21st UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Opening Statement
United States of America
21st UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Vienna, Austria
April 23, 2012

Delivered by:
Brian A. Nichols
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Madam Chairperson, thank you for the floor.  We are pleased to see you leading our work today and during the coming week, and pledge our assistance as you help make this Crime Commission a productive one.

Since the genesis of this Commission, we – its member states – have collectively identified new and emerging crime trends in order to develop appropriate tools, harness resources and work collaboratively to target, penetrate, and dismantle the threats they represent to security and development.  During this time, we have also witnessed the impressive adaptability of criminal organizations to both law enforcement actions and to new opportunities for profit.  Today, most criminal organizations bear no resemblance to the hierarchical organized crime family groups of the past.  Instead, they consist of loose and informal networks that often converge when it is convenient and engage in a diverse array of criminal activities, including the smuggling of counterfeit goods, firearms, drugs, humans, and even wildlife to amass their illicit profits.

At the same time, largely due to pressure from committed countries, terrorist organizations in some cases are turning to crime and criminal networks for both resources and facilitation services in order to sustain their networks and fund their operations.  We have seen that terrorist organizations can overcome differences in motivation and ideology to use criminal organizations to launder their money, acquire funds, and move people and materials across borders.  There are even instances where terrorists are evolving into criminal entrepreneurs in their own right, engaging in illicit activities to finance their operations.

In order to explore these evolving partnerships of convenience further, the United States will host a side-event tomorrow [Tuesday, April 24] at 9:00 am.  This side-event will serve as an opportunity to analyze crime-terror interaction and explain why it is expanding.  We welcome participation and attendance from all interested Crime Commission delegates.

Madam Chairperson, I would now like to turn my remarks to this year’s thematic debate topic.  The United States believes that violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families, including violence perpetrated by organized criminal groups, poses a serious challenge to states and requires multilateral cooperation among all countries towards its eradication.  Migrants, especially women and children, who attempt to cross international borders in an irregular fashion, are highly vulnerable to abuse and crime, including human trafficking, and the United States recognizes that states have an obligation to treat them humanely with full protection of their rights.

To this end, the thematic debate should serve as an opportunity to explore the range of measures within the context of the crime prevention and criminal justice system to prevent, to investigate and to prosecute crimes against migrants and their families, including violations of their legal rights.  In particular, some of these  easures can be found in the application of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols on Migrant Smuggling and on Trafficking in Persons.  These legally binding instruments contain the agreed upon tools to facilitate international cooperation and to afford protections to migrant witnesses who testify in criminal proceedings or become victims of trafficking.  In addition, the Migrant Smuggling Protocol includes provisions aimed at deterring the endangerment of migrants and the infliction of inhuman or degrading treatment upon migrants.  The Migrant Smuggling Protocol also requires states parties to take appropriate measures to prevent the infliction of violence against smuggled migrants.

In support of the thematic debate, the United States  as submitted a draft resolution on promoting cooperation in preventing violent crime against migrants, migrant workers and their families.  We are very pleased and honored to be In working in close collaboration with Turkey in this regard. In the coming days, we welcome further discussions on this draft resolution with all Crime Commission partners.

In closing, I would like also to give special mention to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the technical assistance and capacity building that it undertakes on a global basis.  The United States provided a record $41 million toward UNODC’s assistance efforts in 2011, including in support of the anti-crime legal framework.  We continue to view the organization as an important force multiplier for bilateral assistance efforts and look forward to continuing our partnership in 2012 and beyond.

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