Global Issues: Austria & Czech Republic/Case Reports/ODCCP

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Organizations Case Report: Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP)/ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Overview/History[edit | edit source]

The Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has undergone several name changes since its inception in 1997, most recently in 2002 the ODCCP changed its name to its current name, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). For purposes of this case study the ODCCP will be refereed to as UNODC. The mission of UNODC revolves around "the three pillars of the UNODC work programme."

  1. Research and analysis to enhance understanding of crime and drug issues and provide useful data for policy makers.
  2. Assist member states in ratification and implementation of international treaties and assist with local law procedures related to drugs, crime, and terrorism.
  3. Provide useful field based assistance to member states to reduce drugs, crime, and terrorism.

The official mandate of UNDOC is to assist member states in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime, and terrorism. At the center of UNODC's mission is reform of the criminal justice system to bring about a system that is more effective and humane. UNODC is headquartered in Vienna, Austria and based in the Vienna International Center which opened in January 1, 1980. This is also the base of operations for the United Nations of Vienna (UNOV). UNOV is the third largest headquarters of the UN behind New York City and Geneva, Switzerland of the four worldwide headquarters. UNODC employs almost five hundred workers in Vienna, its 23 worldwide field offices, and at the UN offices in New York. The membership of the UNODC is comprised of member states that make up the UN.

The Executive Director of UNODC is Antonio Maria Costa of Italy, who also serves as the Director-General of UNOV. Director Costa has placed special emphasis on organized crime as a threat to global security and democratic stability in UNODC's mission to diminish drugs, crime, and terrorism worldwide. In Costa's remarks on the 2010 World Drug Report he stated "strengthen integrity tackles the corruption that enables crime. Promoting justice prevents criminals from operating with impunity. Improving health prevents the spread of drug addiction and blood-borne diseases-particularly in the developing world. And cutting criminal networks disrupts a range of illicit activities that carve out paths of death and destruction through some of the worlds most fragile regions."

Recently, UNODC's Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice met in Vienna from May 17 to May 21, 2010 to discuss new criminal justice challenges around the world. Among the new emerging threats discussed were the problems of cybercrime, trafficking in cultural artifacts, and treatment of female prisoners. The commission put forward two resolutions to strengthen UNODC work with "public-private partnerships to counter crime" and efforts to curb human trafficking, piracy off the coast of Somalia, and form networks of cooperation. The second resolution calls for greater cooperation to curb criminal activity at the South Korean hosted 2011 World Summit of Prosecutors General, Attorneys General, and Chief Prosecutors.

Local Significance[edit | edit source]

The local significance of UNODC being located in Vienna, Austria is recognition of Vienna's importance as a world capital. Stability and an understanding of humanitarian issues provide an environment and location suitable for the mission of UNODC. While crime recently has been on the rise in Austria, overall crime occurs at a low rate in comparison to many counties. Much of Austria's crimes are crimes of opportunity, for example pick pocketing or theft of personal property. Violent crime, organized crime and terrorist activity remain at some of the lowest levels in Europe. Also, the training, expertise, and effectiveness of Austria's police force compares favorably to police departments in large US cities. These factors contribute to the image of Vienna as a place where global crime and drug issues can be discussed and global projects aimed at real solutions can be launched.

The Czech Republic also has a fairly low overall rate of crime. Petty theft crimes are the most frequently encountered crimes and are focused on key tourist areas of Prague such as Wenceslas Square, the Charles Bridge, and Old Town Square with pick pocketing rings operating with a high degree of skill and coordination. The drug trade in the Czech Republic is more of a problem then in Austria due to several factors including lower capability of monitoring money laundering, a central location for drug running, and fairly light penalties for drug crimes.

Global Impact and Significance[edit | edit source]

UNODC currently has at least eight major areas of focus that have a global impact and fulfill its UN mandate. The eight areas of UNODC focus are money laundering, organized crime, piracy, drug control & treatment, corruption, terrorism, trafficking in persons, and reform of criminal justice systems & prisons.

In May of 2009, UNODC launched an anti-piracy campaign providing assistance to Kenya, The Seychelles, and Tanzania. The program laid out legal frameworks to handover and prosecute piracy suspects many of which are currently housed in Kenyan prisons. The burden of piracy in Kenya has been eased through UNODC support for Kenyan law enforcement and increased court facilities, while improving prison conditions in Mombasa' Shimo La Tena Prison. UNODC is currently looking to build upon its work in East Africa and plans to extend its coverage to other countries in the region including Somalia.

