Successful Fight against Drug Trafficking, Transnational Organized Crime Requires
Interlocking National, Regional, International Strategies, Third Committee Told
Debate on Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice, Drug Control Concludes
Success in the global fight against trafficking in drugs and humans, as well as the associated problems of transnational organized crime and money-laundering, required interlocking national, regional and international strategies rooted in global cooperation, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told today, as it wrapped up its discussion on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
Throughout the wide-ranging debate, many of the more than 40 speakers emphasized the benefits of a comprehensive approach to combating the threats posed by drug trafficking and organized crime. Peru’s representative said drug trafficking should clearly be fought in a synchronised manner on multiple fronts. Notwithstanding statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that pointed to declines in the global production of cocaine and heroin, anti-drug efforts should be intensified.
He said drug trafficking was not only unavoidably associated with violence and organized crime, it was, in several countries, linked to terrorist activities. It was also connected to other criminal activities, like money laundering, arms and human trafficking, and corruption. Against such a backdrop, he argued, as many other speakers had, that alternative development programmes should be a major pillar of the global effort to curb the drug trade.
Many speakers said that, to ensure their sustainability, such alternative development programmes should be adequately financed and sufficiently expansive in scope. To that end, they welcomed the Political Declaration and Plan of Action adopted at the fifty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and applauded its recognition of the need for cooperation between developed and developing countries.
The value of the development approach was clearly underlined by the representative of Afghanistan, who said the Government’s counter-narcotics efforts had had remarkable successes across the board in the past year. As a result of its efforts and those of its development partners, poppy cultivation in that country was down 22 per cent and opium production was down 18 per cent.
He said much of these achievements were the result of deliberate steps to strengthen both crop eradication efforts and the counter-narcotics infrastructure. Nevertheless, the Government planned to focus in the coming months on providing alternative replacement livelihoods to ensure that its progress towards a poppy-free environment was sustainable. It further recognized that a major part of its anti-drug strategy had to focus on improving the country’s security, since 98 per cent of ongoing poppy production occurred in the most insecure provinces.
Nearly all seven of the representatives taking the floor from African countries highlighted the growing dangers posed to that continent, as it was increasingly used a warehousing site and transit route for illicit drugs and pre-cursor chemicals.
The representative of Sierra Leone said a growing trend of cross-border criminal activities caused by porous borders, rogue States, weak immigrations laws, financial technology and an intricate and accessible global transportation infrastructure meant that non-State actors were directly challenging the security of several West African countries.
Nigeria’s representative highlighted the work of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) and called on the entire international community to intensify efforts in that direction. Specifically, the United Nations should make more resources available to the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders.
Speaking late in the afternoon, a representative of that Institute said it was encouraging that nearly a quarter of the countries in Africa had contributed to its functioning. Nevertheless, the institute’s board had found it necessary to call on the Secretary-General to increase funding to the Institute from the United Nations’ regular budget and he asked the Committee to consider recommending an increase to its “subsidy”, to help pay for the salaries of the main administrative officers.
Also speaking were representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Russian Federation, Qatar, Colombia, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Zambia (on behalf of Southern African Development Community), Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Jordan, Ethiopia Liechtenstein, Israel, Morocco, Ecuador, Ukraine, India, Serbia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Armenia, Yemen, Maldives, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh.
A representative of the permanent observer mission of the Holy See also spoke, as did a representative of the International Organization for Migration.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 12 October, to begin its discussion on the advancement of women.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general debate on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control (for further details please see Press Release GA/SHC/3947).
RAYMOND WOLFE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called for strengthening of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The problems associated with illicit drugs and crime were a major concern in the Caribbean, a geographical area that regrettably served as a bridge between the major producers and consumers of illicit drugs. The international drug trade was inextricably linked to the problem of crime, particularly transnational organized crimes. Security was so vital to the region that the heads of Caribbean Governments had recently established the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which added security as the fourth pillar of regional integration. A council of ministers responsible for national security and law enforcement and a regional task force on crime and security had been set up. With the UNODC, the Caribbean Community had the “CARICOM Social and Development Crime Prevention Action Plan 2009-2013”. Further, the Heads of State had adopted the “Santo Domingo Pact” in February, which provided for the establishment of a consultative mechanism and internet-based donor assistance database to provide real-time information.
Underlining the growing concern in the Caribbean with human trafficking, he said CARICOM had worked with the International Organization for Migration to develop regional guidelines to counter it. Several countries had enacted legislation on trafficking in persons, and continued cooperation at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels was ongoing. It was important that the efforts of Member States were recognized and that unilaterally determined standards and approaches were not used as the benchmarks by which progress at the national level was assessed.
He said the practice of criminal deportation had a destabilizing effect on the countries of the Caribbean. Indeed, the massive relocation of criminal offenders from developed to developing countries was a counter-security measure in a global world. Further, cybercrime was an emerging regional issue that required a multi-sectoral approach. Overall, cooperation with neighbouring States, as well as partnerships with external partners was needed to address transnational security threats.
DANIIL MOKIN (Russian Federation) said his country favoured setting up a United Nations anti-criminal strategy that would set out clear priorities on tackling international crime, as discussed in the Secretary-General’s report. That report touched on the need to tackle corruption, terrorism, human trafficking and trafficking in cultural items, and stealing personal data. His country was prepared to conduct substantive discussions of key issues linked to effective functioning of the convention on transnational organized crime, including a review of its processes. In terms of corruption at the national level, he said the Russian Federation had adopted federal laws against corruption, which spurred the creation of numerous acts, such as those covering corruption among public servants. Given the scale of the challenges faced by the international community, he believed in the value of creating space at the United Nations for international cooperation on the issue, and in bringing together different national procedures on law enforcement.
On drugs, he said the Russian Federation endorsed the views expressed by the representative of Kazakhstan yesterday on the importance of combating the drug trade emanating from Afghanistan. Solutions to the global Afghan drug threat could be found in the decisions of the United Nations-Moscow process and its related international conferences and events. The time had come to consider how to better implement the decisions of the United Nations-Moscow process, bearing in mind recent developments in Afghanistan and neighbouring states. It would be useful to convene a third ministerial conference in the coming months. His Government also favoured expanding efforts to implement the outcome of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly on drugs, which was a balanced text. Effective anti-drug conventions should be seen as a basis for forming national measures and facilitating international cooperation.
NASSER ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said transnational crime and terrorism undermined development plans, and multilateral cooperation to combat those phenomena should be strengthened as a matter of necessity. For its part, Qatar had spared no effort in developing its legislation on human rights in ways that corresponded to international law. That included Law 8, which created a national office against human trafficking. Qatar had also joined the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, and the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. He stressed that Arab capacities in that field were being strengthened, with UNODC. Recalling the General Assembly’s interactive dialogue on 13 May 2009, he said it was imperative to take action to combat human trafficking using a multilateral approach.
He stressed that corruption also weakened development prospects. Qatar had ratified the Convention against Corruption. It would also host the sixth session of the International Forum against Corruption from 7 to 8 November. The motto of that meeting was “Strength in Unity: Working Together against Corruption”, and it was hoped this event would receive broad participation, so that societies around the world could obtain a measure of protection against the threats posed by corruption.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) remarked on the links between illicit drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime, and pointed out that combating the world drug problem required addressing those crimes that generated violence and corruption. Colombia had fought drug trafficking for over three decades, having advanced a comprehensive strategy based on reducing both supply and demand. 2008 was the year with the most achievements, where 230,000 hectares of coca plants were eradicated, which lead to a decrease in cocaine production by about a quarter compared to 2007. The Government used aerial spraying and destroyed crops by hand. It also controlled the trade of chemical precursors and set up alternative development projects.
