The United Nations (and its predecessors) have been fighting financial crime for over a century – Lessons learned and how to evolve the UN’S approach and the FATF’s too.

For more than 100 years, concern around crime and its international nature has been identified and responses to it are still being proposed. For 70 years, The United Nations has played a significant part in identifying and urging Member States to agree instruments to tackle many of the main crime types, including drugs, organised crime corruption, terrorism, human trafficking, people smuggling, arms trafficking, wildlife trade for endangered species and even recently attempting to do so on cybercrime. Before that the League of Nations was less interested but still focussed on drugs. slavery and refugees.

With a lot of the worlds focus very much on Money Laundering, including Terrorism Finance and Proliferation Finance, and to some extent Corruption, the United Nations and its agencies appear relatively diminished, and in the shadows, as do their leaders, underfunded and insufficiently resourced to really perform the roles originally intended. 

We wont tackle serious crimes with an international dimension, without genuine international support and co operation. Important structures already exist and have been created at the United Nations, with histories dating back even further in some cases. The conventional approach to tackling international issues involves the UN and its organs including the many commissions, committees, and agencies. That they still play an important role in the international fight against drugs and crime can be debated, but in their absence a bigger void would exist. 

In this article the role of the UN in supporting international standards and norms on combating drugs and crime is explored, focussing on the CND, the CCPCJ, the DTA, the SGB, the UNODC under the umbrella of ECOSOC, which focuses on ESE (Economic, Social & Environment), as well as on the INCB and UNICRI. 

As a result the author has had to revise prior held opinions that absent the financial action task force on money laundering, terrorism finance and proliferation finance (FATF), there was no clear international lead on tackling serious financial crimes. The answer is more complex. The UN has long been mandated in these areas and has taken the lead on and is responsible through its agencies in creating and acting as guardians for the international treaties agreed and adopted. These cover drugs, organised crime, corruption, arms trafficking, people smuggling, child exploitation, human trafficking, terrorism finance, and may soon include a new treaty on cybercrimes and wildlife crime, BUT they do not represent an international task force, and crucially they have little powers of monitoring and cant apply effective consequences.  They also include money laundering (as per the Vienna Drugs Convention which includes ML and later regarding TF) but they have clearly allowed the FATF to dominate this space and defer to it. The Transnational Organised Crime Convention  came into being through work largely from the G7 countries who generated another 40 recommendations which found their way into the Palermo Convention but this time for some reason no dedicated task force on organised crime was created. This has been the norm for all conventions at the UN which have resulted in many Member States signing up but patchy implementation the result, and weak monitoring and almost no counter measures. This “conventional” approach via the UN, through its Member States have seen limited international progress achieved and potential effective leadership thwarted.

It may be that those involved in proposing an approach outside of the UN, using soft law rather than hard, to tackle money laundering saw an opportunity to do things differently but since then, actions have reverted to type. Whilst international agreements are very valuable, they are not enough. At the same time whilst the FATF, takes most of the limelight and attention, it also has its critics, though it has undoubtedly been a much more effective champion of combatting money laundering (including terrorism finance and proliferation finance) than the UNODC and other UN  agencies have been in promoting tacking specific serious crimes, internationally. 

Conclusion

Whilst their is an argument to be made that what is needed now is for their to be a Financial Action Task Force on Financial Crime, Fraud and Money Laundering (Including Terrorism and Proliferation Finance) and not just on ML, with monitoring powers and the ability to apply consequential measures, their is also an argument that the current FATF approach should first evolve and consider 3 important adaptations before this approach is accepted. 

  • First, as FATF standards do not take into consideration sufficiently the financial crime threat posed and the capacity challenges to apply minimum high standards, the Global South, for example is unlikely to support further expansion, without material changes to remedy this fundamental weakness, which unfairly targets many of them.
  • Second, the overriding objective of the FATF to protect the integrity of the international financial system has largely been achieved, and a return to the original mandate of reducing financial crime may be a better way forward. Whilst more is needed from a more fragmented and crowded financial system an objective that focusses more on victim protection, harms reduction and particularly reduction in prioritised financial crime and reducing the benefits to criminals from their financial crime activity would be more appropriate. Even better to tie into the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular thos crime related ones in SDG 5, 8,11,14,15 and particularly 16 will positively impact effectiveness in tackling serious crimes in particular: organised crime, arms trafficking, bribery and corruption, terrorism, violent crime, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, environmental crimes and money laundering. This broader focus, will also have the extra benefit of redirecting activity more broadly than just on finance and DNFPBs, including to others in the public and private sectors that need to do more.
  • Third, any new expanded FATF should become more representative but even more expert in its deliberations, with individual Member States relinquishing some influence and turning some of this over to some appointed experts, subject to term limits and oversight. Many countries have benefited for example by increasing expertise and introducing independence with oversight of central bank activity, where more effective results can be achieved. Establishing expert bodies to assist a relaunched FATF, based on examples like the International Narcotics Control Board, and by taking such a quasi independent body of experts to opine of matters of importance, perhaps on evolving threats, the results from monitoring and highlighting examples of effective outcomes that could be shared as best practices could provide significant additional benefits. A clearer role that is more joined up between FATF and agencies such as the UNODC is also important.

These conclusions have been reached in large part due to research and study carried out to look into the 100 year plus progress on combatting financial crime including from the United Nations and predecessor organisations as well as the novel approach to tackle money laundering differently which spawned the FATF 35 years ago, and the experiences and comparisons since.

This conclusion is taken from an extract of remarks made by the author at the Abu Dhabi Finance Week Panel on 29th November, 2023. See HERE.

To learn more about the work of the UN for over 70 years, see below a chronology and then profiles of the most relevant UN Agencies involved in combating Drugs and Crime see below:

According to the UNODC ( (A Century of International Drug Control 1909 -2009), the world produced around 41,000 tonnes of Opium – five times the amount of illicit opium production in 2008 and in 1906, 25 million people were using opium representing 1.5% of the worlds population, albeit this was mostly in China, supplied by foreign imperial powers, for economic gain.

Today, again according to the UNODC (UNODC World Drug Report 2023), with many more illicit drugs freely available, it is estimated that approx 300 million people worldwide used drugs in 2023 an increase of 23% (1 in every 17 people aged between 15 – 64 or 6%) over the previous decade. The number of people that suffer from drug use disorders is also on the increase, rising by 45% over the last 10 years to almost 40 million people (1 in 145 people aged 15 -64 or 0.7%). Of interest in 2006, just 0.25% of the world used opiates.

