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Last Revised:
 10 May, 2000

Centre for International Crime Prevention

[Overview] [The Centre] [Action Orientation] [Commission] [10th Congress] [Contact]

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Introduction
to the Centre for International Crime Prevention

OVERVIEW

Crime is increasing in scope, intensity and sophistication. It threatens the safety of citizens around the world and hampers countries in their social, economic and cultural development. Globalization has provided the environment for a growing internationalization of criminal activities. Multinational criminal syndicates have significantly broadened the range of their operations from drug and arms trafficking to money laundering. Traffickers move as many as 4 million illegal migrants each year generating gross earnings of between 5 and 7 billion US dollars. The detrimental effects of corruption on economies worldwide have been mounting. A corrupt country is likely to achieve aggregate investment levels of almost 5 percent less than a relatively uncorrupt country and to lose about half a percentage point of gross domestic product growth per year.

Member States have recognized that they can only counter international crime successfully, if they cooperate. The Vienna-based UN Centre for International Crime Prevention is collaborating with Member States to strengthen the rule of law, to promote stable and viable criminal justice systems in post-conflict societies, and to combat the growing threat of transnational organized crime.

THE CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL CRIME PREVENTION

The United Nations has acknowledged the importance of crime prevention and criminal justice since its early days. In 1948, it set up its first office fighting international crime.

Today, the Centre for International Crime Prevention is the United Nations office responsible for crime prevention, criminal justice and criminal law reform. It pays special attention to combatting transnational organized crime, corruption and illicit trafficking in human beings.

The Centre is part of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, headed by Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Pino Arlacchi. It employs about 15 professional staff members, plus support personnel. In addition, the Centre cooperates with a network of international and regional institutions allowing for a more comprehensive approach and an exchange of expertise when dealing with such issues as organized crime, money laundering and drug control.

FIGHTING CRIME WITH AN ACTION-ORIENTED PROGRAMME

The Centre defines and promotes internationally recognized principles in such areas as independence of the judiciary, protection of victims, alternatives to imprisonment, treatment of prisoners, police use of force, mutual legal assistance and extradition. More than 100 countries worldwide have relied on these standards for the elaboration of national legislation and policies in matters of crime prevention and criminal justice, leading to a common foundation for the fight against international crime that is respectful of human rights and the needs of individuals.

The Centre promotes the fundamental principles of the maintenance of the rule of law through integrated national, regional and interregional policies. Technical cooperation encompasses:

  • Strengthening the capacity of Governments to reform legislation and criminal justice systems;
  • Establishing institutions and mechanisms for the detection, investigation, prosecution and adjudication of various types of crimes;
  • Upgrading the skills of criminal justice personnel.

The technical cooperation activities of the Centre focus on three areas: anti-corruption, illicit trafficking in human beings, and control of organized crime. Particular attention is devoted to post-conflict situations, to developing countries, and to countries with economies in transition.

The Centre, jointly with its research arm, the United Nations Interregional Criminal Justice and Research Institute in Rome, has prepared proposals for three global programmes addressing topical concerns of the international law enforcement and justice community.

The Global Programme against Corruption will provide technical cooperation to a selection of developing and transitional countries. In these countries an analysis will be made of current problems and policies. Assistance given will include the introduction of mechanisms to monitor public sector tendering and commercial transactions for the promotion of anti-corruption measures.

The Global Programme against the Trafficking in Human Beings addresses trafficking in human beings, especially women and children. In a selection of countries, field-projects will be carried out to test promising strategies, such as new structures for collaboration between police, immigration, victims' support and the judiciary, both within countries and internationally (linking countries of origin to destination countries).

The third programme, entitled Assessing Transnational Organized Crime Groups: Dangerousness and Trends will assess organized crime groups across the world, focussing on forecasting future developments and strategies of such groups in order to facilitate the formulation of pre-emptive responses.

In addition, the United Nations intends to publish a biennial World Organized Crime Report which presents many of the findings of the projects described above.

  • Research and Analysis

In cooperation with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the Centre promotes research and studies new and emerging forms of crime. It assists in the upgrading of national capacities in collecting, analysing and using criminal justice data through the application of modern information technologies. Specifically, the Centre maintains the Internet-based United Nations Crime and Justice Information Network (UNCJIN ), a substantial database which includes crime statistics, publications, and links to the United Nations agencies and other research organizations and universities.

The Convention, on the basis of a common agenda and the shared goals of the international community, will enable Member States to fight the various aspects of international organized crime more effectively. It will provide the legal framework for harmonizing different legal systems and stress the importance of a legally binding instrument to overcome the problems traditionally associated with international cooperation and mutual assistance. Three Protocols to the Convention address the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, the illegal trafficking in and transport of migrants, and the international trafficking in women and children. The Convention will be submitted for adoption to the Millennium United Nations General Assembly in the year 2000.

THE COMMISSION ON CRIME PREVENTION AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Centre supports the work of intergovernmental bodies which set out an international strategy and measures to prevent crime and promote stable criminal justice systems. The Commission, composed of 40 Member States of the United Nations, provides guidance to the Centre by formulating international policies and coordinating activities in crime prevention and criminal justice. Implementation of policy set by the Commission is the responsibility of the Centre. The Commission offers a forum for Governments to exchange information and establish mechanisms to fight crime on a global level. In addition, the Commission is organizing periodic Congresses on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

THE TENTH CRIME CONGRESS:
Vienna,  10-17 APRIL 2000

From 10 to 17 April 2000, the Centre will host the Tenth United Nations Congress in Vienna. This meeting with the theme "Crime and justice, meeting the challenges of the 21st century" will assemble hundreds of high-level representatives of Governments, academia, non-governmental organizations, and media.

The Congress will discuss:

  • How to promote the rule of law and to strengthen the criminal justice system
  • International cooperation in combatting transnational organized crime: new challenges in the twenty-first century
  • Effective crime prevention: keeping pace with the new developments
  • Offenders and victims: accountability and fairness in the justice process

In addition, four workshops will be held on combatting corruption, crimes related to the computer network, community involvement in crime prevention, and women in the criminal justice system.

The Congress will adopt a declaration embodying the conclusions and recommendations of Member States and setting out an international agenda in crime prevention and criminal justice at the beginning of the new millennium. The declaration will capture the essence of the work carried out over many years and set out specific key commitments for the future that should reflect a vision for the future work of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme and of national governments.

MORE INFORMATION

Information on the work of the Centre can be obtained by contacting:

Centre for International Crime Prevention
United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention
P.O. Box 500
A-1400 Vienna
AUSTRIA

Tel: 43-1-26060-4269
Fax: 43-1-26060-5898
Cable Address: UNATIONS VIENNA
Telex: 135612

Additional information can be obtained at the following web site: http://www.uncjin.org

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