She said the Government was focused on acquiring 64,000 hectares of land for its Forest Ranger Families Programme, which involved locating rural communities, indigenous persons and persons of African-descent in “environmentally strategic eco-systems”. Colombia called on greater commitment by donor countries to alternative development projects, including by facilitating preferential market access for products from those initiatives. Only by attacking the scourge from all fronts, as Colombia had learned in the last three decades, could the criminal system be destabilized. Commitment to the principles of common and shared responsibility should be reflected in international action to prevent criminal networks from taking hold in drug and weapons trafficking, diversion of chemical precursors and money laundering. Colombia participated in various information exchanges throughout the world, including the one between security forces in Latin America and West Africa, seeking to eliminate cocaine trafficking from Latin America and the Caribbean to Europe via Africa.
HASAN ALI ( Sudan) said his office had reviewed all the relevant reports before the Committee and welcomed, in particular, the report on the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. That Institute needed further support from the international community to strengthen initiatives to combat the trade of illicit drugs and other transnational crimes on the continent. For its part, Sudan had made extensive efforts to combat transnational crime across its borders. Yet, it still suffered in some areas from the destabilizing effects of transnational crime. His Government welcomed the Declaration of Sharm-el-Sheik of the Non-Aligned Movement, which declared the Movement’s intention to adopt a plan against human trafficking.
He stressed that Sudan was also working with its neighbours to combat the drug trade and was further honoured to have been given the presidency of a recent meeting on transnational crime in the Horn of Africa. Sudan had signed a number of bilateral agreements with more than 21 Governments in the fields of training and security cooperation. Its national legislation was being adapted to international standards. It appreciated the efforts of he international community to eradicate transnational crime. However, reality showed that what had been achieved was less than what had been hoped for, and more action was needed. Without sufficient will, the UNODC strategies would remain merely good white papers. Further, approaches to combating the drug trade, trafficking in humans and transnational crime could not be implemented without regard to the circumstances of developing countries.
He went on to affirm that Sudan would cooperate with all those who sincerely sought to eliminate terrorism. But, the United Nations should unify the international community in that effort by reaching a definition of that international crime that could serve as the basis for an international framework.
JORGE VALERO Venezuela said the fourth largest drug seizure in the world took place in his country, which demonstrated its commitment to fighting the drug trade. As a neighbour of one of the largest cocaine producers in the world, Venezuela was used as a transit point for the transport of drugs to lucrative markets in the United States and Europe. Venezuela used various forms of technology to fight drugs, including by setting up radars to trace air flights and installing body scanners at airports. The Institute of Scientific Research, the National Drug Office and the National Guard had developed equipment to identify different types of drugs. That test cost only 9 cents, replacing narco tests that cost $7.50 and whose sale was suspended when Venezuela ended the interference of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in its internal affairs. Venezuela also had superior drug incinerators -- ecological ovens -- that could destroy 125 kilograms of drugs per hour.
He said, in 2009, state security bodies had destroyed 47 tonnes of different types of drugs transiting through Venezuela from Colombia. This year, 10 drug barons were extradited to the United States and Colombia, and 14 last year. Venezuela’s achievements were recognized by the United Nations, as reflected in its choice as host for the nineteenth World Anti-Drug Summit from 28 Sept to 2 October, where 77 countries and 9 international organizations were present. Participants talked of new drug trafficking routes, resulting in an important agreement between nations of Latin America and the Caribbean with the countries of West Africa to train officials in drug detection and provide technology for real-time communication in the course of fighting drugs. Consumer and producer countries should cooperate on the principle of shared responsibility. But, there was no need for the presence of foreign powers to fight drugs in Venezuela, since it had enough experience of its own.
CLAUDIA PEREZ ALVAREZ ( Cuba) said the global economic and financial crisis had created more favourable environments for criminality. Thus, to fight crime, it was necessary to first fight for a more just and equitable international economic order. No country could tackle terrorism, drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and the operations of money-laundering and arms smuggling alone. Thus, the restructuring of the current international order, along with increased international cooperation was needed. Cuba was totally willing to collaborate in every serious and coherent future effort to fight drug trafficking at regional and international levels. That fight must be based on the full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, as well as the understanding that the drug problem could not be solved by focusing on production locations or intermediary centres, but on the consumption points.
She stressed that the fight against these phenomena had no room for double standards. Indeed, it was absurd that certain powerful States applied laws promoting illegal and insecure migration, like the Cuban Adjustment Act, while also undertaking efforts to establish guidelines to prevent the trafficking in persons. It was also paradoxical that certain States declared themselves champions of the fight against terrorism, while offering impunity to notorious murders and terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles.
She said that, despite the serious damages caused by the United States Government’s blockade, Cuba had made countless achievements in terms of crime prevention, criminal justice and the fight against the world drug problem. National legislation prevented and severely punished money laundering, arms trafficking and the drug trade and other forms of organized crime. The cornerstone of its prevention efforts was the comprehensive education of Cuba’s children and youth. Cuba was also working to aid international efforts against transnational crime and the problem of drugs. In that regard, it had ratified its proposal on several occasions to initiate talks with the United States on cooperation in the fight against human and drug trafficking, and terrorism.
ABDELGHANI MERABET ( Algeria) noted that the annual revenue from the drug trade stood at $320 billion, and also remarked that drug use was responsible for 10 per cent of HIV infections worldwide, due to shared needle use. Drug use was also among the 20 main factors posing a grave risk to health. In stemming both the supply and demand of drugs, the international community should exercise a spirit of shared responsibility. There was a link between the economic situation of individual States and the cultivation of drug crops in those countries, indicating the importance of focusing on alternative development policies. More data should be collected on that issue, including cannabis cultivation, which was the most broadly used drug in the world. Algeria deplored the policy of tolerance in some developed countries in the use of cannabis, believing that it would stimulate illicit production in developing countries.
He said societies confronted by massive corruption and which suffered from weak legal systems provided the type of uncertainty on which drug operators thrived. To counter that trend, nations must create an international legal and institutional environment to clamp down on criminals, offer better witness protection and foster intelligence-sharing. At the most recent gathering of the United Nations on organized crime, heads of State and Government had called for additional finance to developing countries. The African Union, in February, adopted a decision to deal with the threat posed by drug trafficking in West Africa, which was a security concern. He asked that UNODC expand its cooperation with regional communities in Africa. Bearing in mind that the main responsibility to tackle the drug trade lay with individual states themselves, whether they be producing, transiting or consuming countries, Algeria had developed a progressive approach to the problem involving prevention, raising awareness, and drug treatment programmes, in addition to clamping down on drug traffickers. At the same time, the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime should receive more regional support. He praised UNODC for working on a tight budget funded mainly by voluntary donations, and expressed full support for that body.
ESHAGH ALHABIB ( Iran) said the illicit drug trade was one of the most daunting challenges facing the world community today. It posed major risks to the socio-economic and security situation of societies around the world. Despite various actions by different States and international organizations to combat the illicit cultivation, production, consumption and trafficking of drugs, there was neither satisfactory nor promising prospects for an immediate solution to the problem. The decline in Afghanistan’s opiate production in 2008 was due largely to drought, not the presence of Western coalition forces, which had actually accelerated further cultivation of opiates by Afghan military groups and warlords.
Iran had backed up her firm position in curtailing illegal narcotics transit from Afghanistan by sacrificing thousands of Iranian police personnel and allocating billions of dollars. Its approach had mobilized 30,000 troops along its borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and massive volumes of various types of narcotics had been confiscated. Iran was also collaborating with its neighbours and the “Balkan route” countries. It had extended cooperation with the Economic Cooperation Organization members and helped establish a Drug Combating Unit. Moreover, it was regularly convening meetings and information exchanges with the cooperation of UNODC and had engaged in the first-ever joint pilot operation between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan against drug-trafficking networks. Concluding, he urged the international community to pay more attention to the drug trade issue -- particularly the drug trade emanating from Afghanistan. Iran had shouldered a great burden in that respect, while receiving low amounts of assistance from the global community.
