Global Policy Forum

UN Fights to Prevent Organised Crime

UN News
January 31, 2001

Money laundering worldwide involves roughly $1 trillion every year, with $300-$500 billion related to drug trafficking, the head of the United Nations drug control office told an international conference on transnational crime today in Tokyo.

Addressing the Asia-Pacific Law Enforcement Conference against Transnational Organized Crime (ODCCP), Pino Arlacchi, the Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, said money laundering represented an estimated 2-5 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.

Other forms of organized crime have also "gone beyond what governments and the general public are prepared to accept," Mr. Arlacchi said. Trafficking in humans, now the fastest growing type of international crime, involves 1 million women and children every year, in addition to the 4 million migrants smuggled annually. Corruption is equally rampant, with the World Bank estimating the total funds stolen by Nigeria's leaders to be $106 billion over the 1986-1999 period - or the country's gross domestic product for a period of two years.

According to Mr. Arlacchi, the recently adopted UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime - known as the Palermo Convention - is a powerful weapon in combating the blight. The new treaty, he said, will help overcome "bureaucratic inertia and different judicial systems, laws and regulations which stand in the way of better cooperation" among law enforcement officials.

"The Palermo Convention is an instrument which is guided by some of the best crime-fighting practices around the world," he said, noting that one of the treaty's major breakthroughs is the agreement to criminalize the simple participation in an organized criminal group, whether or not the individual actually carried out a crime personally. Mr. Arlacchi urged all countries to ratify the Convention, as well as its protocols related to the protection of victims.

During his stay in Tokyo, the UN official also made a presentation on the World Drug Report 2000 and met with a series of Japanese government officials.

ODCCP is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime. Established in 1997, the agency consists of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the UN Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP).

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