VIENNA, 12 October 2020
Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opened the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime today, calling attention to the COVID-19 crisis as an accelerator for criminal activity and urging governments to take a multilateral approach in combating organized crime.
“The pandemic has also heightened the vulnerability of migrants to the risk of human trafficking and migrant smuggling. International cooperation through the Convention against Transnational organized crime is more urgent than ever. We need to come together to prevent exploitation and protect the vulnerable,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antònio Guterres in his video message.
The opening session was also addressed by the outgoing President of the 9th session, H.E. Mr. Alessandro Cortese, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Italy, H.E. Mr. Mohamed El-Molla, Permanent Representative of Egypt, and other high-level speakers.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Palermo Convention and Ms. Waly highlighted the need for governments to work together in order to amplify the impact of the Convention and its protocols, and protect the most vulnerable.
She said, “Important work lies ahead this week, as we mark the Convention’s 20th anniversary by advancing the fight against transnational organized crime, strengthening prevention and enhancing protection of crime victims. We are all gathered here, in person or virtually, because we believe in the power of the Convention and its Protocols to drive solutions to problems that no country can face alone, and to keep our societies safer and able to prosper.
”The 10th session follows on from the 2018 session of the Conference, where members agreed on new resolutions for strengthening the implementation of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition, and on international cooperation.
The UNODC Executive Director called for stronger international cooperation in the face of the global health and criminality crisis.
“It is essential that the world unites around common frameworks to take urgent action, as criminals are taking advantage of opportunities created by the COVID-19 crisis and new threats are multiplying,” she said. “UNODC has supported Convention implementation in over 130 countries, through its global programmes and extensive field office network.
”The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime has achieved near-universal ratification, with 190 State parties. The Protocols have achieved a similarly high level of acceptance, with 178 States parties to the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, 149 to the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol; and 119 to the Firearms Protocol.
117 registered delegations including 874 delegates of Member States and 101 observers will meet this week at the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Government representatives, crime experts and civil society partners will address the effective implementation of the Convention and its Protocols, as well international cooperation in criminal matters and new and emerging crimes within the context of the global pandemic, such as the emergence of falsified medical products.