Statement by Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, Chair of the 26th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) at the High Level General Assembly Debate on Transnational Organized Crime

Mr. President, Your Royal Highness, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to be given this valuable opportunity to speak at this High Level General Assembly Debate in my capacity as Chair of the 26th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), which met four weeks ago from 22nd to 26th of May in Vienna.
On the 23rd of May, the second day of the Commission, I opened the plenary with the following:
“Every day marks an anniversary or a commemorative day of one form or another in our long history, but I cannot begin today’s deliberations without recalling the great contributions and sacrifice of Judge Giovanni Falcone, who passed away on this particular day 25 years ago.”
  1. Transnational organized crime is developing in its nature
Since his tragic death, the international community has made great efforts to combat transnational organized crime. However, much remains to be done. As the recent attacks in Manchester, Kabul, and Teheran show, challenges have become more serious and even more difficult to address. Allow me to mention some of the recent alarming trends.
First, demarcation line between transnational organized crime and terrorism has blurred. Conventional wisdom tends to place criminals and terrorists into different categories. However, one of the emerging issues is the nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism. Recent trends indicate that there is a strong convergence between them. Terrorist groups engage either directly or indirectly in transnational organized crimes, such as illicit trafficking, money-laundering, kidnapping for ransom, and more, for financial gain, while criminals employ terrorist tactics, including the systematic use of violence, to achieve their objectives.
Second, modern technologies facilitate wrong-doings. The use of new information technologies assist recruitment of members and allow illicit actors to easily obtain capacity to commit serious crimes.
Third, magnitude of their harm seems to be growing considerably. According to one recent survey, annual retail value of illicit crime markets is estimated to amount to between 1.6 trillion and 2.2 trillion US dollars. This would be equivalent to between 2% and 2.8% of global GDP in 2014.
  1. Measures against this trend
So, how can we deal with this situation? This is a key issue we have to address, as it involves the governance of the international community. If we describe the 20th century as a century of ideological confrontations, the 21st century, now, could be seen as a century of confrontations between viable effective governance and illicit activities of crime and violence.
In its fight against transnational organized crime, the international society has come up with various policy response tools such as legal instruments, international cooperation, capacity building and support for law enforcement.
The question in front of us is the following: Faced with a serious evolution of transnational organized crime, how can the international society respond to this growing threat?
  This is still an open question. However, I am convinced of the need to make the fullest use of each of the policy response tools I mentioned earlier. I am also certain that, in this context, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), which was elaborated after the death of Judge Falcone and can be regarded as his legacy, can play a central role in maximizing the merits and effectiveness of this toolbox. In the discussion of the CCPCJ, I was encouraged to hear Member States voice its continued commitments for the full implementation and the necessity to take stock of progress made. The most recent development in Japan, namely Diet approval of the bill to enable the ratification of this convention is also a reassuring event in this regard.
  1. Concluding Remarks
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
The 26th session of the CCPCJ last month in Vienna was the record-making biggest gathering with some 1,200 participants and nearly 100 side-events. This shows, on one hand, the growing threat of transnational organized crime and other related issues. However, it also reflects our determination in strengthening international efforts and commitments to combating this serious menace.  
For now, keeping in mind Judge Falcone’s arduous efforts to tackle transnational organized crime, we need to take steps forward and further enhance inter-institutional cooperation among New York, Vienna and elsewhere. In doing so, we should endeavor to integrate an effective crime prevention and criminal justice system into a wider UN Agenda, particularly the 2030 Agenda. I hope this debate will make a considerable contribution in this regard.
Thank you.