Held in an innovative hybrid format amid COVID-19 restrictions, the 14th UN Congress on criminal justice opened on Sunday in Kyoto with calls for renewing global cooperation against crime to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recover from the pandemic.
“Crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law have a key role in renewing the social contract between states and their populations,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his address, delivered live from New York.
Highlighting the importance of the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in tackling challenges arising from the global pandemic, the UN chief said the forum’s agenda this year targets the responses needed to strengthen crime prevention and criminal justice in the current crisis.
These included comprehensive crime prevention strategies to underpin social and economic development; integrated responses to shore up criminal justice systems, and revitalized international cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and address all forms of crime.
Mr. Guterres stressed that the disruption caused by ongoing coronavirus pandemic was presenting criminals with new opportunities to exploit the marginalized and at risk.
Fight against all forms of crime priority for government of Serbia
Participating in the video link at the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which is being held in Kyoto, minister of Foreign Affairs od Serbia Nikola Selakovic pointed out that this is our moral obligation, in order to leave a better world behind us for generations.
He pointed out that our country has timely established the normative and institutional framework which regulated the prevention of abuse in that area, as well as that the Special Prosecutor’s Office for High-Tech Crime, a special court department and a special police unit have been established.
As Selakovic emphasised, Serbia is guided by the postulates of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption in the fight against corruption.
The head of Serbian diplomacy singled out the efforts of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, as an independent state body, in protecting the public interest, building individual and institutional integrity, strengthening transparency and accountability of public administration.
“We face profound choices. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to address the grave injustices and inequalities that have plagued societies for generations,” he said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that a “safe and secure” society is a precondition for achieving social and economic recovery.
“The international community need to work together to strengthen efforts in crime prevention and ensure a criminal justice system that is fully functional even amidst the COVID-19 crisis,” he stressed, adding that Japan valued multilateralism and was determined to demonstrate its strong leadership in building a post-COVID-19 international order.
The Congress opening also featured statements from Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Prosecutor-General Makoto Hayashi, as well as from the President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Munir Akram and the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly.
Mr. Bozkir, in a pre-recorded statement, said: “Make no mistake. We will not achieve the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development if we do not take action on the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice.”
The track to 2030 is already more difficult as the world contends with the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, he explained, adding: “We cannot allow crime, to derail us further. In this Decade of Action, we need to improve governance, strengthen the rule of law, and promote effective and accountable institutions of criminal justice.”
In his pre-recorded remarks, Mr. Akram said: “There is a compelling case for enhanced international action to combat and dismantle networks and platforms that perpetrate these crimes and undermine progress towards 2030 Agenda.”
As such, he hoped the Kyoto Congress could prioritize certain key issues: the bleeding of the resources of developing countries through illicit financial flows; environmental crimes and ever-growing illegal trade in wildlife; changes in labour and migration laws to cut demand for the services of human traffickers; and effective action against falsified and fake medical products, such as COVID-19 vaccines.
In the week ahead
Discussions will continue until Friday, 12 March, in the formal proceedings as well as dozens of special events and ancillary meetings hosted on the hybrid event platform, which will address topics ranging from addressing corruption to tackle wildlife crime and gender dimensions of counter-terrorism, to the impact of COVID-19 in prison settings, addressing children associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups, and youth as agents for change to promote the rule of law.