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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland† and Serbia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
Transnational organized crime and corruption pose threats to peace and security worldwide and hamper sustainable development of societies in many different ways. Organized crime hinders legitimate economic activity and undermines democratic governance, the rule of law and security. In some cases, it has even forged links with international terrorism. In addition to trafficking established commodities such as drugs, criminal groups have expanded their actions to include cybercrime, piracy, and counterfeit medicines and other products. Trafficking in persons is one of the most heinous manifestations of organized crime. Crimes are also committed in the smuggling of migrants.
The EU and its Member States believe that transnational crime, as a global phenomenon, needs to be tackled in a holistic and integrated manner at national, regional and international level. Cross-border threats can only be countered through effective judicial and law enforcement cooperation between States and regions. We take this opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols as an agreed set of principles, standards and rules in combating transnational organised crime. We welcome the increase in ratifications of these instruments and call on all the States to further promote their adherence and comprehensive and effective implementation. In that respect, the EU and its Member States support the proposal of a review mechanism for UNTOC. This should assist us all identifying possible improvements in the implementation of the Convention and its protocols by the Parties. The mechanism should complement already existing international efforts such as that supported by the Council of Europe. We underline that such a review mechanism needs to be strong and effective, and allow for the exchange of good practice and expertise including by involving the participation of civil society.
The UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime plays an important role in providing assistance on extradition, mutual legal assistance and asset forfeiture. Technical assistance is of crucial importance in ensuring the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention and Protocols thereto. The EU provides financial support to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in order to achieve such technical assistance and strongly supports the work of the relevant UN bodies at the global level in these fields.
The EU emphasises the importance of the external dimension of the Union’s policy in the area of freedom, security and justice and therefore the EU is fully committed to make international cooperation more effective and has stepped up European cooperation considerably in accordance with the EU’s priorities for developing an area of justice, freedom and security. At the same time, the EU is continuously enhancing its internal legislative framework and intensifying cooperation on police, customs and judicial civil and criminal law matters. The EU considers the European Arrest Warrant as one of the most important tools of judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the EU. As the effective mutual cooperation in criminal matters requires the high respect for fundamental rights and fair trial guarantees, the EU is focusing on further strengthening the rights of defendants and victims in the criminal proceedings.
Corruption poses a serious threat to the integrity of our governments, administration and societies. The EU and its Member States remain committed to further promote the ratification and implementation process of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). We believe that its review mechanism created in 2009 strengthens our common endeavour to fight corruption, and we are similarly confident that a recently established EU anti-corruption reporting mechanism will further enhance compliance with international and EU commitments. We call on all to enable participation of civil society in the reviews, to embrace field visits as essential for the effectiveness and efficiency of the reviews, to support a structural dialogue between civil society and the Implementation Review Group and, for obvious reasons of transparency, to publicize full country reports. We also support the work of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption which allows for the exchange of good practices.
Drug-related problems remain one of the major concerns of the citizens of the European Union. They pose a major threat to national and international security, and endanger the health of individuals, communities and societies. The EU reaffirms its commitment to respond to the world drug problem. We believe that an integrated, multidisciplinary, evidence-based, mutually reinforcing and balanced approach between drug demand and drug supply reduction is needed. This approach should furthermore be based on the principles of shared responsibility and proportionality, and should be in full consistency with the basic principles of the dignity of all those affected by the global drug problem, including dependent drug users and in full respect of fundamental freedoms and human rights. A balanced and humane approach is particularly relevant in the context of HIV prevention. The EU reaffirms its commitment to reducing the transmission among people who take drugs by injection by 50 percent in 2015, taking into account the WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS Technical Guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users.
It is also in this context that the European Union, complementary to national drug control strategies, has developed EU Drugs Strategies and Action Plans which serve as effective tools for enhanced cooperation and better coordination of drugs policies in Europe. A new strategy 2013-2020 will be adopted by the European Council at the end of the year. The drugs problem needs to be addressed in a global context: coordinated action at EU level plays an important role, and the new strategy will provide a common and evidence-based framework, and a strategic model, for helping reducing drug use and drug supply, as well as the health and social harms caused by drugs. As the previous strategy, this will be achieved through an integrated, balanced and evidence-based approach.
Today’s interconnected world requires an approach to internal security that encompasses international cooperation. In addition to the cooperation between the law-enforcement agencies of Member States and EU neighbours, the EU is building bilateral relationships or regional approaches with our partners in areas of mutual interest and concern. We are, for instance, holding high-level dialogues on security and law enforcement that discuss the issues on the agenda of the committee today.
With the adoption of a Global Action Plan, the General Assembly reaffirmed the political willingness to tackle human trafficking, one of the most shameful crimes of our time and established a Trust Fund for Victims that is distributing small grants to front-line organizations helping survivors of trafficking in persons. The EU remains strongly committed to the implementation of the existing international legal instruments in that area, in particular the UNTOC Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children as they form the pillar for international cooperation in this domain. The EU urges all Member States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to these instruments and to implement them fully and effectively and also invites all Member States to contribute to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking.
The European Union’s approach to trafficking in human beings is based on human rights and is gender-specific. It focuses on prevention, prosecution of criminals and protection of victims. This is reflected in the Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking and protecting its victims and the new EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings adopted on 19 June 2012.
Given the political priority of trafficking in human beings, the European Commission appointed the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator who is providing the overall strategic policy orientation to improve coordination and coherence between EU Institutions and EU agencies as well with Member States and international actors. In December 2010, the European Commission launched an anti-trafficking policy website which has become a one-stop shop for practitioners providing an overview of EU measures addressing human trafficking.
A number of EU cooperation programmes support the enactment, in our partner countries, of anti-trafficking legislation, investigation and prosecution as well as measures to combat all types of violence against children, young people and women. The projects contribute as well to analysing and addressing the underlying causes of human trafficking.
Child sexual abuse is among the most horrific of crimes. The internet, which has brought so many benefits to the lives of millions, has also facilitated child sexual abuse. Child pornography images circulate easily across jurisdictions, and can remain available on the internet forever. In 2011, the EU strengthened the legal framework in this field with the adoption of a Directive on child sexual abuse and exploitation, and child pornography and launched the European Financial Coalition including internet providers, banks and law enforcement to combat the production, distribution and sale of child pornography images on the internet.
We all have a responsibility to do more to address this deplorable crime, to identify child victims, and to prosecute offenders. These crimes are international in dimension. This is why the European Union and the United States of America are calling upon governments around the world to participate in building a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online. Members of the Global Alliance will commit to take specific and concrete actions to implement four shared goals:
•Enhancing efforts to identify victims, and ensuring their assistance, support and protection;
•Advancing efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of child sexual abuse online;
•Increasing public awareness of the risks posed by children’s activities online; and
•Reducing the availability of child pornography online and the re-victimization of children.
We urge countries worldwide you to join us in this struggle to protect our children.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, may I reiterate our full support for the UN’s pivotal role in the development of effective strategies and measures in fighting transnational crime in all its forms and for the full respect and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in that context.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process
† Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area