Illicit drug use has been contained to 5-6% of the worlds population, which to some is a success for a century and more of international drug control policies, with opiates prevalent but at levels much lower than other drug types. These international drug control policies and the agencies that support them, remain central to the international fight to combat illicit drugs. It is not so clear that the international crime initiatives, beyond drugs have had the same effect or have had the same level of support. 

How we got here is set out below:

Over a Century ago

1909 – Amid growing concern about opium use in China, 12 countries (Austria Hungary, China, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Japan, Persia, Portugal, Russia & Siam) met in Shanghai, China and set up the International Opium Commission to discuss the possibilities for imposing international controls on the opium trade for the first time. The delegates resolved – though without committing themselves – to put an end to the practice of smoking opium, restrict its use to medical purposes, and control its harmful by-products. No attempt was made at the time to apply criminal law in this regard.

1912 – This was the background to the first International Opium Convention (The Hague, 1912). This and other later treaties negotiated by the League of Nations (predecessor to the United Nations, 1919-1946) was to curb the excesses of an unregulated system of free trade, imposing restrictions on exports but did not make it obligatory to declare drug use or cultivation illegal, or make these activities a criminal offence. due to the failure to criminalise drug supply and use, the United States and China, withdrew from the negotiations that led to the 1925 International Opium Convention, because they considered its measures to be insufficiently restrictive. On that occasion, the United States was aiming to secure not just the prohibition of drugs, but a ban on the production and non-medical use of alcohol. 

1920 – The League of Nations Advisory Committee on the Traffick in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs was established to focus on the harms from opium in particular, recognising widespread concern of the harmful impacts from these drugs. This was replaced by the International Narcotics Control Board established under the auspices of the UN in 1946 – (see below).

1921 – On 27 June 1921, The Commission for Refugees at the League of Nations was established to look after the interests of refugees, including overseeing their repatriation and, when necessary, resettlement. At the end of the First World War, there were two to three million ex-prisoners of war from various nations dispersed throughout Russia; within two years of the commission’s foundation, it had helped 425,000 of them return home. It established camps in Turkey in 1922 to aid the country with an ongoing refugee crisis, helping to prevent the spread of diseases as well as feeding the refugees in the camps. It also established a passport as a means of identification for stateless persons.

1924 – The Temporary Slavery Commission was established by the League of Nations – see 1926 below.

1925 – The International Opium Convention was adopted. See HERE.

1926 – The 1926 Slavery Convention was established by the League of Nations that obliged signatories to eliminate slavery, the slave trade, and forced labor in their territories. It defined slavery as the status or condition of a person over which the powers of ownership are applied; the slave trade as acts involving the capture, selling, or transport of enslaved people; and forced labor as a “condition analogous to slavery” that had to be regulated and eventually stopped. The Slavery Convention was the work of the Temporary Slave Commission, established by the League in 1924, which determined that slavery was widespread in many parts of the world and that its elimination could be aided by an international convention the provisions of which would be binding upon League member states. The convention required signatories to intercept slave traffic in their territorial waters and on ships flying their flag, to assist other states in anti-slavery efforts, and to enact national anti-slavery laws and enforcement mechanisms. However, Article 9 of the convention allowed each signatory to exempt certain of its territories from all or parts of the convention. Britain invoked this exemption for Burma and British India.

1931 – The Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs was adopted in 1931.

1934 – The assassination on 9th October 1934 of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, and Mr Louis Barthou, the French Foreign Minister in Marseilles led to a request to the Council of the League of Nations for an equry into the the circumstances, which in turn led to the passing of a resolution to establish a committee of experts to to study whether international law regarding terrorism and a new convention should be promoted. A Convention would arrive in 1937 – see below

1936 – Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs was adopted.

1937 – The Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism and the Convention for the Creation of an International Criminal Court was agreed in principle in 1937, though it never entered into force. Still the former instrument is significant in that it defined ‘terrorism’ – something which remains controversial to this day – as “[a]ll criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public”.

The Post War

During the interwar years and during the period of the League of Nations, activity on crime was limited. Member States saw crime prevention and criminal justice as internal matters and were hesitant to relinquish any sovereignty to an international body, outside of the drugs concern, with just a Child Welfare Body established to focus mainly on the issue of juvenile delinquency.

1945 – The United Nations was established as a successor to The League of Nations, with a broader mandate as part of the new world order.

1946 – ECOSOC (Economic & Social Council) was established as 1 of 6 UN Agencies (General Assembly, Security Council, International Court Of Justice, the Trusteeship Council 6 the Secretariat headed by the Secretary General). 

1946 – Emerging from the Second World War as the dominant political, economic and military power, the United States was in a better position to forge a new drug control regime (the 1946 Lake Success Protocol and apply the necessary pressure to impose it on other countries in the setting of the United Nations. The political climate enabled the globalisation of prohibitionist anti-drug ideals. Lake Success is a small village in Long Island, New York, USA.

1946 – The UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs was established (CND). The CND assists ECOSOC in supervising the application of the international drug control treaties. The CND took over drug policy making from the League of Nations’ Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs (- see above). The CND would become 1 of 8 functional Commissions of ECOSOC. it became responsible for the UNODC which was established in 1997, alongside the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

1948 – The UN was “entrusted with leadership in promoting international co operation in crime prevention and criminal justice and in making the fullest use of the knowledge and experience of National and international organisations which have an interest and competence in this field”.

1950 – Established a UN Advisory Committee of Experts on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, (which would become the UN Committee on Crime Prevention and Control in 1971, which itself would become the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 1992 – see below).

1955 – the 1st UN Congress on Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice (now held every 5 years, the last Congress was held in Kyoto Japan in 2021). The Congress brings together high level representatives from governments, intergovernmental and non governmental organisations and criminal justice professionals and scholars, to discuss common concerns, share experiences and seek viable solutions to problems related to crime prevention and criminal justice. the Congress would meet every 5 years (the last one held was in 2021 – see below).

1961 – The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, has been amended by the 1972 Protocol; the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971; and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 (- see below). The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 is an international treaty that controls activities of specific narcotic drugs and lays down a system of regulations for their medical and scientific uses; it also established the International Narcotics Control Board -( see below).

1963 – A resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), would lead to the CITES in 1975 (see below).

