Ambassador Dr Brendon Hammer
Permanent Representative of Australia
Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
18 October 2016
Madam President, the Australian delegation congratulates you on your election as chair of the Conference, and looks forward to working with you – and the Extended Bureau – during the week.
The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols are a cornerstone of international cooperation to combat transnational crime. Not only is their near universal ratification a strong statement of shared political commitment, but they provide the practical tools for counties to cooperate. Australia strongly encourages States Parties to make use of the UNTOC as a basis for international cooperation and to ensure their Central Authorities have the powers and resources they need to fully implement its provisions.
The effectiveness of formal international cooperation can be greatly enhanced by informal networks. The regional Asset Recovery Interagency Networks are a great example. These regional networks enable our investigators, prosecutors and policy makers to quickly and easily share information and intelligence to ‘follow the money’. They assist practitioners in understanding how laws, such as proceeds of crime legislation, work in other countries. These channels of communication are vital to making sure formal arrangements, such as mutual legal assistance, work in practice.
The UNTOC is a remarkably flexible instrument and we should be looking to use it to fight all forms of transnational organized crime – both established and emerging. Wildlife trafficking is a serious and growing problem around the world. It not only threatens biodiversity but has a serious impact on people’s livelihoods, on economic development and on national security. The UNTOC can serve as the basis for all forms of cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking – we do not need a new instrument to do this. Australia encourages all States Parties to ensure that illicit trafficking in wildlife products and the illegal exploitation of wild flora and fauna is criminalised as a ‘serious crime’.
Organised crime continues to evolve and so must we. The global nature of cybercrime means that international partnerships are crucial to ensure there are no safe havens for cyber criminals, to stop cyber-attacks and to track down perpetrators. Australia is committed to investing in these global relationships and to raising the cyber security capacity of our region. We were pleased to support the UNODC to deliver training in Bangkok this month for judges, prosecutors and investigators from around Southeast Asia regarding digital evidence and cybercrime.
To combat these constantly changing threats we must continue to share information and invest in research. The recent publication of the Pacific regional Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment is a significant contribution to understanding the transnational crime threats in this region – including illicit drugs, environmental crimes, and small arms trafficking. But this is not just a Pacific issue – as the report makes clear, the region is well and truly part of the global illicit economy. Australia looks forward to cooperating with the UNODC and others to support the region in tackling this security and economic challenge.
Corruption and money laundering are key enablers of other transnational organised crimes. The London Anti-Corruption Summit in May was a strong statement of global political will to stamp out corruption. Australia supported a strong package of commitments at the Summit, including further funding for UNODC and UNDP programs in Asia and the Pacific aimed at strengthening implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption. Australia is also committed to safeguarding the integrity of our financial system. We recently completed a comprehensive review of our anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime to better respond to new and emerging threats.
Understanding the interrelationship between gender and crime is vital to the effectiveness of any response. Australia is pleased to be hosting a side-event at the Conference with our partners from Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Turkey which will highlight the importance of integrating a gender perspective into domestic and international efforts to combat transnational organised crime. We strongly support the efforts of the UNODC to mainstream gender in its work and the important contribution it can make towards the ultimate goal of achieving gender equality.
The review mechanism for the UNTOC will again be a key issue for discussion at this Conference. Australia thanks the Chair of the second open‑ended intergovernmental meeting, the Ambassador of Jordan, for his efforts. Australia remains committed to establishing an efficient, effective and economical mechanism to help countries to get the most out of the UNTOC. We look forward to working with other States Parties towards a consensus approach. It is better that we take our time to get the mechanism right, rather than agree to a mechanism that fails to deliver on its objectives.
In closing, Madam President, the Australian delegation looks forward to working with you, States Parties and other participants throughout the week as we work to tackle these, and other, pressing transnational organised crime challenges.