WEE CHOO KEONG, Member of Parliament of Malaysia, stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation, adding that countries needed to share information and also intelligence on a reciprocal basis. To facilitate that, legal mechanisms such as conventions, treaties, regional arrangements or bilateral memorandums of understanding might be required. Malaysia was party to the Transnational Crime Convention and its protocol to suppress human trafficking. The issue of human trafficking was multifaceted; unfortunately, the intense focus on criminal justice tended to limit any in-depth discussions on the socio-economic aspects that led to the risk of being trafficked.
While steps had been taken at the last session of the Assembly to begin the informal consultations process among States on a possible global plan of action, lack of time prevented significant movement on the issue, he said. He questioned whether there were enough resources to ensure the success of existing frameworks and institutions, let alone a global plan of action. Also, given the lack of coordination among non-state actors, how would a global plan of action change the level of coordination between states and those non-state actors without introducing a top-down approach? And how would regional initiatives help, given that the causes of the problem varied from region to region?
On piracy, he looked forward to UNODC’s interest in the issue and looked forward to learning from that agency’s expertise, including on legal matters. On drugs, he said Malaysia looked forward to the adoption of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation by the General Assembly this session. It was concerned by the increase in consumption of synthetic drugs, especially among younger people. Because a majority of HIV/AIDS infection in Malaysia was attributed to injection drug use, Malaysia had developed a harm reduction initiative, consisting of drug substitution therapy and a needle exchange programme. In 2008, the needle and syringe exchange programme was scaled up with the participation of Government health clinics, in addition to drop-in centres managed by community-based organizations.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBEW (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that the States of southern Africa strongly supported the activities of UNODC, particularly in the development of global legal instruments and the provision of technical cooperation to developing countries. SADC had established a number of institutions and organization whose effective functioning was vital to the fight against crime and drugs in the region. Yet, it was wary of the severe impact the current global economic, financial and energy crisis were having on developing nations, since poverty and destitution had created a hotbed for crime. Nevertheless, SADC had made significant progress in the fight against crime, money-laundering, arms smuggling and illicit drug trafficking.
He said SADC had adopted and signed a protocol against corruption. Indeed, corruption constituted a major challenge to economic progress, governance and development, and the protocol provided the basis to ensure the effectiveness of measures taken against corruption in both the public and private sectors. Assistance from SADC’s development partners was welcome in bolstering the implementation of the Protocol. He also expressed support for the United Nations Global Action Plan against trafficking in persons, noting that SADC Ministers had developed a 10-year Strategic Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Persons.
Turning to the issue of illicit drugs, he welcomed the Political Declaration and Plan of Action adopted at the fifty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The three international drug control conventions provided an important international legal framework for cooperation. It was critical that strategies be developed to reduce supply and demand, as a means of supporting development, health, education, and respect for human rights. Further, all Member States should strengthen efforts to reduce the health and social consequences of drug abuse. At the regional level, SADC was working in conjunction with Interpol to conduct joint drug control operations. It was also holding multilateral and bilateral meetings to develop coordinated responses and strategies aimed at the drug scourge.
He further stressed SADC’s commitment to implementing strategies aimed at reducing the supply and demand of drugs within the region. Because young people were more affected than any other age group, educational programmes had been devised to raise awareness among students. Also, joint border intelligence surveillance was conducted to reduce cross-border trafficking. Notwithstanding these efforts, it was clear that crime prevention and criminal justice systems needed upgrading. Technical assistance was needed, and he urged the international community to continue to support UNODC, so that it could continue to aid SADC in those efforts.
KOH BOON PIAU ( Singapore) told a story of a drug abuser who was also a drug mule. He was emotionally and physically abusive, and spent some time in jail for drug use. After release from jail and time in rehabilitation, he experienced a relapse. He tried to persuade his wife to become a drug runner and had beaten her when she refused, landing her in the hospital. She finally turned him in. Millions of stories like that were being repeated around the world. According to the World Drug Report 2009, there could be as many as 38 million chronic drug users, and use of amphetamine-type drugs among young people was rising alarmingly. To ensure the situation in Singapore remained under control, it had adopted strict laws, vigorous enforcement, preventive education, rehabilitation and aftercare, as well as community involvement. Eleven international drug trafficking syndicates had been broken up so far in 2009, and there had been a fall in drug abuse cases by 13 per cent in the first half of the year. Singapore worked with like-minded countries in the region to combat the transnational reach of those syndicates and to share best practices on facing the challenge of drug abuse.
He said corporate partners, such as media agencies, also lent their voice against drugs by volunteering their services in conceptualizing and developing annual anti-drug campaigns. In terms of rehabilitation and aftercare, Singapore treated first- and second-time offenders differently from third and subsequent offenders. The first group were sent for treatment and did not incur a criminal record. The latter were subjected to a strict penal regime. Attention and resources were also focused on reintegrating former addicts into society, and providing support for families of addicts. A substantial part of the support in pre-release and aftercare phases were provided by community partners, such as helping ex-addicts secure employment or obtain counselling. Abusers learned life skills at community half-way houses, and programmes were in place to help families and the community with reintegration.
ASEIL ALSHAHAIL(Saudi Arabia) expressed full support for the work of UNODC and reaffirmed support for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Saudi Arabia was cooperating with various international organizations in that respect. Domestically, the Government was working to establish further regulations in its legal and judicial realms, including those surrounding due process procedures for the arrest and temporary and provisional detention of alleged criminals. In that, it was working to effectively uphold sharia law.
She said a plan for the judiciary for the next 20 years had been set up. That project, which aimed to develop and institute judicial facilities in all fields, was also tasked with creating future visions on 5- and 10-year timelines that would bolster justice mechanisms and enhance the overall justice environment. She further noted that, in February 2009, Saudi experts participated in a study on combating terrorism, transnational crime, the cloning of humans and the rights of children, among other problems. The Ministry of Justice had established a penal chamber to review state security and those involved with Al-Qaida. It would become a separate and independent court that would have an independent president. The improvement of justice systems was an international responsibility.
She emphasized Saudi Arabia’s status as a party to the international conventions on trafficking in persons and migrants’ rights. It was keen on training and research to help reduce crime. It was also developing pilot surveillance systems and would continue to build bridges with the international community to fight transnational crime, human trafficking and the illicit drug trade.
WARIF HALABI ( Syria) said her country was party to several United Nations instruments, most recently ratifying the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols on the suppression of trafficking and on migrants. It had concluded several bilateral and multilateral extradition agreements. Syria was a transit country, and was doing its utmost to combat human trafficking passing through its borders. At the moment, the Government was working with Germany and France, as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Organization on Migration (IOM) to assist illegal migrants. In Damascus, it was setting up shelters, some in collaboration with the European Commission and IOM.
She added that Syria was working to reduce demand of drugs and had acceded to all accords related to combating drugs. It was working with Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, Jordan and others to exchange information on drug trafficking. Syria would deploy all efforts to support that cause and would welcome any form of cooperation on the issue. The Government worked closely with UNODC, welcoming that office’s efforts in the Middle East and North Africa for providing assistance to those regions in their battle against drugs. She called for UNODC to be strengthened. She suggested that States draft an international work plan to combat human trafficking, which should look at the root causes of that activity. Those responsible should be prosecuted. Sincere political resolve was needed to push for the prosecution of serious criminals and to bring an end to the dangers they posed.
MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) said her country had developed both domestic legislation and national strategy plans to combat the drug trade, which represented a challenge to the security, as well as the political, economic and social development of the people of Latin America. A well-balanced approach was needed and, to that end, the subregion had a strategy and plan of action for Latin America and Mexico. Nevertheless, there was a need for resources above and beyond the national budgetary outlays and the international community should mobilize those resources. Stressing that transnational crime and the drug trade needed a coordinated response from the world community in an established legal framework, she denounced the intention of some Member States to resort to non-peaceful means, such as the establishment of military bases, to combat the drug trade.