1968 – The International Narcotics Control Board was established, For more details on the INCB see below

1968 – The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) was established as one of the six research and training institutes of the United Nations, by an ECOSOC resolution, which urged an expansion of UN activities in criminal justice and crime prevention.

The Seventies

1970 – the 4th UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders , held at Kyoto in Japan called for the broadening of social defence planning, more community participation in crime prevention, reductions in the number of imprisoned persons, and greater attention to the needs of youth, to drug abuse and to white collar and organised crime.

1971 – The UN Convention on Drugs (the Protocol) was adopted to limit the diversion and abuse of certain psychotropic substances, such as central nervous stimulants, sedative-hypnotics and hallucinogens, which had resulted in public health and social problems in some countries. The aim was to (i) limit the use of psychotropic substances to medical and scientific purposes and (ii) ensure their availability for those purposes. Also Governments must provide statistical returns on manufacture, imports and exports of psychotropic substances to INCB. In addition, they should provide complementary information on psychotropic substances, based on recommendations of the Economic and Social Council. The controls foreseen under the 1971 Convention together with the additional controls required by the Economic and Social Council have significantly reduced the diversion of psychotropic substances. INCB publishes each year information on the licit movement of psychotropic substances.

1972Efforts at the UN in the 1970s to adopt a comprehensive treaty banning terrorism could not reach any conclusion as they got bogged down in the debate about the underlying causes of terrorism and efforts to distinguish acts undertaken in the ‘struggle for national liberation’. In September 1972, the UN Secretary-General (‘UNSG’) requested the General Assembly (‘UNGA’) to include in its 1972 session an additional agenda item,3 having in mind the increasing incidence of acts of violence directed at national leaders, diplomatic envoys, international passengers and other innocent civilians, which had created an ubiquitous climate of fear. The UNGA adopted the item  and a committee was established to study the matter. The Chairman of the Committee reported that in his view the most difficult question remained that of definition: all Members were in principle prepared to condemn international terrorism, but it appeared impossible to do this without identifying the phenomenon more precisely, and while there was no objection to the idea that the UN should continue to deal with the problem of international terrorism by pursuing an investigation of its causes and of appropriate counter-measures, opinion differed on the precise course to be followed and whether the two aspects of the problem – causes and measures – could be separated. The UNGA decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on International Terrorism consisting of 35 members to consider the subject matter urgently and submit observations, including concrete proposals for an effective solution to the problem. This Committee considered a Draft Convention on the subject, but its work remained inconclusive.

1975 – The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention or CITES is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals from the threats of international trade. It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The convention was opened for signature in 1973 and CITES entered into force on 1 July 1975. Its aim is to ensure that international trade (import/export) in specimens of animals and plants included under CITES, does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. This is achieved via a system of permits and certificates. CITES affords varying degrees of protection to more than 38,000 species. As of April 2022, Secretary-General of CITES is Ivonne Higuero. For more see HERE.

1978 – ECOSOC tried to draft an international treaty mirroring the approach of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which had been passed in 1977 after a wave of corruption scandals laid bare the extent of corruption in international business  transactions involving states.  It quickly became clear, just a year later, that these early global anti corruption efforts were not going anywhere. They were abandoned. The USA who wanted to create a legal level playing field would instead turn to the OECD which in 1989 agreed to work towards combatting so called “illicit payments” the code words used at the time for corrupt payments, which would lead to the OECD Foreign Bribery Convention that was signed in 1997. The UN Corruption Convention would be signed only in 2003 – see below.

The Eighties

1988 – The Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988 is arguably the most prescriptive and punitive of the three drug conventions and is focused on the illicit traffic of the substances under control in the 1961 and 1971 Conventions. Known as the Vienna convention, Its primary aims are increased international law enforcement and stronger domestic criminal legislation. The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, adopted in December 1988 in Vienna, was the first international instrument to address the issue of proceeds of crime, and to require States to establish money laundering as a criminal offence.

On 24th May 1989 the UN passed a resolution on standards and norms on dealing with crime prevention and criminal justice, acknowledged that many states suffer from shortages of human and financial resources, which prevents them from adequately responding to problems related to crime and acknowledge the need for global efforts commensurate with the magnitude of National and transnational crime.

The Nineties

On 14th December 1990, the UN General Assembly invited MS, “to monitor measures designed to reduce the social and economic costs of crime and its negative effects on the development process”.

On 18th December 1991, the UN General Assembly, “emphasised the practical orientation of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme and decided that it should provide MS with practical assistance such as data collection, information and experience sharing and training in order to achieve, in order to achieve the goals of preventing crime and of improving the response to it“.

1991 – The UN General assembly expanded the mandate of the CND to function as the governing body of the UNODC. 

On 30th July 1992 – The UN Commission on Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice was established as 1 of 8 ECOSEC  functional Commissions to replace the UN Committee on Crime Prevention & Control 8 established in 1971, which itself replaced the UN Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders established in 1950 – see above). The UN CCPCJ is one of 2 functional commissions that are responsible for the work of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), alongside the Commission on Narcotics Drugs. For more see below.

1997 – The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was established by the Secretary General, “to enable the organisation to focus and enhance its capacity to address the inter related issues of drug control, crime and international terrorism in all its forms“. The UNODC is jointly governed by the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).

The UNODC describes itself as global leader in the fight against illicit drugs, transnational organised crime, terrorism and corruption, and is the guardian of the UN related conventions, including: the Palermo Convention (Transnational Organised Crime, Human Trafficking, People Smuggling & Arms Trafficking; the Corruption Convention (UNCAC), and the International Drug Control Conventions (1961, 1971 & 1986). The UNODC was created by merging the UN Centre for International Crime Prevention & the UN International Drug Control Programme. 

For more on these agencies see below.

On 30th July 1992, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to strengthen the UN Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice Programme Network, which includes the UNODC plus a number of other agencies as well as other specialised agencies that assist the international community in strengthening co operation in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice, providing  wide variety of services, including exchange of information, research training and public education.

On 17th December 1996 – A resolution by the UN General Assembly was passed to establish an Ad Hoc Committee leading to a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) but a sufficient consensus has not yet been reached for the adoption of the convention. India proposed this convention in 1996. The negotiations remain deadlocked because of differences over the definition of terrorism, for example, what distinguishes a “terrorist organisation” from a ‘liberation movement’? And whether to you exclude activities of national armed forces, even if they are perceived to commit acts of terrorism? If not, how much of this constitutes “state terrorism”.

