Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Opening Statement United States of America 19th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Delivered by Elizabeth Verville
US Department of State/INL
Head of Delegation

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the floor, and it is a pleasure to see you leading our work today and during the coming week.  We have come to rely heavily on your knowledge and leadership to help guide our anti-crime work in Vienna.

We come to this Commission fresh from Salvador and benefiting from the  dozens of substantive anti-crime topics discussed by our experts at various side meetings and other sessions of the UN Crime Congress.  While our representatives from Vienna spent long hours developing a political declaration, we would also like to highlight the numerous side events and expert meetings that led to substantive discussion and produced some interesting outcomes.   The Congress, first and foremost, is the largest gathering of governmental and non-governmental anti-crime experts.  It is a place to discuss the latest challenges and successes of the day, and to opine about the actions of tomorrow.

In Salvador, we discussed , among other things, the evolving face of transnational crime.  We discussed the growing convergence of organized criminal networks and how we are finding that the tentacles of such networks are stretching out to embrace multiple types of criminal activity.  Gone are the days when one crime family or group focused its attention on one or two types of criminal activities.  Criminal groups now go where they can make a profit.  Groups that specialize in trafficking human beings, for example, are also using all or parts of their networks to help move drugs, counterfeit goods and even proceeds of crime.

Mr. Chairman, this picture of the new face of organized crime is only mentioned briefly in the Salvador Declaration, but it is a concept that deserves the attention of this Commission and the UNTOC Conference of Parties that will meet later this year.  Member States will also focus on the latest trends in organized crime at the June 17 high-level event in New York.   Our hope is that through these various events, this year will become a year that will energize and revitalize our collective and individual anti-crime efforts, and help guide us as we determine our shared priorities.

Mr. Chairman, we expect this week to begin touching upon some of our shared priorities.  We expect this Commission to consider next steps in our efforts to improve the availability of crime trend data, particularly taking into consideration the conclusions of the expert group meeting held in Buenos Aires.  We will follow-up on the November expert group meeting on trafficking in cultural property and determine how the criminal justice system can contribute to the already numerous efforts by States and other international organizations to counter this crime.  We will develop ideas for how the criminal justice system can contribute to our efforts to stem violence against women, and consider model strategies developed to that end.  We will also consider rules specific to the treatment of women prisoners, and determine if there is a need to update the broader UN standards and norms for treatment of prisoners in order to better reflect advances in correctional best practices

As this Commission deliberates on these particular items, we ask that Member States also contemplate how they can contribute to the continuation of this work during the coming months.   We hope Member States will participate fully in two key events scheduled for later this year – the June 17 high level event and the October 18-22 UNTOC Conference of the States Parties.  And recognizing the links between crime and corruption and how corruption plays a major role in facilitating transnational crime, we also urge States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption to help get the new review mechanism off to a vigorous start beginning at the first meeting of the Implementation Review Group next month.

As stated in Salvador, our vision of the larger picture of today’s criminals and their activities is still unfolding.  Through the Congress, this Commission and the other events scheduled for later this year, we hope – in this year of the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and anticipating next year’s 20th anniversary of this Commission – that we will better understand the bigger picture of transnational organized crime.  This, in turn, will help us better pinpoint our priorities for particular crimes and action.  It is in our collective interest to do so.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak, and we look forward to a productive week.