Ian Tennant

In October 2018, UN member states finally adopted an implementation review mechanism for the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its three protocols (human trafficking, migrant smuggling and firearms trafficking).

Civil-society voices are important in this review mechanism process. By supporting the implementation of UNTOC, the role that CSOs can play in offering multiple sources of information and perspectives, bringing new data and broadening the scope of debates, is critical. Civil society can contextualize the implementation of UNTOC, supplying analysis and expert opinion on organized-crime trends and bringing the experience of communities affected by organized crime to the fore. This differs from the primarily legalistic focus of the formal review mechanism, conducted by member states and their peer reviewers. An approach that sites UNTOC in a context of the multiple impacts of organized crime on communities and wider civil-society actors (who are ostensibly the ultimate beneficiaries of the convention) will best support member states in decision-making on UNTOC and response priorities going forward.

As the leading global civil-society organization working on organized-crime issues, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) will bring its authority, convening power, and extensive Network of Experts, as well as grassroots civil-society organizations (CSOs) working against organized crime, to help ensure a meaningful, rich and coordinated contribution to the UNTOC implementation review process. The GI-TOC will support CSOs in preparing and implementing their engagement with the review mechanism.

We are delighted to be working in close coordination with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as the custodian of UNTOC. In September 2019, the UNODC and GI-TOC signed a letter of intent to guide our joint work on this important issue. Together, we are undertaking a broad and multi-pronged strategy to help ensure meaningful civil-society engagement in the review mechanism. UNODC’s leadership and support for the CSO community will be critical in ensuring that the UNTOC Conference of the Parties provides the opportunity and direction for meaningful CSO engagement.

GI-TOC and the UNODC have together developed a programme of initiatives that will cumulatively work towards achieving the following three outcomes:

• That diverse, civil-society perspectives are incorporated into the UNTOC review mechanism process, in a visible, impactful, coherent and coordinated manner.

• That the CSO community working against organized crime is brought together to enter into a dialogue, and coordinate and engage with the review mechanism in an informed, collegial and strategic way.

• That the CSO community understands the UNTOC review mechanism process and how the perspectives of non-state actors will be, and should be, incorporated into the process.

This will be achieved through a number of activities and outputs, including a joint UNODC/GI-TOC set of guidelines for CSOs, and a GI-TOC publication, the ‘Global Report on the Future of Organized Crime’, which will form part of civil society’s input into the UNTOC review mechanism at its launch in October 2020. We were delighted to present our approach at the 68th UN Civil Society Conference in Salt Lake City on 27 August 2019, alongside UNODC. UNODC’s coverage of the event can be found here. Our work in this area will also be showcased and discussed at the UN Crime Congress in Kyoto, in April 2020, and at our other events with CSO and member states partners.

The GI-TOC is grateful to the governments of Switzerland and the UK, who have pledged to support GI-TOC financially in the delivery of our work on these issues.