31st Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice | Agenda Item 3: General Debate
As prepared for delivery by Jim Walsh, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Vienna, Austria, May 16, 2022
Good afternoon. I am glad to see many of you here – in person – for the first time in nearly two years. We are excited to be physically here in Vienna again after two years of virtual sessions.
We have much to celebrate but we must focus on the fact that one of our Member States, Ukraine, is experiencing ongoing aggression from another, Russia. Russia launched an unprovoked and premeditated attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This aggression continues to this today, resulting in catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. These horrific actions contravene international law, particularly our obligations under the UN Charter.
As we gather for the CCPCJ, with its thematic focus on cybercrime, the United States notes that Russia continues to use aggressive cyber means to attack and destabilize its neighbor. Membership to this Commission carries with it the responsibility to promote the rule of law and advance criminal justice policies – but Russia is operating in a sphere of lawlessness similar to the bad actors we seek to combat.
While horrific and reprehensible, Russia’s actions will not deter our critical work in this Commission – work that is vital to help Member States protect their citizens, promote rule of law, and foster international cooperation to address a wide range of crimes. We welcome the Commission’s timely focus on strengthening the use of digital evidence in criminal justice and countering cybercrime, and its focus on addressing the abuse and exploitation of minors in illegal activities with the use of the Internet. The United States looks forward to hosting a side event today highlighting Operation Ladybird – a case study in international cooperation to takedown cyber criminals.
We look forward to similar expert-driven discussions throughout the week, including in the CCPCJ’s thematic debate. We also appreciate the enhanced focus within the CCPCJ on crimes that affect the environment. We applaud UNODC for convening the recent CCPCJ expert group on this topic, which gathered more than 800 participants from all over the world. This meeting highlighted the importance of using the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – the existing international framework –to advance international cooperation to combat crimes that affect the environment. While we welcome further discussions on the challenges in this important area, we believe innovative solutions to address them can be found within this existing framework.
Finally, the United States underscores the critical role played by civil society in the CCPCJ and other Vienna-based counterdrug and anti-crime fora. Member States benefit from hearing directly from civil society and their unique experience, expertise, and diverse perspectives. We should be on guard for attempts to shrink civil society participation in Vienna-based fora. It is only with their partnership that we can truly identify challenges and generate ways to solve them.
We look forward to a productive week with you all. Together we will advance the positive change we seek.