, and I wish you a productive discussion.

    Thank you.

    * *** *

    For further information please contact:

    David Dadge
    Spokesperson, UNODC
    Phone: (+43 1) 26060-5629
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
    Email: david.dadge[at]