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Frank E. Loy, Under Secretary for Global Affairs
Statement to United Nations Convention Against
Organized Crime High-Level Political Signing Conference
Palazzo di Giustizia (Hall of Justice)
Palermo, Italy, December 13, 2000

Blue Bar rule

Good morning. I am pleased to be here to represent the United States at this historic conference. I'd like to thank the Government of Italy for the splendid job it has done in preparing this conference. 150 countries are here for the signing of the first multilateral treaty to combat organized crime. It is an accomplishment of some magnitude -- perhaps unprecedented -- for this many countries to achieve in such a short time, and by consensus, three international agreements on three distinct issues of critical importance to the world today.

It's been a good week for the United Nations and for the people of the world. Earlier this week agreement was reached in Johannesburg on a treaty that addresses the problem of certain toxic chemicals, commonly called persistent organic pollutants or "POPs". About the same number of countries participated as here, and the text was also adopted by consensus.

And earlier this year there was another successful UN negotiation -- the Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biodiversity, dealing with genetically modified agricultural products. This was also adopted by consensus by a large number of countries.

The successful conclusion of these three agreements, all under United Nations auspices, all by consensus, and all involving a large number of the countries of the world, is heartening news.

Such agreements are hard to come by, and the achievement we are celebrating this week in Palermo should not be taken for granted. Similar agreements on other issues have eluded us so far, notwithstanding the significance of the issues and the commitment of the countries participating in the negotiations.

All of these international agreements deal with the consequences of different aspects of globalization. While globalization has brought progress and expanded economic opportunities to the world, an unfortunate consequence of globalization is transnational crime. As Secretary General Kofi Annan said yesterday, the openness of globalization works both ways. We must match the increasingly sophisticated means that organized criminal groups have found to exploit globalization if we are to win this battle. In particular it takes international agreements that are global to fight crime that is global.

The Transnational Organized Crime Convention and its supplementary protocols include several common themes that characterize successful global agreements. Perhaps most important, they establish global standards that all countries must meet, and then provide for flexibility in the manner in which they meet them. For example, the Convention and Protocols define -- for the first time in binding international instruments -- organized crime, migrant smuggling, and trafficking in persons; and they require all parties to criminalize this defined conduct under their domestic law. But they permit individual countries to tailor the manner in which they implement their obligations to the particular needs of their system. For example, the Convention recognizes that different countries have different approaches to the crime that we in the United States label as conspiracy.

The international norms established by this Convention and its protocols lead to another common theme of successful global treaties -- namely, they facilitate increased cooperation among governments, in this case law enforcement officials. Having accepted definitions of organized crime, migrant smuggling, and trafficking in persons makes international collaboration on these subjects easier. The Convention and Protocols build on these definitions, by including numerous mechanisms for cooperation. For example, rather than going through the time-consuming and expensive process of negotiating bilateral agreements, countries will be able to rely on these treaties for extradition and mutual legal assistance.

Finally, the Convention and Protocols recognize the fundamental humanitarian aspects involved in fighting organized crime, particularly trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. This is a constructive development, which perhaps has not been a common theme in global law enforcement treaties, but which should be. These treaties do not stop with punishing the criminal; that is just the beginning. They also recognize that a cornerstone of our work must be the protection of the victims of these crimes, and the prevention of these criminal activities in the first place. For example, the Convention contains witness protection provisions; and the migrant smuggling protocol reaffirms states' obligations toward migrants under international humanitarian law, and explicitly states that migrants are not punishable under the Protocol simply for being an illegal migrant. Of the three agreements, the Trafficking in Persons Protocol includes, with good reason, the most far-reaching provisions for services and protections for victims -- including calling for states to provide in appropriate cases shelter, medical, and legal assistance, and the possibility of permanent residence.

The completion of this negotiation is certainly cause for celebration, and I again congratulate all involved in it. However, we must recognize that the fight against international organized crime is far from over.

The United States has been at the forefront of this fight and we are committed to staying there. Among other things, we provide law enforcement training and equipment to scores of governments all around the world. This past year alone the U.S. allocated more than $36 million for such training and technical assistance programs.

In collaboration with host countries, the United States has established and continues to support two International Law Enforcement Academies in Budapest and Bangkok, and we will open two more -- in Africa and Latin America -- in the near future. At these facilities, rank-and-file law enforcement personnel from those countries and their regional neighbors learn how crime syndicates operate, how to recognize trafficking and smuggling operations, and much more.

Many countries have worked together on this front. Let me pay special tribute to our hosts. The Government of Italy has shown great courage and determination in attacking organized crime. Cooperation between our two governments has brought many successes. For example, Italian authorities under the leadership of the courageous magistrate Giovanni Falcone worked with U.S. law enforcement to uncover and disrupt international trafficking in heroin in the 1980s. This effort also benefited from the cooperation of the German, Swiss, Spanish, Brazilian, and Turkish governments, and remains today a model for multilateral law enforcement cooperation.

U.S. support for such cooperation will continue and grow. This Convention, through its comprehensive framework for multilateral law enforcement collaboration, will help make that possible.

I want to express my government's hope -- and optimism -- that negotiations on the Protocol to suppress the illicit manufacture of and traffic in firearms will soon come to a successful conclusion, so that Parties to the Convention will be able to sign that, too, ratify it, and put it to work.

Completion of the Convention and two Protocols in such a short time took an extraordinary effort. It could not have been accomplished without the tireless dedication and expertise of the Crime Center Secretariat, the pioneering efforts of Poland and Argentina, the skill and wisdom of Chairman Luigi Lauriola, another proud son of Italy, the leadership of the Conference Bureau, and the determination and flexibility of delegations from more than 120 countries. The United States is honored to be part of this effort and its culmination in Palermo today.

We have taken the first steps together, and now we must bring these instruments to life as meaningful tools in our fight against transnational organized crime.

Thank you very much.

[end of document]

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