I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves this statement.
Organized crime is a worldwide phenomenon which needs to be addressed at national, regional and international levels. It undermines democracy, disrupts legitimate economic activity, drains national assets and inhibits the development of stable societies. The EU fully recognizes the key role which international cooperation must play in combating international crime and supports the work of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme in fostering international cooperation in this field, in particular through its technical cooperation capacity. The EU remains committed to providing technical assistance to third countries, in particular developing countries, in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice as a way to assist them in establishing the primacy of the rule of law.
A substantial number of EU Member States, as well as candidates and Stabilization and Association Process countries, have ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols and I can assure you of our commitment to complete the ratification process as soon as possible.
The development of the European Union as an area of freedom, security and justice – one of its core objectives – can only succeed if underpinned by a partnership with third countries. The EU is therefore committed to setting up and developing mechanisms to facilitate police and judicial cooperation between States, covering in particular joint investigations, extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and asset recovery, in line with the priorities laid down in The Hague Programme, an EU multi-annual programme which also includes the fight against organized crime.
Trafficking in persons has become a major concern of the international community and one of the most profitable activities of criminal groups world wide. Virtually every country is affected by this global phenomenon, whether as a source, a destination or a transit point for victims. Preventing and combating it requires an international and multi-disciplinary approach, national and international strategies and increased prevention activities.
Because of its global dimension, it is clear that human trafficking can only be adequately addressed by the combined efforts of the international community. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, provides a useful global tool to combat and prevent the crime of human trafficking. The Protocol entered into force in 2003 and it has been ratified by 115 countries to date.
We support efforts by the UNODC, which facilitated the negotiations of the Protocol and has been pivotal to the United Nations efforts to combat the global threat of organized crime and human trafficking. The UNODC driven UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, UN GIFT, aims at bringing together all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, academia and international business corporations, to focus available resources. At the present stage, advocacy, in the sense of raising consciousness and, consequently, support, needs to be at the centre. The EU hopes that the Vienna Forum will serve as a clarifying as well as a catalyzing event to facilitate technical assistance to UN member states, in order to enable them to fight Human Trafficking on the basis of the provisions of the Protocol.
The European Union recognises the impact of corruption as an obstacle to sustainable development and good governance. The UN Convention against Corruption, which has now been signed by 140 countries, is the first legally binding, international anti-corruption instrument. At the Second Conference of the States Parties, to be held in January 2008, our challenge is to work towards the successful implementation of the Convention. It is the task of the Conference to decide on an appropriate and effective review mechanism to assist in the implementation of the Convention. We encourage all parties to make use of the remaining time to reflect on how best to achieve these goals and to actively participate in the Conference.
Countering international terrorism remains high on the agenda of the European Union. The EU reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. At the same time, we would like to commend the United Nations on significant progress in leading global efforts to combat international terrorism in a sustainable way. The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy of the United Nations, adopted by consensus a year ago, has been substantiated by the important work of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force as a coordination and information-sharing body. The question of appropriate funding of the task force of the CTITF Unit needs to be addressed without delay. Its work has been supported by valuable contributions by Member States. The elaboration of the UN Counter-Terrorism Online Handbook has been a very useful step to facilitate the implementation of the Global Strategy. The EU and its member-states stand ready to assist the CTIFT in implementing the strategy, and intend to focus on important issues such as preventing radicalisation and securing Human Rights while fighting terrorism.
The Strategys four clusters are linked to a wide variety of UN tasks and as such relate to the entire work of the United Nations. The necessary mainstreaming of terrorism prevention into all relevant UN activities will require enhanced cooperation and coordination among all constituencies. The Vienna Terrorism Symposium last May brought together the Members of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force, Member States, civil society, academia and think tanks. It succeeded in raising awareness of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and promoting its implementation by identifying concrete measures.
At this point, we would like to confirm our firm support for the valuable work of the UN CTITF, in particular the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UNODC. By offering technical assistance to Member States to sign, ratify and implement the international instruments against terrorism, the UNODC and its Terrorism Prevention Branch have been contributing significantly to the creation of a global network of anti-terrorism legislature, enabling Member States to counter terrorism efficiently while securing Human Rights and within the rule of law. The Global Strategy requires the UNODC to enhance its technical assistance delivery function, going beyond the Terrorism Prevention Branch by also including its anti-corruption, money laundering and rule of law units.
The European Union remains strongly committed to effectively addressing the international drug problem. The drugs phenomenon remains one of the major threats to the security and health of European society and the world at large. The European Union response to this phenomenon takes place within the framework of the EU Drugs Strategy for 2005-2012 and the EU Drugs Action Plan for 2005-2008. In December 2006, the first progress review on the implementation of the Action Plan was presented, in order to assess to what extent activities foreseen have been implemented and their objectives reached. An impact assessment of the Action Plan, planned for the end of 2008, will provide an overview of the Plans outputs as well as a snapshot on the state of the drugs situation which it seeks to address. This will form the basis for the new Action Plan 2008-2012.
Given the global nature of the drugs problem, both the Strategy for 2005-2012 and the Action Plan for 2005-2008 strengthen the engagement in political and technical dialogues and cooperation mechanisms on drug issues with key countries and regions, most of which are on the heroin and cocaine routes. This cooperation with third countries and regions will remain based on the principle of shared responsibility and will be conducted throughout a balanced approach between supply reduction and demand reduction.
With international cooperation projects in the field of drugs ascending to nearly 760 million euros in 2005, the European Union is the largest international contributor and a leading player in global efforts against drugs. Afghanistan, with 59%, and the three main coca growing countries (Colombia, Bolivia and Peru), with 28%, are responsible for most of the funding devoted by the EU to anti-drug international projects. In terms of thematic distribution, alternative development accounts for about two thirds of all EU spending.
Apart from these realities, new challenges lie ahead of us, including the growing presence of drug trafficking organisations in weak and fragile states, a disruptive phenomenon which poses serious problems of governance and security. The international community must endeavour to find ways to react promptly to these new problems posed by the drug trafficking organisations, ever more resourceful. Equally important is to apply evidence based policies that address the challenge of HIV/AIDS transmission via intravenous drug use.
One of the most effective ways to improve international response to the drug menace is the promotion of regular mechanisms of articulation and complementarity between the action of the leading international actors in this field – namely the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC -, in order to avoid duplication and to generate new synergies.
The consumption of some drugs in Europe, especially cocaine and synthetic drugs, has been on a rise in recent years. The European Union realises that only throughout integrated policies – combining social, economic, health and legal responses – and the exchange of best practices at the international level, may allow for drug use, drug dependence and drug related health and social consequences to be efficiently addressed.
The UNGASS assessment is a unique opportunity for the international community to engage in an objective, scientific, balanced and transparent reflection on the UNGASS global process, in order to reach a common vision that leads to an effective global response to the drugs threat. In the framework of this exercise – which includes the review of the implementation of the commitments made -, the European Union is ready to look for common platforms with other groups and regions, always bearing in mind the need to ensure a balanced approach between demand reduction and supply reduction of illicit drugs.
On that note, I would like to finish by stressing the EUs support for the work of the UNODC and its strong commitment in the international fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.