Although progress on this Convention has stalled, discussions have yielded three separate protocols that aim to tackle terrorism: International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted on 15 December 1997; International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted on 9 December 1999; and International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, adopted on 13 April 2005 – see below.

1997 – The International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, was adopted on 15 December 1997;

1999 – The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, was adopted on 9 December 1999. The Convention requires States Parties to pass domestic legislation criminalising the collection of funds for terrorist activities. As well, persons donating funds to groups which they know to support terrorist activities would also commit an offence. Although “terrorism” is not defined anywhere in the Convention, its meaning is made clear from the description of the activities the Convention aims at combatting.

This Century

2003 – The UN Corruption Convention (UNCAC) was finally adopted in 2003 (after earlier attempts failed starting in 1978 – see above). Whilst the OECD Foreign Bribery Convention 1977 was the main international instrument, following on from the USA Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977, the UNCAC was broader in scope going beyond bribery of foreign public officials and criminalised the many acts of bribery as well as providing for measures for international co operation, including extradition, mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings, asset recovery, and technical assistance. From the initial Treaty negotiations in 2002 & 2003 in Geneva, the politics of UNCAC had been characterised by a split between countries that supported a stronger convention with consistently and timely compliance and those that favoured a softer approach, with substantial national discretion over implementation. As a result some convention provisions are mandatory whereas others are discretionary. The split also resulted in the stalemate over follow up monitoring. It would take until 2009 before an agreement on monitoring of the UNCAC would be agreed and even then its limited. See below in 2009.

2000 – At the start of the new Century, the 8 Millennium Development Goals were set and were expected to be acheieved by 2015. These would be succeeded by 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved between 2015 – 2030 – see below. The 8 Millennium Goals, covered: 1) Eradicate  extreme poverty and hunger, 29 Achieve universal primary education, 3) Promote gender equality and empower women, 4) Reduce child mortality, 5) Improve mental health, 6) Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, 7) Ensure environmental sustainability, & 8) Global partnership for development.

2005 – The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, was adopted on 13 April 2005.

2006 – On 22 December 2006 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 61/252 which further expanded the mandates of the CCPCJ to enable it to function as a governing body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), alongside the Commission on Narcotics Drugs and to approve the budget of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund.

2009 – At the Doha UNCAC Conference of the Parties in 2009 an agreement on how to monitor implementation of the Corruption convention was finally agreed. According to then UNODC executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, “this agreement will not end corruption, but it will enable us to measure and fight it“. Under the new mechanism, all States will be monitored every five years to see how they are living up to their obligations. Findings, based on self-assessments and peer reviews by experts, will be compiled in country review reports. The executive summary of these reports will be made public. “From now on, States will be judged by the actions that they take against corruption, not the promises they make,” said Mr. Costa. The country reports will identify gaps in national anti-corruption laws and practices. Strengths and weaknesses will also be revealed by a self-assessment checklist based on new software developed by UNODC. This analysis will enable more effective delivery of technical assistance. Since corruption hurts us all, we must all unite to fight it,” said Mr. Costa who described the Convention against Corruption as “the people’s Convention“. He praised Member States for recognising that “the promotion of a culture of integrity and the prevention of corruption are the responsibilities of all sectors of society”Businesses were urged to align their anti-corruption practices with the Convention. “CEOs: come around the table, and pledge not to cheat – and ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules. Governments have done it, now it’s your turn,” said Mr. Costa.

2012 – The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2012. The purpose was to create a set of global goals, related with the environmental, political and economic challenges that we face as humanity. See below for more.

2014 –  UNCTAD estimated the annual costs to achieving the UN Goals at US$2.5 trillion per year.

2015 – In September 2015 at an historic UN Summit, the UN 17 SDGs were agreed to be achieved during the period 2015-2030, thus replacing the 8 Millennium Development Goals – see above. The SDGs are “a commitment that seeks to address the most urgent problems of the world and they are all interrelated. They are a universal call to action to respond sustainably against the threat of climate change, having a positive impact in the way we manage our fragile natural resources, promoting peace and inclusive societies, to reduce inequalities and contribute to the prosperity of economies.” Since the beginning of the SDGs, they have aimed at the so-called 2030 Agenda, which has provided a model for shared prosperity in a sustainable world, in which all people can lead productive lives, living peacefully and on a healthy planet. The short titles of the 17 SDGs are: No poverty (SDG 1), Zero hunger (SDG 2), Good health and well-being (SDG 3), Quality education (SDG 4), Gender equality (SDG 5), Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), Affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), Reduced inequalities (SDG 10), Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), Climate action (SDG 13), Life below water (SDG 14), Life on land (SDG 15), Peace, justice, and strong institutions (SDG 16), and Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).

2017 – On 6 July 2017, the UN SDGs were made more actionable by a UN General Assembly resolution that identified specific targets for each goal and provided indicators” to measure progress. Most targets are to be achieved by 2030, although some have no end date. Successful implementation of these SDGs, in particular SDG 5, 8,11,14,15 and particularly 16 will positively impact effectiveness in tackling serious crimes in particular: organised crime, arms trafficking, bribery and corruption, terrorism, violent crime, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, environmental crimes and money laundering. in addition, successfully implementing SDG1, SDG 10  & SDG 17 will indirectly impact fighting crime by reducing poverty and inequality which generate increased vulnerabilities and by improving international and other forms of co operation.

2018 – In 2018 progress in meeting the UN SDGs could be better assessed via an online publication SDG-Tracker which was launched in June 2018 and presents data across all available indicators, based at the University of Oxford. The publication has global coverage and tracks whether the world is making progress towards the SDGs. It aims to make the data on the 17 goals available and understandable to a wide audience. The SDG-Tracker highlights that the world was (early 2019) very far away from achieving the goals.

2018 – An estimate by the Basel Institute of Commons and Economics, that conducts the World Social Capital Monitor found that to reach all of the 17 UN SDGs would require between US$2.5 and $5.0 trillion per year.