She underlined the global consensus that the trafficking of persons represented one of the modern world’s worst crimes and said further consensus should be found to stop it. On that front, Nicaragua supported a global plan of action that would coordinate efforts, promote international cooperation and establish specific plans with indicators to measure progress. Not only should it be based on a human rights approach that addressed the situation of the victims, the plan should also tackle the problem’s roots. In Nicaragua, a legal framework had been elaborated that defined the crime. It was working on a preliminary draft law that would strengthen the investigation and prosecution of organized crime and human trafficking. It had also undertaken the region’s first-ever geographic mapping of these crimes.
Concluding, she noted that, while it was neither a producer nor consumer country, Nicaragua was obliged as a transit country to divert limited resources to combat international problems. There was a lack of consistency, however, between the value of what it seized going to the North and the financial support it received in making those seizures. That imbalance should be remedied.
PABLO SOLON ( Bolivia) said his country was committed to eradicating the problem of drugs, drug trafficking and organized crime. At the nineteenth summit of heads of national bodies to combat illicit drugs in Latin America and the Carribbean, participants commended his country on its efforts on that front, including its elimination of surplus coca crops. The UNODC’s June report also praised his country for the increase in seizures of cocaine-based paste and the dismantling of laboratories. In 2008, the number of people in the country’s anti-drug force had increased to over 10,000 workers, from 6,800 in 2005. The amount of cocaine seized rose from 11.4 tonnes in 2005 to 28.8 tonnes in 2008. There were similar increases in the amount of precursor chemicals and number of drug-making equipment, such as maceration wells, that were seized. The Government of Bolivia denounced the fact that the United States had suspended Bolivia from the system of customs preferences, explaining that his country had been de-certified, which he said was a form of political blackmail and punishment.
He invited States to see for themselves what was going on in his country. Within the framework of the Union of South American Nations, Bolivia had signed bilateral agreements with Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Through those initiatives, it had dismantled laboratories for cocaine crystallization. The state of Bolivia had developed a strategy to work with coca leaf producers, resulting in a reduction of those crops by 5,000 hectares per year, without the use of violence or violating human rights, as had occurred in the past. Cultivation of coca leaf in Bolivia stood at 18 per cent of world production, representing 13 per cent of the world’s cocaine. The study on the coca leaf, once completed, would shed light on the amount being used for traditional purposes. There was no need to criminalize the chewing of the coca leaf for cultural reasons, which was an age-old practice of the Andean people, dating back to 3000 B.C. Chewing coca leaves in their natural state caused no harm or addiction.
SAMAR AL-ZIBDEH (Jordan) stressed the danger of transnational organized crime and the need for all States to tackle this phenomenon. Criminals should be prosecuted appropriately. The drug trade was a gross violation of human rights and hampered efforts to promote the social development of countries. Meanwhile, trafficking was worth billions of dollars a year. Jordan was a State party to a number of international conventions banning human trafficking and had also acceded to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Domestically, other laws had been adopted to shore up the work of the country’s judicial system. A draft law on forced labour had been signed and the Ministry of Justice was working with a number of organizations in that area. A programme had been adopted to combat human trafficking and forced labour.
Turning to regional and international efforts to deal with the problems of organized crime, the illicit drug trade and trafficking in persons, she said information exchange was needed to combat organized transnational crime. Demand should also be reduced. Youth protection programmes should be strengthened and other preventive measures taken. She noted that Jordan had drafted a law on drugs and psychotropic substances, and a national programme was being created in that area. It participated in all regional and Arab activities. It was also treating addicts as part of its national health policy and hoped it could be considered at the forefront of that area of work.
She noted that Jordan had itself suffered from terrorism and was cooperating the UNODC in that area. It was also updating its laws on terrorism. It remained concerned with the detrimental effects of corruption and continued to work within various bodies to curb that practice. Its own domestic laws regarding corruption had been amended.
ATSEDE KIDANU ( Ethiopia) stressed the importance of collective international action in combating drugs, and said Ethiopia was exerting every effort to tackle the problem through its national drug policy and by instituting severe penalties against drug traffickers and abusers. With technical assistance from UNODC, it developed a national drug control master plan for 2009-2013. Drug control involved many sectors, requiring close collaboration and firm commitment between different government agencies. The Government had found it necessary to set up a national inter-ministerial coordinating committee, for which the terms of reference were currently being developed. UNODC was helping relevant Government bodies to bolster their capacity in various drug control activities. Ongoing close collaboration with UNODC and other partners would help strengthen the capacity of law-enforcement agencies. But, Ethiopia had even greater objectives, and would do better with continued support from those partners.
GEORG SPARBER ( Liechtenstein) said his country traditionally co-sponsored the resolution on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, specifically its technical cooperation capacity. His Government was aware of the need for capacity-building in the field of legal assistance and supported UNODC with financial contributions, sponsoring secondments and providing expertise at training seminars. It was one of the main donors to the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR), which provided targeted capacity-building to officials from developing countries and equipping them with information technology.
He said Liechtenstein’s recent revisions of its anti-terrorism legislation had entered into force in March, and included a due diligence act, among other amendments to the criminal code. They provided for “substantive implementation” of the latest international standards in the fight against money laundering and combating terrorist financing. His Government recognized the primary role of the United Nations as the only global forum to intensify international cooperation against terrorism and to promote the comprehensive implementation of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy. It has ratified and implemented all sixteen United Nations anti-terrorism conventions and protocols. It hoped to conclude the ratification process for the convention against corruption some time in 2009. As a party to the Palermo Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, his Government hoped that the upcoming anniversary would be used as an opportunity to intensify United Nations’ operations against organized crime.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) condemned the terrorist attack outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which had been an obvious attack on civilians, and extended his Government’s heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. Despite the challenges faced in his country, its counter-narcotics department had seen remarkable successes across the board in the past year. As a result of its sincere efforts, poppy cultivation was down 22 per cent and opium production was down 18 per cent. The most remarkable decrease was seen in Helmand Province, where a 33 per cent drop in poppy cultivation was seen over last year. To solidify progress, an additional 40,000 hectares of poppy fields would be destroyed this year. Nevertheless, the Government believed the focus in coming months should be on providing alternative replacement livelihoods to make the progress towards a poppy-free environment sustainable.
He said the Afghan Government had strengthened its counter-narcotics infrastructure and improved governmental coordination under the National Drug Control Strategy. The parliament had just passed a strengthened anti-drug enforcement bill and the Ministry of Justice had created a special court to try counter-narcotics cases. The Ministry of the Interior had created a dedicated police force for counter-narcotics efforts. Still, collective efforts should still be focused on capacity-building and strengthening the rule of law.
He said Afghanistan had also made huge strides towards improved cooperation with neighbouring countries. It was working with Iran and Pakistan in joint-operations along the borders of all three countries. Within the framework of UNODC’s Operation TARCET II, it was working closely with regional governments to hold joint training sessions for border control agents and counter-narcotics police. To build on these developments, the international community, the Government of Afghanistan and its regional neighbours should continue to bolster cooperation in line with the Paris Pact, the “Rainbow Strategy” and other agreements with a particular focus on preventing the illegal transport of precursor chemicals into the country.
He went on to say that Afghanistan had improved coordination and cooperation with the international community. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had agreed to increase assistance to the Government’s counter-narcotics efforts, and earlier in the year a joint Afghan-NATO military operation had destroyed more than 90 tons of chemical precursors, 459 tons of poppy seeds, 51 tons of opium, as well as 44 illicit laboratories. It had also fully supported the United States decision to shift the counter-narcotics focus from crop eradication to the provision of alternative livelihoods. It would continue to work closely with UNODC to address all issues relating to drugs.
Finally, he said comprehensive global strategies were still needed to address the drug problem from production to consumption. Profits from the illegal narcotics trade continued to fuel the activities of terrorist and criminals around the world, creating a strong correlation between insecurity and drug production. In Afghanistan, 98 per cent of poppy production occurred in the most insecure provinces. Thus, a major part of the anti-drug strategy had to focus on improving the country’s security. Doing everything possible to curtail the production and consumption of these harmful substances was the world community’s joint duty.
