30th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
UNODC-led Side Event “UNODC Integrated Approach to Countering Organized Crime through the engagement of NGOs, Academics, and the Private Sector”
Acting Assistant Secretary of State James Walsh’s Opening Remarks
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Good morning or afternoon, depending on where in the world you are attending. Let me first express my appreciation to UNODC for putting together today’s discussion. It is my pleasure to address one of the most significant developments in the United Nation’s work to prevent and combat transnational organized crime over the last 10 years: the successful 2020 launch of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime’s Review Mechanism. After a decade of long and important debate, we are ready to get to work.
Many of us may be quite familiar with the Review Mechanism for the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). In the UNCAC context, the United States itself has gone through two review cycles. The UNTOC Review Mechanism will operate in similar fashion – it will place 189 governments that have joined the UNTOC and its Protocols under a peer review process to evaluate whether they have carried out their treaty obligations, and to make recommendations on how they can improve those efforts. Under this process, two governments will be selected at random to conduct a peer review of a third country, based on responses to questionnaires, copies of legislation, case summaries, and other information provided by the State Party under review.
So this is good progress on its own. However, there is room to build off the successes of the UNCAC Review Mechanism, and make the UNTOC Review Mechanism even stronger.
The UNTOC Review Mechanism includes something groundbreaking that the UNCAC does not: it launches a series of brand-new opportunities for governments to hear directly from and share information with civil society organizations on a regular basis on key issues, including but not limited to transnational organized crime, trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling, and firearms trafficking. Some of these new opportunities are based on existing practices for civil society engagement here at UNODC, but several actions take remarkable new steps that could transform the way we collaborate between governments and civil society to address transnational organized crime.
Multistakeholder engagement is an essential ingredient in all our work, but it could have especially large and profound impact if integrated fully into the UNTOC Review Mechanism process. Time and time again, we have seen that multistakeholder engagement, and the powerful partnerships that can emerge, result in high-impact and long-lasting sustainability outcomes. In that regard, I thought it would be pertinent to highlight an effort the U.S. government has undertaken to increase engagement with nongovernmental organizations, academics, and the private sector, with particular regard to Trafficking in Persons.
The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, established by the U.S. Congress in 2015, provides a formal platform for trafficking survivors to advise and make recommendations to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Each member of this Advisory Council is a survivor of human trafficking, and together represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. The Advisory Council offers a direct line to collaboratively work together with the United States government, and we look forward to carrying this type of partnership into the future.
Finally, I want to draw attention to the fantastic resources UNODC and its Civil Society Team have pulled together. I am confident that the WhatsOn platform being launched today, as well as recently launched Toolkit on Stakeholder Engagement, will prove to be valuable resources to Member States as we set forth together on this effort to create a truly inclusive and collaborative UNTOC Review Mechanism process.
I’m really looking forward to kicking this off and hearing from all of you. Thanks again for joining us.