Organized crime gone global and poses serious threats, says new UN report

09:35, June 18, 2010      

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The threat posed by organized crime has transcended across borders and reached new global heights in economics and power, said a new report launched here Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC).

The report, titled "The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment," is the first comprehensive assessment of global crime markets and examines the major flows of drugs, firearms, counterfeit products, stolen natural resources and people.

"Organized crime has gone global, reached macro-economic levels, and poses a serious threat to the stability, even the sovereignty, of states," said Antonio Maria Costa at a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on transnational organized crime where he presented key findings from the report.

"The threat is not just economic," Costa told the world body. " The profits of crime, and the threat or use of force, enable criminals to influence elections, politicians and power -- even the military."

It is crucial to assist the vulnerable countries, who are unable to combat the increasing threat, Costa said as he underscored the need to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which would be an "effective antidote to crime."

"Putting a stronger emphasis on criminal justice in peace- keeping and peace-building operations would reduce instability that is a magnet for crime," Costa said.

The report found that countries who grow some of the world's most illicit drugs, like Afghanistan and Colombia, receive the main spotlight and criticism. But the countries with the highest drug-related profits are those destination rich countries, said the report.

"Therefore, one of the greatest challenges is to reduce demand for illicit goods," Costa said.

The demand is fueling the trade where criminals are motivated by profit, Costa said.

Focusing on solely traffickers is insufficient, Costa told the General Assembly. "Therefore, in order to more effectively fight organized crime, we must shift focus from disrupting the mafias to disrupting their markets," he said.

He urged for a crack down on accomplices of crime, namely the " army of white-collar criminals" like lawyers, and accountants "who cover them up and launder their proceeds."

"In our inter-connected world, no country can tackle the problem on its own," Costa said. "Indeed, no country should since a purely national response risks displacing the problem from country to another."

Costa called for the world body to implement the 2000 UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime which he said has "suffered from benign neglect" in the last decade.

The 10-year-old UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three additional Protocols aim to suppress trafficking in persons, especially women and children, the smuggling of migrants, and the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms and ammunition.

Widely known as the Palermo Convention, this year marks the tenth anniversary.

"Crime has internationalized faster than law enforcement and world governance," Costa said.

The report had several key findings, including the shrinking of the American cocaine market due to lower demand and higher law enforcement. As a result, it has created a turf war among trafficking gangs, especially in Mexico, the report said.

The report also showed that cybercrime is endangering the security of nations where power grids, air traffic and nuclear installations have been infiltrated.

With human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants, the report revealed that an estimated 140,000 people became victims of trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation in Europe. This has created a gross annual income of 3 billion U.S. dollars for their exploiters, said the report.

Source: Xinhua


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