Organized crime and its transnational impact are regarded by UNODC as one of the main threats to "human security, impeding the social, economic, political and cultural development of societies worldwide." UNODC assists member states by creating new frameworks and improved domestic legislation to cooperatively combat organized crime. Enhancing law enforcement capability through training and technical expertise, cooperation with legal assistance allows for uniformity of enforcement. For example, faster and easier extradition of organized crime members. The Treaty of UN Conventions Against Transnational Organized Crime set up a framework in 2003 to combat organized crime. The treaty not only allows for greater cooperation, but produces a free flow of information between international law enforcement agencies and analyzes new organized crime trends.

Another key issue for UNODC is Human Trafficking often a component of organized crime. A 2009 UNODC Global Report on Human Trafficking found data hard to compile with inadequate reporting in many counties, however the study did shed some light on some statistical evidence. Seventy-nine percent of human trafficking according to the report was for sexual exploitation with forced labor involving eighteen percent. Women made up between 80 to 84 % of the victims. Another finding of the report was that although the number of convictions for human trafficking is on the rise it is not keeping pace with the scale of the growing trade. Many developing countries still lack the legal infrastructure and capability to address human trafficking and this is one example why UNODC has a significant role to play in the world today.

UNODC's program in East Africa to combat terrorism was launched in 2003. Kenya and Tanzania have been the site of terrorist attacks in 1998 at the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and again in 2002 in Mombasa with the attempted shoot down of a civilian aircraft. The program aims at providing counter-terrorism technology to prevent further attacks. UNODC also provides training to law enforcement and elected officials to form a framework to deal with the regional threat of terrorism.

Reform of criminal justice systems and prisons are key components of UNODC. Fair legal systems and protection of human rights based on the rule of law are essential aspects of criminal justice systems and the implementation of standards. These endeavors will stabilize countries in conflict and UNODC works in developing countries to improve training and skills.

The illicit drug trade is one of the most significant barriers to global security and prosperity. UNODC recognizes many of the shortfalls of drug control however does not support the growing movement towards legalize and tax which it dismisses as overly simplistic. UNODC urges governmental action in the direction away from punishing the user and onto treatment of the user with greater enforcement aimed at the drug runners. By governments fine tuning their policies and focusing controls on crime and promoting health access to drug addicts the problem may eventually show signs of success. One example of a UNODC project is that of Alternative Development. Six countries currently (Afghanistan, Bolivia, Colombia, Lao, Myanmar, and Peru) participate in a program to provide rural farmers with legal alternatives to such crops as marijuana, popy, cocoa, etc. The goal is to provide impoverished areas of the world with real economically sustainable crops to harvest.

Money is usually at the heart of all criminal activity. From drug smugglers to terrorist organizations, funds are necessary to further operations but also ways of concealing money from law enforcement officials often takes the form of money laundering. Money laundering often promotes corruption and when public officials engage in corruption , the publics trust is broken. One of UNODC's primary goals is to interrupt and break the cycle of money laundering by strengthening financial institutions making them less susceptible to "dirty money".

Going hand in hand with UNODC's money laundering campaign is an effort to combat corruption at all levels. For example, UNODC's program in East Africa provides accounting computer software technology to track corruption in Ethiopia, Maritious, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Southern Sudan. The objective of UNODC is to enhance integrity both in the public and private sectors by creating greater transparency and accountability.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is an institution of growing importance around the world as criminal activity becomes more of a cross border problem. The need for an organization to fill in the gaps becomes more apparent. UNODC's many missions launched from its Vienna, Austria headquarters adds to the image of Vienna as a global capital and a leader in the effort to make the world a more stable and prosperous place to live.

References:[edit | edit source]

CorruptionMoney-launderingAustria crime 2010UN Office at ViennaUNODC About, Explanatory note, and PrefacePiracyWorld Drug Report 2009Alternative DevelopmentCzech Republic Crime 2010Reform Criminal Justice & PrisonOrganized CrimeTerrorism East Africa2010 Crime CommissionTrafficking in Persons 2009 Report Bedford, N. and Eberle (2007) Vienna: City Guide. Melbourne: Lonely Planet