SANDRA SIMOVICH ( Israel) said the trafficking of drugs and related criminal activities such as trafficking in arms and humans, transcended politics, cultures and borders. The fight against it must be an international one. Disputes and differences must not be allowed to interfere with the joint efforts of all countries in a region. For its part, Israel worked relentlessly on strengthening regional cooperation and promoting shared information, such as with the European Union through its European Neighbourhood Policy tool. Several successful study visits were organized between Israel and its neighbours from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt. Israeli representatives had recently participated in the regional law enforcement project LexPro. He commended UNODC for its efforts to facilitate joint projects in the region.
She said Israel had developed a method for detecting cannabis fields through remote sensing. It had added 32 new substances into its dangerous drugs ordinance, which was unprecedented, since it included substances that had not yet been detected in Israel. And while their dangerous nature had not yet been proven, it was possible to predict it based on their chemical structure. Also, Israel recently established a pharmaceutical crime unit, whose main role was to fight counterfeit drugs. That unit monitored the sale of psychoactive substances sold in convenience stores to identify the sale of substances for illicit purposes. Israel would hold a conference on that subject in 2010. Drug treatment programmes in Israel provided unique solutions for mothers with children, immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia, as well as Arabic-speaking addicts. Prevention programmes were culture, gender and age-sensitive and were part of the life skills training provided to students in grades 2 through 12, and included campaigns on alcohol- and drug-free parties. Terrorists and drug traffickers often used the same methods and, for that reason, the fight against both types of traffickers should be firm, sophisticated and based on strong international cooperation.
EDGARD PEREZ ALVAN ( Peru) said that, despite the statistics from UNODC showing decreases in the global production of cocaine and heroin, efforts to fight the drug scourge should be intensified. Drug trafficking was unavoidably associated with violence and organized crime and was, in several countries, linked to terrorist activities. It was also connected to other criminal activities like money laundering, arms and human trafficking, and corruption. Preventive actions, and possibly sanctions, were needed. Nor should the negative impact of drug trafficking on the environment be overlooked. Indeed, the illicit production of coca was estimated to have caused the deforestation of 2.5 million hectares of Amazon rainforest.
Drug trafficking should clearly be fought in a synchronised manner on multiple fronts, he said. In that regard, he emphasized tailored legislative measures, sanctions against offenders, interdiction and eradication of illicit crops in tandem with preventive measures and the use of alternative development programmes. Special attention should be given to poor and marginal groups, particularly young people, who were more vulnerable to drugs and crime.
He said it was imperative that investments be made in ways that ensured the sustainability of alternative development programmes. Indeed, adequate financing was essential in the fight against the drug problem. To that end, the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action recognized the need for cooperation between developed and developing countries. Peru was largely concerned that support for its anti-drug efforts diminished, in general terms, since 2002. UNODC also needed the voluntary financial support from donor countries. Moreover, Peru required additional help in terms of the exchange of information that would better allow it to work with international organizations and other concerned States, as well as producers, consumers and transit countries.
HASSAN EL MKHANTAR ( Morocco), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Palermo Convention was aimed at making it possible to tackle organized crime from the penal angle. Morocco’s revised penal code was now aligned with the Convention. In addition, it had created a national drug commission. In the north, the Government was working to foster economic development as an alternative to cannabis farming. The Ministry of Tourism was striving to develop the concept of rural tourism in that region. In view of the importance of regional assistance and international cooperation in battling the drug scourge, he expressed hope that UNODC could continue its role as a catalyst for such activities.
He said Morocco had hosted the first ministerial meeting of African countries on regional cooperative mechanisms in matters of security and combating drugs. It had also mobilized resources to combat irregular immigration and human trafficking. The results were a “lowering of clandestine influxes into Morocco”. Moroccan authorities had also established a renewed national strategy on migration, through which migration was looked at within the broader concept of crime and trafficking. In July, the Government convened an African ministerial meeting to examine ways to contain that phenomenon. He welcomed UNODC’s programme to support North African and West African countries in their fight against trafficking, but noted that those plans could not be implemented without help from donor partners.
SANTIAGO CHIRIBOGA ( Ecuador) reiterated his country’s support for all actions taken to fight the drug trade within existing human rights norms and in deference to the principles of national security. To comply with its commitments, Ecuador had spared no effort in implementing all international instruments in that area and its success in implementing its “contain and control” project had been cited by UNODC as especially successful. Those impressive results had been attributed to the Government’s commitment. Coca cultivation had been unsuccessful in the face of legal prohibition, controls established in the country’s various risk zones by the military and the police, and alternative development programmes. Stressing that Ecuador was neither a producer of drugs, nor a money-laundering centre, he called on the international community to apply the shared, but differentiated responsibility and to recognize the efforts of developing countries like his.
OLHA KAVERN ( Ukraine), aligning herself with the European Union, said she welcomed the high priority given to promoting the universal ratification of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols. Mechanisms like the Conference of Parties to the Convention and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice played a key role in strengthening international cooperation. The proposal to establish an open-ended standing working group on improving the governance and financial situation of UNODC was welcomed by Ukraine. It also supported the establishment of an open-ended intergovernmental review mechanism to upgrade national activities for further ratification and implementation of the Convention against Corruption. It looked forward to the adoption in Doha in November of effective decisions on prevention, review, asset recovery and technical assistance by the Third Conference of Parties. The Government had recently established the post of government commissioner for anti-corruption policy.
She listed human trafficking as another issue of concern, as well as the illegal drug trade. On the latter, she expressed hope that the approval and implementation of measures outlined in the political declaration and plan of action adopted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs would contribute to improving the effectiveness of international cooperation mechanisms. Ukraine also stressed the need for close cooperation between the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), UNODC, the World Health Organization, UNDP and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on health-related drug policies. Attention should also be devoted to efficient modes of collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination. Finally, she drew attention to almost 700,000 Ukrainian citizens employed on ships under foreign flags. Piracy was a dangerous phenomenon and Ukraine was among the co-sponsors of the International Maritime Organization resolution on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the waters off the coast of Somalia.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said terrorism undermined peace, democracy and freedom. India had been a victim of terrorism for decades. The barbaric attack on people in Mumbai in November 2008 was a reminder of the daily menace that terrorism posed to all countries. India’s diplomatic missions were also being targeted. In July 2008, the Embassy of India in Kabul was subject to attack, leading to the loss of numerous lives. It was imperative that the world’s resolve against the perpetrators of such attacks be manifested in a strong and resolute manner. The international community’s unequivocal condemnation of terrorism should be accompanied by a strengthened legal framework in the fight against terror. The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism had been under negotiation for years; it was time to conclude those negotiations and to adopt it.
He expressed profound concern over the deep-rooted nexus between drug mafias, arms dealers and money launderers for financing terrorism. It was a grave, dangerous and destructive nexus, requiring that bilateral, regional and international cooperation be reinforced in combating it. Perhaps it was time to build on the gains mentioned in the 2009 World Drug Report to strengthen efforts to tackle that menace. The Secretary-General’s report on international cooperation in the fight against drugs had talked of alternative development programmes to reduce drug supplies. Unfortunately, there had been not substantial support for those activities in the affected regions. He called for more technical assistance. India was the world’s largest producer of licit opium, but production of opiates was controlled and used only for medicinal purposes. In that context, it welcomed the International Narcotics Control Board’s (INCB) contribution in monitoring the balance between demand and supply of opiates for legitimate purposes.
MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia) aligning her country with the remarks made on behalf of the European Union, said that earlier this year the Government had adopted a national strategy against organized crime, a national strategy against drugs for the period 2009-2013 and a national strategy against illegal migration for the period 2009-2014. It was also working to develop various forms of cooperation with the countries of the region and relevant international agreements to effectively address these types of crime. In September, a cooperation protocol had been signed with the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) regarding the exchange of information on drugs, weapons and human trafficking and on organized crime and terrorism. That agreement confirmed Serbia’s readiness to cooperate with international missions, established in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), on fighting various and widespread forms of organized crime in the province of Kosovo.
She said Serbia was also participating in a joint programme in the area of human trafficking in conjunction with UNODC, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration. That programme represented the first integrated and comprehensive framework in combating human trafficking in Serbia that followed the “3 p’s”: prevention, prosecution and protection. On the specific issue of trafficking in persons for the purposes of harvesting human organs, she said Serbia continued to be committed to full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur dispatched by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to Serbia and Albania to investigate allegations of such crimes. Bearing in mind the seriousness of those allegations, Serbia firmly believed that the other country covered by the investigation should also establish full cooperation with the Special Rapporteur. Serbia also expected the Special Rapporteur to take further steps in investigating that case.
CAMILLO M. GONSALVES (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), aligning himself with the statement made by CARICOM, said that, because of challenges from various banana interests, as well as countries that did not grown any bananas, such as the United States, his country was fast losing its preferential access to the United Kingdom market. The resulting unemployment and heightened rural poverty had led to an increase in marijuana cultivation. A recent raid uncovered over 700,000 plants and three million seedlings, making the country one of the Caribbean’s major marijuana producers. Drug production was orchestrated by heavily armed drug barons and gangs; this was not the business of noble rural farmers eking out a living. Murder rates were high in the Caribbean than any other region, only rising in recent years. In addition, about 20 per cent of the cocaine and increasing amounts of synthetic drugs destined for North America and other developed markets were thought to travel through the region.
He said the 32 islands in the St. Vincent and Grenadines archipelago were patrolled by “a mere handful” of coast guard vessels. Its justice system was crowded with drug-related crimes and criminals. The UNODC had estimated that Haiti and Jamaica could double their annual economic income if they could bring their crime rates down to Costa Rica’s level, which indicated that the drug trade was a very real threat to the region’s growth. His Government welcomed calls for increased technical and financial assistance. At the same time, international trading regimes should acknowledge and address the interconnectedness of the world drug problem with other global issues, as it carved out exceptions and export preferences. The Government was alarmed and dismayed at the closure of UNODC’s Caribbean field office, which was considered nothing less than an abandonment of the Caribbean region. Inasmuch as the recommendation that Member States “support the reconfiguration of the network of field offices of the UNODC,” was a euphemism for the closure of the Caribbean office, his country rejected that recommendation.
AHMADU GIADE ( Nigeria) reaffirmed Nigeria’s cooperation in the global fight against organized crime in general and illicit drug trafficking in particular. It would continue to work closely to this end with regional bodies like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). With West Africa fast becoming a transit point and warehouse for the illicit trade in drugs, Nigeria was particularly concerned at the negative impact of that trade on national health, security and development. ECOWAS was seized with measures to reverse this trend, as evidenced in its adoption of the West African Action Plan on Drugs (WAAPD). The Security Council, the European Union and various United Nations bodies had already declared their support for this plan, and he called on the entire international community to intensify efforts in that direction.
He said Nigeria was determined to fight criminal activity and to prevent its territory from being used as a source, transit point or destination for narcotic drugs. The mandate for that effort fell on Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, which had adopted a “dual control” approach: controlling drug supply and drug demand. Over the past year, remarkable progress had been recorded in those efforts. Drug offenders had been successfully prosecuted and substantial efforts were being made to uncover their foreign collaborators. Nevertheless, Nigeria still faced challenges. The Government was committed to overcoming them and was working to strengthen ties with its development partners and the international community, especially UNODC. Its work with regional groups would also continue. Further, a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with the United Kingdom and bilateral relations with South Africa and China had been strengthened. Nigeria urged the General Assembly to make more resources available to the African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders.
KHALIFA ALMAZROOEI ( United Arab Emirates) said the Third Committee was an important forum for putting forward solutions on criminal justice issues and crime prevention. There was a need for international cooperation to tackle international organized crimes, trafficking in persons, money laundering, drug trafficking and related crimes. His country was engaged in bilateral partnerships to that end, and had ratified the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its optional protocol on trafficking in persons. It had contributed $15 million to funding for the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN-GIFT). The UAE’s national strategy to combat trafficking rested on four pillars: criminalization, law enforcement, assistance to victims, and international cooperation. It had established a national commission, which ensured protection for victims, among other things. At the international level, it had concluded bilateral agreements with supportive countries.
He said the United Arab Emirates cooperated with other members of the international community to combat money laundering through various measures at the national, regional and international levels. It had a commission to fight money laundering, and had established a system of intermediaries for money transfers to limit money laundering and terrorism financing activities. To fight trafficking in drugs, it had concluded a memorandum of understanding with 20 countries and was trying to conclude more such memorandums with other States. Given its position near drug producing countries, the United Arab Emirates was being used as a transit State. As a result, it had stiffened its sentences for trafficking, and was lending its support to the political declaration adopted at the last narcotic commission meeting. It had a national plan to reduce demand through awareness-raising among users, whose number had declined considerably. It had also set up treatment centres to reintegrate drug addicts into society. The United Arab Emirates was currently playing an important role on the drugs issue within the Economic and Social Council.
SANSANEE SAHUSSARUNGSI ( Thailand) noted that globalization had made possible new forms and methods of organized crime, which was a compelling reason for nations to come up with common standards and norms on law enforcement and the treatment of offenders. Thailand believed in addressing the root causes of issues, for example, by paying attention to the most underprivileged and vulnerable groups in society. Lack of economic opportunity often bred crime. In such an environment, prospects for human development, the rule of law, and respect for human rights were often compromised. The princess of Thailand was awarded a medal of recognition by UNODC for her advocacy in improving the situation of women and children in prison. It was the country’s hope that women prisoners would become productive members of society when released. Thailand was making every effort, as well, to uplift the status of women in prisons worldwide and was preparing to host an intergovernmental experts group meeting to advance the drafting process of rules on the treatment of women prisoners.
In the area of drugs, she said Thailand had been promoting alternative development projects, and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation had been working bilaterally for some time to replicate the success of Thai-style alternative development in places like Indonesia and Afghanistan. The main objective was to transform poor and vulnerable communities from socio-economic dependency and subsistence living to a life of self-reliance through greater participation. Through several decades of work, it had developed a set of best practices on sustainable alternative livelihood development that could be useful for other countries. The United Nations could play an important role in convincing developed countries to open their markets for alternative development products. Thailand was of the view that drug addicts were victims, not criminals. Persons infected with HIV as a result of drug abuse were covered by national health care schemes.
GAREN NAZARIAN (Armenia), aligning his statement with those made on behalf of the European Union and the States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said the fight against illegal drug trafficking was high on his country’s agenda. It paid particular attention to enhancing regional and international cooperation in that regard. It was a signatory to the three main international drug control agreements and had ratified the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, incorporating the provisions into its national legislation. Currently, a national programme on combating drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking was also being elaborated.
He said that, in today’s globalised world, success in the fight against drugs was only possible through enhanced international cooperation and, to that end, Armenia had been cooperating closely with its partners. Under joint activities with the United States Government, it had established an independent forensic laboratory and improved the law enforcement infrastructure, including with a computer network that would enable different law enforcement offices access to common databases. The United States had also lent support to bolstering Armenia’s border control services. The Armenian Government was also working with the South Caucasus Anti-Drug programme, which encouraged the Governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to adopt European Union best practices in legal assistance, drug epidemiology, drug use prevention, treatment of drug addicts and regional law-enforcement. The programme covered supply and demand reduction aspects, and had facilitated the implementation of drug-related components of the Action Plans of the European Neighbourhood Policy.
