Transnational criminal activity ranges from trafficking in humans, firearms and drugs; smuggling migrants, wildlife and cultural objects; to money-laundering and counterfeiting medicines, consumer goods, and other intellectual property. By spreading corruption and destabilizing governments; draining profits from legitimate manufacturers and vendors; and victimizing individuals in a variety of ways from forced labor and sex trafficking to flooding markets with fake medications, organized crime causes serious harm to every society at every level.
Today’s criminals benefit tremendously from instant global communication, and flourish in an environment that knows no borders. They often work in loose, fluid networks that cooperate intermittently but maintain their independence, and they go anywhere they can make a profit.
Thus, in response to the burgeoning growth of transnational organized crime, fourteen years ago, the global community began to fight organized crime together under the auspices of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, or UNTOC.
“The UNTOC helps facilitate important cooperation among States Parties in serious criminal cases,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Brooke Darby at the Convention’s seventh meeting in early October. Such cooperation has resulted in much success, said Deputy Assistant Secretary Darby. But now, after more than a decade of experience, we must ask: how can we improve the process?
First, we must increase our common support. Last year, the United States pledged over $65 million to UNODC for its assistance programs. During the same period, we also allocated $1.4 billion for technical assistance programs all over the world focused on transnational crime of every type. And we encourage all member states to similarly support technical assistance to partners that have the will, but not the means to successfully combat transnational organized crime.
This is a challenge that cannot be met by governments alone. We need the support and full participation of civil society, non-governmental organizations, the media, and the private sector. They can help identify problems and solutions, generate new ideas, provide essential services and advocate on behalf of victims, act as watchdogs, and find and prevent and respond to criminal exploitation.
“While States Parties have a unique level of responsibility under the Convention, and thus must always play a leading role on decisions within this Conference,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Darby, “we can only benefit from more cooperation and dialogue with civil society."