The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime is the largest global civil society organization with expertise on and relevance to transnational organized crime and the UN Convention Against Transnational Crime (UNTOC). We are profoundly shocked and disappointed to learn that the Bureau of the Conference of Parties to the UNTOC has decided not to issue the GI-TOC with an invitation to the first Constructive Dialogue on the UNTOC Implementation Review Mechanism, taking place on 6 May at the Headquarters of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

As emphasised in a letter signed by the Vienna Permanent Representatives of 41 delegations, there is not a sufficient legal basis to exclude the GI-TOC from this meeting, the letter states:

“Neither the UNTOC nor the Rules of Procedure for the COP or for any of its subsidiary bodies provide a rationale that would require the Secretariat to choose, as its default, not to issue GI-TOC an invitation, particularly when the COP has already approved the NGO as an Observer under rule 17 of the COP’s Rules of Procedure. In the absence of such clarity, the Secretariat and Bureau should choose to be inclusive, not exclusive, particularly to remain true to the spirit and letter of the drafters of the UNTOC and its Review Mechanism.

It should also be noted that the single objection to our participation from one Member State – which does not question our relevance to the process – makes false and baseless accusations against us which are designed to deter us (and civil society more generally) from engaging at the multilateral level.  In fact, we are more determined than ever to contribute to multilateral policy making, based on our global civil society-led research, analysis and expertise on criminal markets and how best to respond to them.

This long and complex Review Mechanism requires outside expertise in order to enhance the quality of its work.  Now that this decision has been taken, an already restricted avenue for civil society engagement in the process has been narrowed further.  We therefore note that this decision damages the credibility and usefulness of the UNTOC Implementation Review Mechanism, and the UNTOC Conference of Parties.

We thank the 41 delegations who signed a letter in support of our inclusion in this meeting, and we call on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to stand up for the rights of its civil society partners in the face of exclusion and false allegations from states.

We will continue, undeterred, to shine a light on the dynamics of organized crime around the world.  And we will continue to support other civil society individuals and groups as they do the same.