WAHEED AL-SHAMI ( Yemen) said his country had acceded to a number of relevant conventions, including the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and was in the process of depositing its instrument of ratification with the United Nations. Yemen was among the first to sign the Convention against Corruption. It had had an anti-corruption law since 2006, while a national agency to combat corruption was preparing a national anti-corruption strategy. Such a strategy involved setting up a law on financial disclosure, activating control bodies and raising awareness about the dangers of corruption.
Regarding the world drug problem, he said Yemen had also acceded to the United Nations anti-drug convention and had established an organ within the Ministry of Interior to oversee that area, on land, sea and air. That body had organized country visits in other Arab states, resulting in numerous protocols and memorandums of cooperation. A number of attempts to smuggle drugs into Yemen had been stymied. In addition, Yemen had criminalized all forms of such human trafficking and was raising awareness among the public about the phenomenon. The most effective methods to combat that phenomenon lay in tackling its root causes: poverty, unemployment and wars. Also, strong punishments should be imposed on the perpetrators. Partnerships at the international level must be reinforced. There should be full and effective implementation of all legal documents and nations should begin considering the formation of an international plan.
VICTORIA SULIMANI ( Sierra Leone) said collective efforts were needed to consolidate the momentum of existing action plans to combat the dual scourges of crime and drugs. Post-conflict, Sierra Leone was presently engaged in a complex web of development and socio-economic challenges. It was still grappling with structural, economic and social tensions exacerbated by the growing influence of transnational organized crime. That included drug trafficking. In fact, a growing trend of cross-border criminal activities caused by porous borders, rogue States, weak immigrations laws, financial technology and an intricate and accessible global transportation infrastructure had all contributed to rising crime. Consequently, non-State actors were directly challenging the security of several West African countries.
She said major drug smugglers and other international criminal groups were using specialists to study commercial flows, local laws and administrative procedures to target commercial ports. That allowed them to exploit air, sea and land shipping channels to move drugs, arms and other contraband goods. That practice also robbed countries of much-needed revenue. Whatever other macroeconomic impacts that was having, it was likely to result in higher incidences of corruption among law enforcement agents. Moreover, many West African countries lacked the requisite criminal justice personnel and infrastructure to effectively deal with crime prevention and punishment. Sierra Leone had enacted several acts aimed at money-laundering, drug control and human trafficking. The Office of National Security also dealt with the illicit trade in small arms and precious minerals, and Sierra Leone had played a leading role in implementing the ECOWAS moratorium on small arms and light weapons.
IRUTHISAM ADAM ( Maldives) said, as a tourism-driven economy, his country was well-connected to the outside world through its international airports and seaports. That made it highly vulnerable to the drug trade. The situation was made worse by a population of 300,000 that was widely dispersed among the 196 inhabited islands, resulting in a high degree of internal migration. It was not an easy situation to monitor and manage. Although the Maldives did not produce, cultivate or manufacture drugs, it had been used as a transit point for the shipment of precursor chemicals or large quantities of drugs destined for other countries. The number of drug abuse cases in the Maldives had also risen, with most drug users falling between the ages of 16 and 24 years. A national campaign called “Wake Up”, organized by the Government, civil society and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), launched in 2007, emphasized the importance of community support for addicts to help promote recovery.
She said the global fight against illicit narcotics should not lose its focus of protecting human security through enhanced public health. The focus on health security could be implemented through an emphasis on the treatment of drug victims. Increasing awareness among youth on the dangers of drug addiction, and facilitating the reintegration of drug offenders into society as productive citizens, would be one way to help make the shift from a criminal justice orientation to protecting public health. At the same time, international drug control and crime prevention required a consolidated legal foundation that would enable strong legal action against the perpetrators of transnational organized crime, corruption and drug trafficking. Commending the efforts of UNODC in the Maldives, she reiterated the significance of pooling resources to ensure that the fight against drugs was enhanced.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said drug abuse continued to be an impediment to the abilities of individuals, communities and nations to achieve economic, political and social development. While the decline in production and consumption of illicit drugs last year was welcome, the phenomenon continued to impact all regions of the world. In particular, he noted with serious concern the growth of that abuse in some regions which had previously had low rates. From the poor rural farmer in a war-torn zone to the well-to-do in a major metropolis, drug abuse served as a source of financial, emotional and psycho-social escape, with devastating effects on individuals and their families.
The Holy See agreed that the overall health of the individuals should be at the centre of drug control initiatives, he said. The health and dignity of people had to be protected in preventing drug use and treating drug addiction. Yet, addressing the health needs of individuals would be insufficient unless the factors leading to the production and consumption of drugs were also accounted for. The capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism had to be enhanced through field-based technical operations. The particular vulnerabilities of developing countries and populations had to be addressed through alternative development programmes, which should continue to receive support at the national, regional and international levels. Greater efforts should also be made to emphasize the causal relationship between increasing development and eradicating the illegal drug trade. The role played by the family should be considered a cornerstone of that effort.
His delegation noted with special concern the ever more obvious links between the illicit drug trade and other human tragedies, such as human trafficking, the proliferation of small arms, organized crime and terrorism. Indeed, he stressed that those links illustrated how substance abuse was not a victimless offence, but had far-reaching and devastating impacts on communities.
PALITA T. B. KOHONA ( Sri Lanka) said terrorist groups with their transnational linkages and multifaceted criminal networks generated a vast and complex mix of criminal activities, ranging from fund-raising using overseas bases, terrorist financing, money laundering, arms procurement and other organized criminal activities, all of which were interrelated. The transportation of large consignments of sophisticated equipment and lethal cargo to provide logistical support to terrorist groups continued to pose a threat to maritime security. Weapons transported by sea were reaching more than one group. Sri Lanka had fallen victim to dangerous forms of maritime terrorism. Following the recent defeat of a terrorist group, it had been discovered that their networks were being transferred to arms smuggling and drug trafficking on the international arena. That development underlined the need for intelligence-sharing and joint operations among States. He stressed the importance of achieving global consensus on a comprehensive normative framework for international cooperation on terrorism.
He noted that more than half the world’s opiate-using population lived in Asia. The largest markets for cocaine were North America, followed by Europe and South America. The highest level of cannabis use was in North America and Western Europe. It was now important to recognize technological advancements in drug-making, which had led to the development of synthetic drugs that were even easier to transport and cheaper to make. While international cooperation, including legal and other measures, was required to address the increase in global crime, it was just as important to engage in poverty reduction and development programmes. Human smuggling and trafficking were also linked to terrorism, poverty and lack of social advancement. The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime should continue to be the legal “cornerstone” in global efforts against trafficking.
JOSE MARIA MONTERREY SUAY ( El Salvador) said the drug trade threatened the rule of law, as well as socio-economic development in his and other countries. Thus, his delegation agreed that strengthening the rule of law could be a decisive factor in fighting drug trafficking. It was also important for States to share what they had learned in that area. Like other Central American countries, El Salvador had been a victim of the violence of drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. The Government was convinced that efforts to fight these phenomena should be guided by interlocking international, regional and national strategies. For its part, El Salvador had acceded to many international instruments, signed numerous bilateral agreements and enacted domestic legislation.
He said his country was also working to curb drug use. Indeed, the violent actions resulting from the consumption and shopping of illicit and psychotropic substances were alarming and the Government had proposed a series of steps to ensure integrated treatment. There was an essential need for international cooperation and shared responsibilities. He appealed for the strengthening of such cooperation to boost capacities to fight drug trafficking. Although there was much left to be done, El Salvador reaffirmed its determination to fulfil its shared, but differentiated responsibility.
