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9 October 2008 - Item 97 - Crime prevention and criminal justice / Item 98 - International drug control - Statement on behalf of the European union

— Unofficial translation —

Mr. President,

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Country Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

Organized transnational crime is a global phenomenon that we must fight at national, regional and international levels.This scourge undermines democracy, thwarts legitimate economic activities and hinders the development of societies.

The European Union acknowledges the central role that international cooperation plays in this area. Cooperation is a key to combating this phenomenon and its disastrous effects on all our societies. The European Union stands ready to support the mechanisms for police and judicial cooperation among States, in particular as regards investigations, extraditions and international cooperation in accordance with the priorities of the Hague Programme for the EU, which also include fighting organized transnational crime.

Similarly, we steadfastly support the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme. The vast majority of EU Member States have ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Additional Protocols - the only universal instrument to combat this blight. We will participate actively in the debates at the 4th Conference of States Parties, which to be held in Vienna from 8 to 17 October. We hope that the Conference will facilitate progress on all issues relating to the implementation of the Convention, as well as its Additional Protocols, including the issue of the follow-up mechanism.

The European Union will continue to take an active role in the efforts undertaken by the international community to fight organized crime and impunity. In this regard, technical assistance is a key point if we are to continue pressing forward in this combat. The European Union has demonstrated that it has clearly assessed the scale of the issues involved. It is the largest provider of technical assistance to third States and supports them in their efforts to establish and protect the rule of law.

Mr. President,

Human trafficking is one of the most despicable crimes of our time. In this regard, it has become a major issue of concern for the entire international community. This form of organized crime runs contrary to civilized, human and democratic values. We cannot keep silent or remain indifferent when faced with this issue. We cannot tolerate international networks that reap huge profits from this crime.

As a consequence of its international dimension, only the combined efforts of the international community can resolve the human trafficking issue. There is no question that this form of modern slavery must become one of our top priorities. Cooperation and coordination among States and relevant international organisations must be strengthened in order to make full use of existing mechanisms at all levels. The EU encourages the Conference of Parties to the protocol of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to enhance their efforts to ensure this goal. Furthermore, national and international strategies must be put into place because this issue concerns us all, whether our countries be points of origin, destination or transit for human trafficking.

In this fight against human trafficking, the European Union welcomes the efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which played a particularly crucial role in the negotiations of the Additional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to curb, prevent and punish human trafficking, especially that of trafficking of women and girls as well as child trafficking. We are pleased that eight States have ratified this texts this year, raising the total number of ratifying States to 123.

I would also like to draw your attention to the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, organized through the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), a technical assistance project. This event contributed to raising the international community’s awareness of this problem and to encouraging States that have not already done so to develop specific legislation for fighting human trafficking.

Concerning the General Assembly thematic debate on human trafficking held on 3 June 2008, the EU would like to recollect that Member States did not give one single direction, as was also recognized in the summary of the President of the General Assembly, and that several Member States during that meeting stressed that before the development of a United Nations strategy, it is important to look into all aspects, requirements and added value the strategy would provide to existing mechanisms and instruments. Other countries referred to the Palermo Protocol as "the UN strategy" and emphasized that priority should be given to improve its implementation and widen its adherence. There was a proposal to formulate the key elements of the proposed strategy and elaborate it further at the 4th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UNTOC.

Mr. President,

I would now like to talk about a disease that is eating away at our democracies from the inside out - corruption. This scourge is so widespread that it has become a rule of conduct in some countries. We can no longer allow entire populations to be taken advantage of in this way because corruption represents a major obstacle to sustainable development and good governance.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the first legally binding anti-corruption instrument. Already ratified by 122 countries, this Convention demonstrates the international community’s resolve to fight this scourge. It is the responsibility of States to continue their efforts and cooperation to supplement and enhance this plan. This was the goal of the Second Conference of States Parties to the Convention that was held in Bali in January 2008. To ensure the implementation of this Convention, States decided to work on establishing a review mechanism. The Working Group tasked with this issue has made progress. The European Union hopes that this debate will be concluded before the next Conference of States Parties scheduled for late 2009 in order to adopt an instrument that will help us fight this phenomenon more effectively.

