Panel Presentation by
Her Royal Highness PrincessBajrakitiyabha Mahidol
Chairperson of the 21st Session of the CCPCJ
at the Thematic Debate of the 66th session of the UNGA on
“Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development”
New York, 26 June 2012
Mr. Yury Fedotov,
Executive Director of the UNODC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th session of the UNGA, for organizing this important thematic debate on “Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development,” and for inviting me to attend. This thematic debate provides us with a great opportunity to discuss a most pressing issue - how we could effectively prevent the adverse impacts of drugs and crime on development in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
2. In today's globalized world, crime has evolved and expanded into more complex activities, involving multi-faceted networks of criminal organizations with a transnational nature. Crime and corruption undermine the rule of law, the justice system, and society as a whole, especially in fragile and post-conflict states where such essential institutions are inherently weak. Crime not only causes injustice, inequality and human rights violations, but also hinders an enabling environment necessary for sustainable development.
3. It is our people, especially those most vulnerable, who suffer. Those who are deprived of an opportunity for development may choose the path of crime as a way out of poverty, without realizing that they are contributing to the cause of their despair. They become victims of an endless vicious cycle. I would thus like to underline the centrality of crime prevention and the rule of law to the debate. Long-term sustainable economic and social development and the establishment of a functioning, efficient, effective and humane criminal justice system have a positive influence on each other, as recognized in the Salvador Declaration. In my remarks, I will focus on some of the challenges and opportunities in making this a virtuous, instead of vicious, circle.
Ladies and gentlemen,
4. In addressing the challenge of mainstreaming crime prevention into development initiatives, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) must be a first premise. As we approach the target date of the MDGs in 2015, all of us need to constantly reassess whether those goals could be fully achieved. This is not for the insufficiency of resources invested in achieving them, but rather due to the prevalence of crime and corruption in many countries that have undermined the rule of law and weakened the economy, hampering progress in this respect.
5. Corruption diverts resources away from activities that are vital for poverty eradication, the fight against hunger and sustainable development. It also impedes the delivery of effective foreign development aid and discourages direct foreign investment. Economic crimes and intellectual property theft are emerging crimes that further impedes development, while human trafficking, in which women and children are mainly targeted, represents lost economic opportunities, including the irreversible loss of human resources and future productivity that may have helped promote development. In many countries, local mafias are engaged in loan sharking and violent debt collection from the loans they make to poor villagers. Out of fear and pressure to pay their debt, the poor themselves resort to criminal activities, thus perpetuating this vicious cycle.
6. At the 21st session of the CCPCJ in Vienna, member states discussed extensively on crime trends, including cyber crime and trafficking in cultural property, and the linkages between various types of crimes, including illicit drugs, human trafficking, money laundering, corruption as well as, in some cases, terrorism. We also recommended to the ECOSOC for the adoption by the GA a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening the rule of law and the reform of criminal justice institutions, particularly in the areas related to the United Nations system-wide approach to fighting transnational organized crime and drug trafficking”. This sends an unequivocal message that a robust rule of law is needed in order to rid the world of these scourges, while promoting sustainable development, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
7. That widespread recognition of the link between achieving development targets and crime prevention remains a major challenge is true in every sense. One difficulty lies in the fact that the MDGs make no specific reference to transnational organized crime. As such, concurrent efforts in reducing criminality and crime-related violenceare not organically linked to their attainment. Another difficulty has to do with the assessment of how much crime prevention contributes to the outcome of development, which may discourage stakeholders from committing their resources. Some may even question the relevance of the link between crime prevention and development entirely.
8. On the contrary, I strongly believe in the tangible benefits of crime prevention to sustainable development. Following the Rio + 20 Conference, it is high time that we advocate for a paradigm shift in this direction. The next UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to be held in Qatar in 2015 coincides with the year the MDGs cycle ends. Championing transnational organized crime, justice and the rule of law in the post-2015 development agenda should be our priority, and we must not let this be a missed opportunity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
9. The implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols thereto, Convention against Corruption as well as the drug control conventions serves as a prime objective in addressing the crime-development nexus. There is also a set of UN standards and norms, for example, the updated UN Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice which directly relates to MDG 3 on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime are also relevant as they contain strategies that not only prevent crime and victimization, but also contribute to the sustainable development of countries.