2019 – Progress in meeting the 17 UN SDGs has been assessed via five separate progress reports. Three came from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), one from the Bertelsmann Foundation and one from the European Union.[132][133] A review of the five reports analysed which of the 17 Goals were addressed in priority and which ones were left behind.[134] In explanation of the findings, the Basel Institute of Commons and Economics said Biodiversity, Peace and Social Inclusion were “left behind” by quoting the official SDGs motto “Leaving no one behind.” It has been argued that governments and businesses actively prioritise the social and economic goals over the environmental goals (such as Goal 14 and 15) in both rhetoric and practice.

2019 – In December 2019, the UN passed a resolution which established an open-ended ad hoc committee (AHC) tasked with developing a ‘comprehensive international convention on countering the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for criminal purposes’. The treaty roadmap has six negotiating sessions, three in Vienna and three in New York. Each meeting has addressed different parts of the treaty, including chapters on criminalisation, procedural measures, the role for law enforcement, international cooperation, technical assistance, preventive measures and implementation. For more details see 2022 and 2023 below. 

2020 – The 17 UN SDGs indicator framework was comprehensively reviewed by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 2020. It will be reviewed again in 2025.In 2020 some indicators were replaced, revised or deleted.

2021 – Delayed from 2020 (due to COVID 19), the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice meets every 5 years and was held over 6 days in Kyoto Japan in March 2021). The Congress, “brings together high level representatives from governments, intergovernmental and non governmental organisations and criminal justice professionals and scholars, to discuss common concerns, share experiences and seek viable solutions to problems related to crime prevention and criminal justice”The 14th Crime Congress, was held under the overall theme “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of the  UN 2030 Agenda”, and brought together more than 5,000 participants from all over the world. A record 152 Member States were represented at the Congress along with 114 NGOs, 37 intergovernmental organisations, 600 individual experts and several UN entities and institutes. Most of the participants joined online, via a special event platform, while a limited number of participants attended in person in the Kyoto International Conference Centre. Member States adopted the Kyoto Declaration, under which governments agreed on concrete actions to advance responses addressing crime prevention, strengthening criminal justice and promoting the rule of law and international cooperation, including against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crime Congress has an advisory role vis-à-vis CCPCJ, which then translates the substantive outcome of the Congress, including the single Congress Declaration, into policy action. For more see HERE

2022 – UN Member States have been working since 2019 (see above), on a new international treaty on countering cybercrime which would represent an important step in establishing a global legal framework for international cooperation on preventing and investigating cybercrime, and prosecuting cybercriminals (see 2019 above) . Whilst there is no universally accepted definition of cybercrime. A common approach is to define it in two categories: cyber-dependent crimes and cyber-enabled crimes. Cyber-dependent crimes are crimes that can only be committed by using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). A notorious example is ransomware: hacking into an organisation or individual’s device, encrypting data and demanding payment for decryption. Cyber-enabled crimes are so-called traditional crimes that have been transformed in speed, scale and scope through the use of ICTs, such as online banking scams, identity theft or fraud, and online child sexual exploitation. Over the past 20 years, new technologies and threat actors have evolved at an unprecedented pace. In parallel, there have also been many different national and international efforts to counter the criminal use of ICTs. Victims of cybercrime range from individuals and communities to entire businesses and governments, and reports of losses to victims continue to increase, likely making cybercrimes the fastest growing crime type in the world.  Perpetrators of cybercrime are equally diverse. They range from small-scale scammers to transnational cybercrime gangs and even state-sponsored actors. Cybercriminals often target victims in different national jurisdictions, making cybercrime a global threat with local impact. Organised criminal groups offering cybercrime as a service has also become increasingly common. Against this backdrop, the intended purpose of the treaty is intended to tackle cybercrime and improve cooperation and coordination between states. Negotiations started in early 2022. The treaty roadmap has six negotiating sessions, three in Vienna and three in New York. Each meeting has addressed different parts of the treaty, including chapters on criminalisation, procedural measures, the role for law enforcement, international cooperation, technical assistance, preventive measures and implementation.The treaty process is complex. The draft text is the synthesis of months of negotiations and hundreds of proposed amendments, with nine chapters and over 60 articles.

According to Chatham House, “the main areas of disagreement concern the scope of the treaty, human rights safeguards, how to address gaps in state capacity, how the treaty should harmonise with other instruments, and the relevance of gender to the treaty. It does not address issues like data protection or the role of the private sector and civil society. Similarly, it highlights just some of many terminological disagreements. Some states advocate for a treaty that criminalises cyber-dependent crimes and a broad range of cyber-enabled crimes, including content-based offences. On the most extreme side of the spectrum is a group of countries including Russia, Belarus, China, Nicaragua and Cuba, whose proposals have included highly controversial suggestions to criminalise “incitement to subversive or armed activities” and “coercion to suicide” by means of ICTs. China has proposed criminalising the ‘dissemination of false information… that could result in serious social disorder’, while India has advocated for criminalising offences related to ‘cyber terrorism’. Other states – including EU member states, the US, the UK, Japan and Australia – want to include core cyber-dependent crimes and a very limited number of cyber-enabled crimes that have been drastically transformed by digital technologies, the main example of the latter being offences related to child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAM). These states argue that a treaty with a long list of cyber-enabled offences risks being abused or misinterpreted. Approaches to criminalisation also affect the treaty’s overall scope. States in favour of a narrow approach have expressed their willingness to consider more comprehensive agreements on international cooperation and other chapters: for example, using the treaty as a basis to exchange evidence between jurisdictions relating to any crime with a digital evidence component, not just crimes covered by the treaty”. For the most recent update on the state of negotiations see 2023 below.

2023 – The UN Draft Cybercrimes Treaty completed the 6th round of negotiations at the start of September 2023. According to reports governments have yet to reach a consensus on fundamental issues like the treaty’s scope, what constitutes a cybercrime, and what role, if any, human rights should play in its implementation. Nearly four years into the treaty’s development, there is no agreement on whether the treaty should address only computer-related offences, like attacks on computer data or systems, or a larger umbrella of crimes that could restrict online expression. The treaty also proposes international cooperation on electronic evidence gathering for any serious offences – not just cybercrimes identified in the treaty. But some governments oppose applying human rights protections to these cooperation efforts. As a result, each country could define for itself what offences qualify for international cooperation and what safeguards to apply, an approach that could see governments facilitating prosecutions in ways inconsistent with international human rights obligations. On 29th January – 9th February 2024, the concluding session for finalising the Convention will take place. While a new treaty could become a valuable tool in the global effort against cybercrime, it must harmonise with existing international mechanisms and networks that occupy similar spaces, for example the UN conventions against drugs, transnational organised crime and corruption are important parts of existing global responses to transnational crime. The Draft Convention forsees a role for The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs, founded in 1865 to facilitate international connectivity in communications networks, and the allocation of global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. The ITU’s global membership includes 193 Member States as well as some 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organisations. For more on the progress of the convention see HERE.