Mr. President,

Terrorism is another human-rights issue which gives cause for concern, and is therefore a priority for the European Union. EU Member States condemn terrorism in all its forms, as our democracies cannot tolerate the use of terror or violence to express opinions, or the brutality of a "might makes right" mindset.

It is the responsibility of all governments to protect their citizens from terrorism, and it is up to international organizations like the United Nations to actively support them in that role. In that regard, I commend the remarkable work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) and the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch. The coordination, support and technical assistance that these teams provide helps to create a world counter-terrorism network which allows a battle to be waged against terrorism while respecting human rights and the rule of law. The European Union also welcomes the satisfactory implementation review of the UN worldwide counter terrorism strategy, undertaken by the UNGA on 4 and 5 September last, which was a reminder that counter terrorism can be dealt with on a consensual basis.

Our response to terrorists must be hard but fair. These attitudes are not incompatible - they are even complementary. The fight against terrorism can and must be carried out while respecting human rights, international humanitarian law and refugees’ rights. In this regard, the European Union recalls the importance of the Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons. This Convention bans all secret places of detention and represents an invaluable instrument in preventing torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. This convention is an all the more important tool given that we cannot renounce the essential guarantees of the rule of law. We cannot renounce the very foundation of our freedom. Respecting human rights is not an obstacle, but rather an asset in fighting terrorism.

Mr. President,

Drugs continue to destroy lives, sow the seeds for crime and endanger the sustainability of development. Every year, drugs kills tens of thousands of people around the world, while drug production and trafficking makes a lot of money for individuals and organizations who are involved in this criminal activity. We are pleased that the Security Council, when adopting Resolution 1817, emphasized that efforts accomplished on a national, sub-regional, regional and international level must be further coordinated to step up worldwide action against the diversion of chemical precursors used in drug manufacturing. To ensure this resolution is implemented, we would like Afghanistan, neighbouring countries and precursor transit countries to make firm commitments to request a system of prior notice of precursor exports, as set out in the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, as well as in the PEN-Online notice exchange system.

The UNGA special session review on drugs and the high-level debate scheduled for the fifty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on 11 and 12 March 2009 will give us the opportunity to step up our efforts to combat the drug problem around the world.

In this context, the European Union recalls its commitment to the international treaties and other legal instruments for drug control which will continue to represent the foundation for international cooperation in the worldwide fight against drugs. The careful assessment carried out in working group meetings, declarations, action plans and measures adopted by the special session of the General Assembly of 1998 emphasizes the need to adapt to the current situation. This is why the European Union promotes the adoption of a new political declaration in the high-level meeting for 2009, which will set future UN policies on drugs.

The general objectives and goals of UN drug policy should be drawn up in accordance with international drug control instruments, and in conjunction with human rights instruments, rule of law and the principle of proportionality. These objectives and goals must be maintained and consolidated to achieve a measurable reduction in the supply and demand of drugs in order to allay the health and social consequences of drug use. The overall goals and targets of the UN drug policy set out in line with international drug control treaties, above all seen in conjunction with human rights instruments, the rule of law and proportionality issues, should be maintained and confirmed, with the aim of achieving a measurable reduction of supply and demand of illicit drugs and an increase and broadening of harm reduction interventions, with a view to reducing the adversary effects of drug abuse.

The notion of shared responsibility is at the core of UN policies on drugs. We should recognize that distinction can no longer be made between "supplier" and "consumer" countries, as most countries are both of these things at once.

In conclusion, we must marshal all our strength to guarantee the success of the high- level debate and establish a policy for the next decade which would allow us to tackle the drug problem more effectively. To achieve this goal, the European Union would like to share its ideas with all UN member countries in the preparatory process of the high-level debate.

Mr. President, thank you very much.



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