10. The linkage between crime and development is not a one-way street. While crime has an adverse impact on development, development can help resolve crime. Sustainable alternative development is one such example, and I am pleased to mention the case of Thailand where opium cultivation has been drastically reduced to near zero rates, through the provision of alternative legitimate income sources and the strengthening of vulnerable communities. Communities without drugs and crime are sustainable communities that are healthy and resilient, and where women and children meet the basic development indicators.
11. I would urge all states to examine their existing crime prevention and criminal justice programmes in order to identify potential benefits on development, to share their best practices, and to establish networks of cooperation. This allows all stakeholders, includingintergovernmental, regional, sub-regional organizations, NGOs and the private sector, to better coordinate their efforts against transnational organized crime and its impact on development. Thailand stands ready to share our experiences in sustainable alternative development to assist international efforts to fight the drug problem.
Ladies and gentlemen,
12. To improve the coordinated efforts of the international community, the system of coherence and communication at all levels is key. I therefore applaud the Secretary-General's decision to establish the UN Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking which aims for an effective UN system-wide approach that integrates responses to transnational organized crime into its peacekeeping, peacebuilding, security and development activities. The Task Force comprises of several UN agencies related to these issues such as UNODC, DPA, DPKO, UN Peacebuilding Commission, UNDP, UN Women, WHO, among others. It is hoped that the Task Force's effort to “Deliver as One” will provide states with new directions and strategies to integrate crime prevention and criminal justice elements into their development programmes.
13. I also firmly support the ongoing efforts at enhancing coordination and dialogue between the ECOSOC and its functional commissions, namely the CCPCJ and the CND. In chairing the CCPCJ, I have always been conscious of the need to promote such greater engagement and coordination not only with ECOSOC, but also with the other functional commissions to promote the cross-fertilization of ideas. Already, the ECOSOC requested its functional commissions to examine the post-2015 development agenda as it pertains to their respective mandates.
14. It is encouraging to note that the main theme and agenda items for the 13th Crime Congress which were agreed at the 21st session of the CCPCJ clearly reflects the desire of the CCPCJ to place its work into the wider UN agenda, including in addressing socio-economic challenges and promoting the rule of law in support of sustainable development. We could also benefit from the resources and expertise of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network Institutes for the substantive preparation of the Congress.
15. As Chairperson of the governing body of the UNODC, I would like to stress that the threats emanating from drugs and crime to development are clear and present. We, the international community, have a common and shared responsibility to ensure that the UNODC is financially adequate to respond to these threats. I am convinced that the UN regular budget increase in the overall financial situation of the UNODC will further strengthen its capacity. The GA, and particularly the Fifth Committee, has an important role to play in this regard.
16. Drugs and crime also entail negative impact on the security of states, especially those emerging from conflict. To reverse the trend, I believe that transitional justice and justice sector reform should figure prominently in any peacekeeping and peacebuilding effort. We need to restore the rule of law in such societies so as to give them the immune system necessary against these destabilizing effects.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
17. In closing, it should be underlined that crime threatens the attainment of sustainable development. The prevalence of crime leads to instability and insecurity which would damage even the most accomplished development efforts. We must be mindful that peace, security, and development are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and cannot be sustainable if each stand in isolation. Thus, a true integration of crime prevention into development efforts will be an important step forward. I therefore urge all states and stakeholders to commit sufficient resources to the strengthening of crime prevention and criminal justice systems and the rule of law, through enhanced technical cooperation, the sharing of experiences and best practices, and promoting other forms of cooperation amongst all stakeholders. Now is the time for us to unite against the threat of crime in order to ensure that development is truly sustainable.
18. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. McLay, Mr. Fedotov, and all those involved in organizing this important and timely thematic debate. I look forward to the presentations and a lively and meaningful discussion this afternoon.