KOH SANG-WOOK ( Republic of Korea) observed that the internet was providing an environment in which transnational crime could be more easily committed, which called for strengthened international cooperation. Such cooperation was premised on enhanced information sharing between States. Each year, since 1989, his country had held an anti-drug liaison officials meeting for international cooperation, and participated in the Centre for Drug Information’s programme operated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to share real-time intelligence on illicit drugs and associated crimes, such as organized crime, corruption, money laundering and terrorism. It also participated in the Drug Abuse Information Network for Asia and the Pacific. An electronic certificate system developed by the Government in 2007 allowed authorities to instantly validate drug import and export certificates over the internet.
He shared the general view that technical assistance was essential in yielding measurable results from efficient information-sharing among States. The guidelines on preventing the illegal sale of internationally controlled substances through the Internet, produced by the INCB and the Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit, developed by UNODC, was much appreciated. His Government had produced similar guidelines for the Golden Triangle region. He noted that civil society was an efficient channel in dealing with drugs and crime-related issues, because of its involvement with underprivileged segments of society. The international community should do more to build a strong partnership with civil society, especially since the current trend in criminal justice was moving from retributive justice to restorative justice. States would have to place more time and effort in developing imprisonment alternatives and vocational programmes, and the participation of civil society was essential in that respect.
LUCA DALL’OGLIO, International Organization for Migration (IOM), focusing on human trafficking and smuggling, said the IOM had intensified its efforts in the areas of prevention, prosecution and protection. A major achievement was the growing dissemination and actual use of the IOM Handbook on Direct Assistance for Victims of Trafficking. In addition, while so much of the world’s focus was on human trafficking, there was also human smuggling -- which affected many vulnerable people who embarked on a risky path of irregular migration offered by smugglers. Almost every day, there was news of the deaths of migrants off the coasts of West Africa, the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the Gulf of Aden and the seas of Southeast Asia. They were part of the so-called “mixed flows” of migrants that could include economic migrants, victims of trafficking and refugees. At times, it was difficult to determine people’s legal categories; the IOM had been working with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to address those assistance and protection gaps.
He said that, given that Africa was one of the continents of origin for many victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, IOM had set up the African Capacity Building Centre with the support of the Government of the Republic of Tanzania. The Centre aimed to promote sound migration governance; develop, institutionalize and deliver migration capacity development and training programmes; and help African States to scale up their migration management capacities. It was expected to provide cooperation to those countries requesting technical expertise in areas such as border management, labour migration, migration policy, and legislative, administrative and operational reform.
A.K. ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) reiterated his country’s determination to address the drug problem in all its facets. It was taking all necessary measures, within its limited capabilities and resources, to control the misuse of drugs. Recent years had seen a proliferation of newer varieties of drugs which were entering the hard-to-guard porous borders of Bangladesh. Those included yaba, which was a combination of methamphetamine and caffeine. Bangladesh had strict penalties, even death penalties, for drug offenders.
He said that, at the national level, reforming the criminal justice system was a crucial policy priority for the Government. The judiciary had been separated from the executive branch. Cooperation with neighbouring countries to curb cross-border crime was being used to prevent offenders from fleeing. Nevertheless, organized crime had become a highly sophisticated, cross-border issue. The rise of some militant groups, such as the “JMB”, had been seen and successfully defeated. Bangladesh now had a functioning anti-corruption commission and was strengthening anti-money laundering mechanisms. It was trying to bring back money being illegally siphoned abroad, but had found asset recovery to be a complicated, time-consuming task. Indeed, it was hard to even track the monies, let alone freeze them and bring them back. The central bank was attempting to become a member of the Egmont Group, so that it could ask for necessary information from other central banks, and looked forward to the support of all countries in its efforts.
Underlining his country’s determination to fight international extremism and terrorism, he said Bangladesh had ratified all 13 international anti-terrorism conventions. It was also party to regional terrorism conventions and had enacted domestic legislation. Additionally, Bangladesh had taken a leading role in fighting the trafficking of persons, especially women and children. It was working to promote regional awareness and to create a fund to help victims of trafficking. Concluding, he noted the vulnerability of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, to the rapid proliferation of new forms of crime and urged the international community and UNODC to forge a global alliance to provide adequate resources and technical know-how to these countries.
MASAMBA SITA, African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, made a statement supplementing the information given in the Secretary-General’s report contained in document A/64/121. General Assembly resolution 63/196 had urged States members of the Institute to continue to make every possible effort to meet their obligations to the Institute. So far, the number of countries that had made their assessed contributions had risen to 12, including Sudan and Senegal, who made their contributions well in advance. That number formed a quarter of the countries in Africa. He was encouraged by that response, though modest. He hoped States members would respond to an initiative launched by the Institute’s Board, through which those States were encouraged to increase their donations. The Board had mandated certain states to mobilize fund collection: Kenya in the east, Sudan in the north, Nigeria in the west, Cameroon in central Africa, and Malawi in the south.
Even though the collection of funds had improved, part of those funds had gone towards paying off its deficits, amounting to around $325,000, covering staff salaries. The Board had called on the Secretary-General to increase funding to the Institute from the United Nations’ regular budget. The Third Committee was asked to consider recommending an increase to its “subsidy”, to help pay for the salaries of the main administrative officers. Crime was a major obstacle to harmonious socio-economic development in all parts of the world. The Institute made a useful contribution to the reduction of poverty, which was the root cause of various forms of crime in that region.
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For information media • not an official record
US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations intercepted a small wooden vessel carrying two men and $3.6 million in cocaine on Sunday, the latest sign that the Caribbean smuggling routes popular in the 1980s are seeing renewed traffic.
Around midnight on October 23, a CBP patrol aircraft detected a 22-foot wooden boat with an outboard engine and two passengers, traveling eastward northwest of Aguadilla, a city in northwest Puerto Rico.
A CBP unit was deployed from Puerto Rico, stopping the vessel and taking the two men aboard, who claimed Dominican citizenship, into custody. On board, there was 283 pounds of contraband that tested positive for cocaine, an amount with an estimated value of $3.6 million, according to the CBP.
The seizure comes about two weeks after the CBP reported the capture of nearly 400 pounds of marijuana floating in the water or washed up on beaches around the Florida Keys and South Florida.
The marijuana intercepted was only worth about $300,000, but the seizures themselves appear to be part of an upswing in such incidents.
According to the CBP, during Fiscal Year 2015, which ran October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, there were 49 such seizures. During Fiscal Year 2016, which ended September 30, those type of seizures nearly doubled, hitting 95.
Puerto Rico and South Florida are far apart, but the area around them is criss-crossed by smuggling routes, and reports over the last several years indicate a growing interest by smugglers in the routes that were heavily trafficked in the 1980s.
In 2013, William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, predicted that traffickers would shift back to Caribbean routes in response to increased enforcement in Central America.
In 2014, US officials estimated that the proportion of drugs shipped through the Caribbean had tripled, with the amount of cocaine traveling through the region increasing from 5% of the total to 16%.
The then-head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration's Caribbean division, Vito Salvatore Guarino, estimated that smugglers moved 90 to 100 tons through the region, more than the about 70 tons of previous years.
According to the DEA's 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment, more than 90 metric tons of cocaine moved through the Caribbean in 2014, mostly on go-fast boats heading toward the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Many of those routes likely start on the Caribbean coasts of Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras, or Panama.
The Caribbean's major islands have also seen more drug activity as those routes shift back into the region.
Jamaica, a major marijuana producer, has seen increased cocaine trafficking, largely directed by gangs on the island.
The Dominican Republic in particular has been seen as a major transshipment point for cocaine and other drugs originating in South and Central America. The country's government reported significant cocaine seizures in 2012 and 2013.
The country said late last year that Haiti had become the destination for traffickers moving drugs through the area, though there is reason to believe Hispaniola as a whole is still a popular transit point for drug trafficking.
Instability in Mexico's criminal underworld and increased enforcement there and in Central America may accelerate the shift toward Caribbean routes.
That said, however, the majority of the cocaine that reaches the US still travels through Mexico via Central America. The DEA said in its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment that 87% of the cocaine flow into the US came through that region, while just 13% traveled through the Caribbean.