Key UN Agencies – In More Detail

Fpr more on Key UN Agencies are profiled below, including the ECOSOC, CND, CCPCJ, the UNODC, the Division for Treaty Affairs, the SGB, the quasi independent INCB and UNICRI and their leaders – see below.

The Economic & Social Council 

ECOSOC was established as 1 of 6 UN Agencies (General Assembly, Security Council, International Court Of Justice, the Trusteeship Council & the Secretariat headed by the Secretary General). ECOSOC is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.

ECOSOC links a diverse family of subsidiary bodies and UN entities (Organigram) dedicated to sustainable development, providing overall guidance and coordination. These include regional economic and social commissions, functional commissions facilitating intergovernmental discussions of major global issues, expert bodies establishing important global normative frameworks, and specialized agencies, programmes and funds at work around the world to translate development commitments into real changes in people’s lives.

Building on its coordination role within the UN system, ECOSOC is a gateway for UN partnership and participation by the rest of the world. It offers a unique global meeting point for productive dialogues among policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, foundations, businesses, youth and 3,200+ registered non-governmental organizations.

ECOSOC is the governing body of 8 functional commissions, which inckue the CND and the CCPCJ. ECOSOC is also responsible for the Special Meeting on International Cooperation in Tax Matters which provides an opportunity to address emerging issues of tax policy and administration. 

ECOSOC has a membership made up of 54 rotating States.

ECOSOC holds one four-week session each year in July, and since 1998 has also held an annual meeting in April with finance ministers of heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Additionally, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is convened under the auspices of the Council every July.[4]

The President of the Council is elected for a one-year term and chosen from the small or medium sized states represented on the Council at the beginning of each new session.[5] The presidency rotates among the United Nations Regional Groups to ensure equal representation.[6]

Paula Narváez, Representative of Chile, was elected as the seventy-ninth president of the Council on 27 July 2023. She is the Permanent Representative from Chile to the UN. She succeeded Lachezara Stoeva, from Bulgaria, who was elected as the seventy-eighth president of the Council on 25 July 2022, succeeding Collen Vixen Kelapile of Botswana.

UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs

The CND was established in 1946 to assist in administering international drug control treaties. 

The CND reviews and analyses the global drug situation, considering supply and demand reduction. The CND is mandated to decide on the scope and control of substances under the 3 international drug control conventions (1961, 1971 & 1988). The CND also actively contributes to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 

In 1991, the UN General Assembly expanded the mandate of the CND to function as the governing body of the UNODC and to approve the budget for the Fund of the UN International Drug Control Programme.

In 2009, a Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Co operation Towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, gave CND the mandate to monitor the world drug situation, develop strategies on international drug control, and recommend measures to combat the world drug problem, including through reducing demand for drugs, promoting alternative development initiatives, adopting supply reduction measures, and strengthening international co operation.

In 2014, a joint Ministerial Statement, identified achievments, challenges and priorities for further action by 2019.

In 2019, the CND adopted the 2019 Ministerial Declaration to accelerate the implementation of joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem.

The CND has 53 Member States that are elected via ECOSOC and is chaired by a Bureau, including one member per regional group. the Bureau consists of a Chair, 3 Vice Chairs and a Rapporteur.

The CND has 5 subsidiary bodies: The sub commission on Illicit Drug Traffic in the Near and Middle East and the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific & Africa.

The CND has an annual regular meeting, held in Vienna Austria.

The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The CCPCJ was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution 1992/1, upon request of General Assembly (GA) resolution 46/152, as one of its functional commissions. The Commission acts as the principal policymaking body of the United Nations in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. ECOSOC provided for the CCPCJ’s mandates and priorities in resolution 1992/22, which include, “improving international action to combat national and transnational crime and the efficiency and fairness of criminal justice administration systems. The CCPCJ also offers Member States a forum for exchanging expertise, experience and information in order to develop national and international strategies, and to identify priorities for combating crime“.

The CCPCJ holds annual regular sessions as well as intersessional meetings. Towards the end of each year, the CCPCJ meets at a reconvened session to consider budgetary and administrative matters as the governing body of the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme.

In 2006 the GA adopted resolution 61/252 which further expanded the mandates of the CCPCJ to enable it to function as a governing body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and to approve the budget of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund.

The CCPCJ has 40 member States that are elected by ECOSOC and is chaired by a Bureau, including one member per Regional Group. Members are elected by the Economic and Social Council, with the following distribution of seats among the regional groups:  a) Twelve for African States; (b) Nine for Asian States; c) Eight for Latin American and Caribbean States; d) Four for Eastern European States; e) Seven for Western European and other States. The term of office for Commission Members is three years. The Chair is H.E. Ms. Mary Wangui MUGWANJA of Kenya (Group of African States) 1st Vice-Chair Vacant (Group of Eastern European States) 2nd Vice-Chair H.E. Ms. Laura FAXAS DE JORGENSEN of the Dominican Republic (Group of Latin American and Caribbean States) 3rd Vice-Chair H.E. Mr. Götz Volker Carl SCHMIDT-BREMME of Germany (Group of Western European and Other States) Rapporteur Mr. Jun YAMAZAKI of Japan (Group of Asia-Pacific.

