Strengthening the Rule of Law and Combating Crime

Posted by Alyce Ahn
May 2, 2012
21st Session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna

Combating violence against migrants and migrant smuggling, setting minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners, and ensuring access to legal aid -- these are among the challenges that the international community addressed last week in Vienna, Austria, where approximately 800 delegates representing 111 countries and 38 nongovernmental organizations gathered for the 21st session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (also known as the CCPCJ or Crime Commission).

Led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Brian Nichols, the U.S. delegation played a leading role throughout the week in molding 11 resolutions adopted by consensus. For example, the United States worked closely with Turkey to sponsor jointly a resolution on "Promoting efforts to eliminate violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families" (the theme for this year's CCPCJ). Twenty-eight additional countries from across the UN's regional groupings co-sponsored the resolution. Among other provisions, this resolution condemns criminal acts -- including acts motivated by racism -- against migrants, migrant workers, and their families, and encourages Member States that have not already done so to enact legislation and take other appropriate measures to combat international smuggling of migrants.

The United States co-sponsored resolutions on: statistics on crime and criminal justice, authored by Mexico; the rule of law and the reform of criminal justice institutions, proposed by Thailand; international cooperation to address the links that may exist between transnational criminal activities and terrorist activities, offered by Colombia; and the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, submitted jointly by South Africa and Georgia. All these resolutions and more can be found here.

The United States also hosted a side event on the crime-terror nexus and co-hosted a side event with Turkey and the UN on the Global Counter Terrorism Forum. A broad, diverse group of representatives from Member States and civil society attended both events.

Created in 1992 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Crime Commission is one of the governing bodies of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and guides UN activities in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. The Crime Commission also shapes the quinquennial UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (or "Crime Congress"), one of the major UN conferences and the only one to draw together leading experts from member states, academia, and civil society. Last week's CCPCJ adopted a resolution that provides a roadmap to the 2015 Crime Congress to be held in Doha, Qatar.

The resolutions adopted at this CCPCJ promise to strengthen the impact of UNODC's work and further the UN's synergistic approach to promoting crime prevention and criminal justice.

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