U.S. Opening Statement at 10th UNTOC Conference of the Parties

PDAS James A. Walsh speaks at a UNODC event in 2017. (USUNVIE)

10th Conference of Parties of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime: Opening Statement

As delivered by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary James A. Walsh
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
October 12, 2020, Hybrid Format

Thank you, Mr. President.

I wish to congratulate you on your Chairmanship and applaud the great work done to bring us here. The United States is thrilled we are all still “together” in this hybrid format; showing criminals worldwide that not even a global pandemic will keep us from fighting transnational crime. I want to also praise the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for supporting us through these challenging times.

The United States is saddened by the tragic loss of life and global effects of COVID-19. The pandemic’s ripple effect seems unending. Since the pandemic’s start, the United States has observed concerning shifts in criminal activity. Our already taxed criminal justice institutions are struggling to respond. Recognizing these new dynamics, the United States expanded its international assistance to ensure our international law enforcement and criminal justice partners can continue their work without interruption. Strengthening our international cooperation is vital now more than ever.

Twenty years ago we adopted the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (or “UNTOC”), taking a major step forward in fighting crimes with no boundaries that deeply affect our nations. This 20th anniversary is momentous. We should celebrate this shared victory and acknowledge our collective accomplishments, while recognizing there remains much to do.

Today, the UNTOC remains an indispensable tool in fighting shared threats. For the United States, the UNTOC has repeatedly proven its usefulness to our practitioners. Since 2005, we have relied on the UNTOC more than 1,000 times as a legal basis to provide or request mutual legal assistance, extradition, and other forms of international cooperation with over 100 countries. We hope to prioritize more opportunities to use this treaty effectively and pragmatically.

This week, we are poised to finally launch an UNTOC review mechanism. The review mechanism commits us to taking targeted, cost-efficient steps to increase accountability, improve information gathering, and enhance each other’s implementation of the Convention.

We are excited to focus this week on more substantive discussions on the serious crimes affecting us all. With seven resolutions and nearly 60 side events, we all seem ready for more substantive discussions in the COP. Notably, the United States is proud to sponsor one of these seven resolutions focused on trafficking in persons (or “TIP”) in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the UNTOC’s TIP protocol.

I know we are limited for time, so I will close by saying the United States remains committed to working together to uphold our core objective of promoting international cooperation as we fight the world’s most serious crimes. We look forward to working on these issues with you more this week.

Thank you, Mr. President.