The UN Commission on Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice was established as 1 of 8 ECOSEC  functional Commissions to replace the UN Committee on Crime Prevention & Control 8 established in 1971, which itself replaced the UN Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders established in 1950 – see above). The UN CCPCJ is one of 2 functional commissions that are responsible for the work of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), alongside the Commission on Narcotics Drugs. the UN recognised, “the Commission as the principal policy making body of the UN in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice and requests it to co ordinate relevant activities in this field. Requests the Commission to also coordinate with other UN bodies including for example the UN Commissions on Human Rights, and on Narcotic Drugs. Priorities for 1992-1996; National and Transnational Crime, Organised Crime, economic crime including money laundering and the role of criminal law int he protection of the environment; crime prevention in urban areas, juvenile and violent criminality, efficiency effectiveness and fairness in the management and administration of criminal justice” and “agreed that the international community through through bilateral or multilateral arrangements should provide MS, at their request with necessary assistance in order to contribute to the establishment of the infrastructure required for crime prevention and criminal justice“. See: https://www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CCPCJ/ECOSOC_Resolution-1992-22_E.pdf 

The CCPCJ is the preparatory body to the United Nations Crime Congresses. Held every five years, the Congress is the world’s largest forum bringing together policymakers, practitioners, academia, intergovernmental organisations and representatives of civil society active in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. Declarations adopted by the congresses are transmitted through the CCPCJ and the ECOSOC to the GA for endorsement. For example the 14th Crime Congress held in 2021 in Kyoto in Japan, issued a Kyoto Declaration, endorsed by the CCPCJ, which has since been adopted by the General Assembly and is the basis for the current focus of the CCPCJ and the UNODC. The Commission endorsed a multi-year workplan for the intersessional thematic discussions, which follows the four pillars of the declaration, (PILLAR I Advancing crime prevention; PILLAR II Advancing the criminal justice system; PILLAR III Promoting the rule of law; and PILLAR IV Promoting international cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and address all forms of crime), with each thematic discussion focusing on one thematic pillar of the declaration.

See: https://www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CCPCJ/Crime_Resolutions/2020-2029/2021/CCPCJ_report_2021_chapter_1_en.pdf

The CCPCJ actively contributes to the implementation of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, as sustainable development and the mandates of the Commissions are strongly interrelated and mutually reinforcing. 

The current Chair of the CCPCJ is Mary Wangui Mugwanja of Kenya, was appointed as the new Permanent Representative of Kenya ro the UN (Vienna) on 11 October, 2022. Ms. Mugwanja holds a Bachelor of Science in leadership and management from Strathmore University. Ms. Mugwanja speaks English and Swahili.

During her career, Ms. Mugwanja has served in various capacities, among them: County Executive Committee Member, Transport, Energy and Public Works, County Government of Nyandarua, Kenya (2020-2022); County Executive Committee Member, Finance and Economic Development, County Government of Nyandarua, Kenya (2017–2022); Senior Business Growth & Development Manager, Equity Bank of Kenya (2012-2017); Business Growth & Development Manager, Equity Bank of Kenya 2009-2012); Business Development Manager, Barclays Bank of Kenya (2008-2009); Senior Branch Manager, Barclays Bank of Kenya (2007-2008); Branch Manager, Barclays Bank of Kenya (2005-2007); Prestige Manager, Barclays Bank of Kenya (2001-2004).

Current & Future Members of the CCPCJ (2023/2024)

The UN Office for Drugs and Crime.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is 26 years old, coming into being in 1997. The UNODC describes itself as, a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime, in addition to being responsible for implementing the United Nations lead programme on terrorism”. Established in 1997, UNODC has approximately 500 staff members worldwide. Its headquarters are in Vienna and it operates 20 field offices, as well as liaison offices in New York and Brussels.

Also, “UNODC works to educate people throughout the world about the dangers of drug abuse and to strengthen international action against illicit drug production and trafficking and drug-related crime. To achieve those aims, UNODC has launched a range of initiatives, including alternatives in the area of illicit drug crop cultivation, monitoring of illicit crops and the implementation of projects against money laundering. UNODC also works to improve crime prevention and assist with criminal justice reform in order to strengthen the rule of law, promote stable and viable criminal justice systems and combat the growing threats of transnational organised crime and corruption“.

Following the Kyoto Declaration in 2021 (from the 14th Crime Congress) the workplan for 2021 – 2024 for the UN Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice supported by the UNODC was to hold additional expert meetings and to summarise findings considering details regarding 4 pillars of work. Pillar 1: Advancing Crime Prevention: Addressing the causes, including the root causes, of crime; Evidence-based crime prevention; Addressing the economic dimension of crime; Tailor-made crime prevention strategies; Mainstreaming a gender perspective into crime prevention; Children and youth in crime prevention; & Youth empowerment for crime prevention; Pillar 2 Advancing Criminal Justice: Safeguarding victims’ rights and protecting witnesses and reporting persons; Improving prison conditions; Reducing reoffending through rehabilitation and reintegration; Mainstreaming a gender perspective into criminal justice systems; Addressing the vulnerabilities of children and youth in contact with the criminal justice system; Improving criminal investigation processes. Pillar 3 Promoting the Rule of Law: Access to justice and equal treatment before the law; Access to legal aid;
– National sentencing policies; Effective, accountable, impartial and inclusive institutions; Effective anti-corruption efforts; & Social, educational and other measures. & Pillar 4: Promoting International Co operation and Technical Assistance: 
International cooperation, including through capacity-building and technical assistance; International cooperation to deprive criminals of their proceeds of crime; Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; & New, emerging and evolving forms of crime.

The UNODC supports Member States through technical work including sharing best practices including in training but also through technical publications. See HERE.

Ghada Fathi Waly is the Director-General/ Executive Director of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV)/ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) since 1 February 2020, following her appointment by Secretary-General António Guterres. She holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. She succeeded Yury Fedotov (2010 -2020) from the Russian Federation.

Ms. Waly’s work experience includes 28 years in the field of poverty reduction and social protection. She served as Minister of Social Solidarity of Egypt from March 2014 until December 2019. She also served as the Coordinator of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Social Justice and chaired the Executive Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs in the League of Arab States from 2014 to 2019. She was the Chairperson of Nasser Social Bank, a pro-poor developmental financial institution. She chaired the boards of the National Center for Social and Criminology Research, the National Fund for Drug and Addiction Control and the National Authority of Pensions and Social Insurance, which serves 25 million Egyptians.

Prior to that, she held leadership positions as Managing Director of Social Fund for Development (SFD), a multimillion-dollar SME Fund, and as Assistant Resident Representative for poverty reduction at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), where she was responsible for coordinating the Millennium Development Goals reports and launched the National Strategy for Micro Finance. She was also Program Director of CARE International in Egypt, working in the field of poverty alleviation, and Chairperson of the Red Crescent Association.

Ghada Waly holds an MA and a BA from Colorado State University (US) in Humanities; she also holds a diploma in international development and a diploma in Project Management and is certified in Micro Finance from University of Colorado Boulder. She is fluent in Arabic, English and French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

The Executive Director heads 4 main organisations units: 1) The Division for Operations, responsible for the field offices; 2) The Division of Treaty Affairs (John Bartilino), Division  for Public Analysis and Public affairs & 5) Division for Public Management. 

