Marking the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the importance of justice to prevent conflict, promote peace and security, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I am proud of the support UNODC provides to countries to tackle the interlinked problems of drugs, organised crime, terrorism and corruption,” Guterres said in a video message at a special event to commemorate the agency’s anniversary.
In his message, the UN chief applauded the work and commitment of the agency’s staff and reaffirmed his support for UNODC.
Headquartered in the Austrian capital, Vienna, UNODC is mandated with assisting UN member states in the fight against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. It was established in 1997 through a merger between the then UN Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention. Its work is translated to the field level in all regions of the world through an extensive network.
In a keynote address, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedetov said the anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on changes, acknowledge challenges and renew UNODC’s commitment to strengthen future co-operation.
“We have come a long way in these past 20 years now we have conventions and instruments ratified by nearly every country in the world,” he said.
Fedotov recounted benefits brought by globalization but said the world continued to grapple with persisting problems due to what he said was “asymmetric globalisation,” leaving many behind, undermining trust and creating instability.
In particular, he warned of a growing nexus between transnational organised crime and terrorism that encourages cultural property trafficking and generates funds for terrorists.
“Cybercrime has emerged as a truly borderless threat. Use of the dark net for drug trafficking is growing by leaps and bounds and cryptocurrencies provide new avenues for moving and laundering criminal proceeds, straining the knowledge and capacities of law enforcement agencies to keep up,” he said.
The UNODC chief also spoke on the importance of the partnership between the UN agency and the private sector and civil society in the areas of drug prevention, anti-corruption initiatives, education and promoting fair play in sports.
“So on this twentieth anniversary of UNODC, in these transformative times, I urge Member States and all our partners to commit to working together and providing the needed resources to advance our efforts to address crises, achieve the SDGs and build safer, more secure societies,” he said.