Mark Shaw

Chair, Excellencies, colleagues, thank you for the opportunity to give this statement, on behalf of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.   

I’d like to speak today on the increasingly pervasive threat of transnational organized crime and the critical and urgent need for a more strategic response, including through more effective international cooperation and technical assistance – the theme of this year’s session of the Commission.   

There is a growing recognition that the grave threats and harms of transnational organized crime are of epidemic proportions.  This has been recognized in recent months by the Interpol General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the General Assembly – which has adopted a new International Day on Transnational Organized Crime. 

We welcome all of these efforts.  But statements and declarations can only do so much, but at the moment our approach to international cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and counter organized crime can be described as business as usual.     

The last time the threat of TOC was spoken about in the same way was decades ago, and after many years the international community came together to adopt the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.  But the world has changed since then – and the threats of organized crime are much more pervasive and causing more harm on a global scale, as well as in specific contemporary security, human rights and environmental crises – despite the widespread ratification of the UNTOC.  

To put this into perspective, In 2023, the second iteration of our Global Organized Crime Index showed that:  

  • 83% of the global population now live in countries with high criminality – up from 79% in 2021. Criminality has continued to grow at a staggering rate.  
  • The Index draws a clear link between criminality and conditions of conflict and fragility, contributing to arms flows and associated violence.  
  • But there’s hope too in the Index’s findings. It is clear that good governance practices that are open, transparent, embedded in the rule of law and encourage active engagement from citizens are the basis for more effective responses – including through international cooperation and technical assistance.    

Currently we have no way of knowing whether the current approaches are being implemented effectively.  Since the beginning of the UNTOC Review Mechanism in 2020 – not a single country review has been  published.  And review discussions themselves take place behind closed doors.  There is therefore neither effective sanction nor incentive for states to live up to their commitments under the UNTOC and its core purpose of enhancing international cooperation.  

It’s time to turn the declarations, statements and resolutions, and the convention itself, into action – for more effect and impact.  

Thank you