The Division of Treaty Affairs is made up of 3 sections; 1) Organised Crime & Illicit Trafficking; 2) Corruption and economic Crime, 3) Terrorism Prevention, 4) SGB (see below) & 5) Secretariat to the INCB

The Key focus areas of the UNODC are set out below.

The current Head of the UNODC Division for Treaty Affairs (DTA) is John Brandolino. The  UN Division for Treaty Affairs (DTA), is the main contact point for Member States on matters pertaining to the work and the competence of the Commissions and acts as an interface between the Commissions, their subsidiary bodies and UNODC. The DTA houses the SGB which also coordinates the organisational and substantive preparations for the quinquennial United Nations Congresses on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and supports the CND & the CCPCJ – see below.

The Secretariat to the Governing Bodies 

The SGB provides substantive, technical and organisational support to both the CND and the CCPCJ. It services the regular and reconvened sessions of the Commissions, by coordinating the preparation and drafting of pre-session and in- session documentation and by facilitating the deliberations in plenary and the negotiations of draft resolutions in the Committees. The side events held during the regular sessions of the Commissions are also coordinated by SGB. SGB also supports the Chairs, the Bureaux and Extended Bureaux of the Commissions and advises them on substantive, procedural and organisational matters during the sessions as well as in the intersessional period. SGB also supports the work of CCPCJ, which is the preparatory and implementing body for the quinquennial United Nations Congresses on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. 

The current Chief of the Secretariat to the Governing Bodies is Ms. Jo Dedeyne-AmannThe SGB is embedded in the UN Division for Treaty Affairs (DTA). The SGB is a small team of dedicated staff members, whose Chief also acts as Secretary of CND, CCPCJ and the United Nations Crime Congresses and who leads and coordinates the work of the team. 

International Narcotics Control Board

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent, quasi-judicial expert body established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 by merging two bodies: the Permanent Central Narcotics Board, created by the 1925 International Opium Convention; and the Drug Supervisory Body, created by the 1931 Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs. INCB has 13 members, each elected by the UN Economic and Social Council for a period of five years. INCB members may be re-elected. Ten of the members are elected from a list of persons nominated by Governments. The remaining three members are elected from a list of persons nominated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for their medical, pharmacological or pharmaceutical experience. Members of the Board shall be persons who, by their expertise, competence, impartiality and disinterestedness, will command general confidence. Once they have been elected, INCB members serve impartially in their personal capacity, independently of Governments.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is required to publish an annual report which provides a comprehensive account of the global drug situation, analyses trends in drug abuse and drug trafficking and suggests necessary remedial action. In addition, the Board publishes a treaty-mandated report on the implementation of article 12 of the 1988 convention, which is entitled “Precursors and chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances”. The Board also publishes technical reports on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances which provide details on estimates of the annual legitimate requirements of each country, as well as data on the licit production, manufacture, trade and consumption of drugs worldwide.

In an effort to achieve the aims of the international drug control treaties, the Board conducts from time to time an evaluation of implementation of the Board’s recommendations published in its annual reports. The evaluations are conducted on the basis of information received from the countries and territories responding to the questionnaire developed for that purpose, as well as information available to the Board regarding treaty adherence and Governments’ compliance with control measures. Over the years, the Board has invoked article 14 of the 1961 Convention and/or article 19 of the 1971 Convention with respect to a limited number of States. These provisions set out measures that the Board may take to ensure the execution of the provisions of those Conventions. Such measures, which consist of increasingly severe steps, are taken into consideration when the Board has reason to believe that the aims of the Conventions are being seriously endangered by the failure of a State to carry out there provisions. The States concerned are not named until the Board decides to bring the situation to the attention of the parties, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Apart from Afghanistan, which was publicly listed in 2000 and remains listed, the States concerned have taken sufficient remedial measures so that the Board was able to terminate action taken under those articles vis-à-vis those States, without having to publicly name them.

On 10 May 2023, the Board elected Professor Jallal Toufiq as its President and elected a new Bureau for a one-year term

On 10 May, the Board elected Professor Jallal Toufiq as its President and elected a new Bureau for a one-year term.The composition of the Bureau is as follows:

  • Jallal Toufiq – President of the Board
  • César T. Arce Rivas – First Vice-President
  • Zukiswa Zingela – Second Vice-President and Chair of the Standing Committee on Estimates
  • Cornelis P. de Joncheere – Rapporteur

The UN Interregional Crime & Justice Research Institute (UNICRI)

The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) was established as one of the six research and training institutes of the United Nations, by an ECOSOC resolution in 1968, which urged an expansion of UN activities in criminal justice and crime prevention. UNICRI is an autonomous institution and is governed by its Board of Trustees. Today, UNICRIs work, “focusses on Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that is centred on promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies, free from crime and violence. Justice, crime prevention and the rule of law are the basis for fighting poverty and reducing inequalities whilst enhancing economic growth and stability and protecting the environment. 

The Institute’s current priorities include:

  • Artificial intelligence and robotics in the context of crime prevention and criminal justice;
  • Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear risks mitigation;
  • Cyber-crimes;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Environmental crimes;
  • Illicit financial flows and asset recovery;
  • Illicit trafficking in precious metals and gemstones;
  • Juvenile justice;
  • Nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism;
  • Protection of vulnerable populations and victims;
  • Strengthening international criminal law;
  • Tourism and major events security; and
  • Violent extremism (including rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders).

Antonia Marie De Meo is the Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), based in Turin, Italy. She is a citizen of the United States and Italy.

Prior to this position, she served as the Chief of the Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Service at the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Libya (2018-2020). She also served as Chief of Staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) from 2014 to 2017. Ms. De Meo has held senior management positions with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Sri Lanka and Sudan (2011-2014), the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Sudan (2011-2012), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan (2009-2011). She was the Anti-Trafficking and Gender Adviser for the Mission to Moldova of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (2005-2007) and Deputy Registrar of the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina (2000-2003). A trial lawyer by training and a former prosecutor, she commenced her overseas development work for the American Bar Association’s Central and East European Law Initiative in Moldova (1999-2000).

Ms. De Meo holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University, a Juris Doctor degree from Lewis and Clark Law School, and a Bachelor of Art’s degree from Wellesley College. She is admitted to practice law in the States of Oregon and Washington.

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