An official website of the European Union. See all European Institutions
- Check against delivery -
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Every member of this Assembly is confronted with the issues of drug control, transnational organised crime, including cybercrime, and potential terrorist attacks. These threats impact on all five core priorities of the SDG agenda: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.
The merit of the UN system is to support the action that each government must take against these challenges, and to encourage judicial and law enforcement cooperation between States and regional organisations. Fighting these crimes also involves testing the delicate balance between security and freedom, efficiency and the defence of values and rights, while strictly upholding international humanitarian law and human rights law, in particular the international covenant on civil and political rights.
The European Union reaffirms the importance of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols in combating both existing and emerging forms of transnational organised crime, and calls on all States to comprehensively implement them.
Trafficking in human beings
Trafficking in human beings is both a crime and a grave human rights violation, driven by profits and the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation. Often targeted for sexual exploitation, women and girls remain the majority of the victims.
The European Union has in place a solid and ambitious legal and policy framework to address this crime, seeking to uphold the principles and standards enshrined in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. We remain committed to multilateralism and reaffirm the need to forge partnerships that uphold the international legal standards enshrined therein. The European Union aligned its development assistance with Agenda 2030, addressing trafficking in human beings under three targets, most broadly under 8.7, with 5.2 and 16.2 concerning the majority of the victims, women and children.
As demonstrated by the 2018 Second progress report, a lot has been achieved under the comprehensive EU legal and policy framework, with respect to cross-border cooperation, cooperation with civil society, use of financial investigations, setting up joint investigation teams, and developing national and transnational referral mechanisms. Nevertheless, there remains a high level of impunity for all perpetrators of those crimes. Prevention is at the core of EU action, and it is a priority to counter the impunity that fosters the crime, focussing on all forms of exploitation, including by criminalising the use of services exacted from victims. Only by putting an end to the impunity of all perpetrators, traffickers, exploiters, profit makers and users can we ensure meaningful accountability towards the victims.
Smuggling of migrants
Saving lives and fighting migrant smuggling has remained at the core of all EU actions to reduce irregular migration. These are clear priorities under both the EU Agenda on Migration and Agenda on Security. The EU and its Member States will continue to fight resolutely migrant smugglers and their deadly business model. We need to continue investing resources and finding innovative ways to tackle crime networks, who are increasingly quick in exploiting policy gaps and reinventing modi operandi to perpetuate their illegal business.
Building on the first-ever comprehensive policy framework at EU level - the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling 2015-2020 - , the EU adopted in December 2018, a comprehensive and operational set of measures with a law enforcement focus to step up the fight against migrant smuggling networks. These also aim at maximising the use of the external assets of the EU in the fight against migrant smuggling, for example by strengthening links between our internal and external action and the development of common operational partnerships with partner countries in order to support their law enforcement activities and improve cooperation.
Like other forms of cross-border crime, migrant smuggling poses security threats and undermines welfare and social cohesion for countries of origin, transit and destination alike. It has become increasingly violent and exploitative, often putting migrants’ very lives at risk. This is why we all have a vital interest in building stronger cooperation against smugglers. The EU upholds the principles and standards as enshrined in the UN Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, and promotes the ratification of the Protocol together with the adoption of national legislation in line with it.
Significant EU funding is also being allocated under a wide range of instruments to projects that include addressing smuggling of migrants, both in EU Member States and the wider world. Our CSDP missions that are active on the main smuggling routes are also contributing in the fight against migrant smuggling. Thanks to EU's Operation Sophia a significant number of smugglers have been arrested and hundreds of vessels seized. At the same time, the EU's civilian missions in Libya, Mali and Niger support the capacity building of the police and other internal security forces to counter smuggling of migrants within the framework of human rights and rule of law.
Organised crime at sea
Maritime crime and trafficking at sea, in particular piracy and armed robbery, arms and drug trafficking, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings, are increasingly recognized as being among the most serious threats to our common security and the global economy.
Earlier this year, the EU adopted a revised Action Plan on Maritime Security, which promotes a holistic perspective on maritime security, encompassing terrorism as well as cyber, hybrid, chemical, environmental and other threats in the maritime domain, supports regional, tailor-made responses to challenges, and call for a stronger collaboration between civilian and military actors, and among specialised agencies. This coincided with the UN Security Council Arria formula meeting on maritime Crime as a Threat to International Peace and Security, which allowed identifying good practices for the international community to strengthen prevention mechanisms and responses to counter maritime crime.
Two months ago, the EU has adopted an improved legal framework against money laundering, harmonising the definition of criminal offences and sanctions related to money laundering, including the proceeds of cybercrime, and removing obstacles to cross-border judicial and police cooperation. We call upon all members to step up their efforts and make it more difficult for terrorists and criminals to get away with the profits of crime.
At the 62nd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2019, with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration, we reaffirmed our commitment to "Strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem". Accelerating the implementation of our joint commitments, including all the aspects of the Outcome Document of UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), is precisely what we should now focus on. To do so, the UN system Common Position published in March 2019, on the question of global drug policy to advance security, development and human rights goes in the right direction in response to the growing need to provide multidimensional support to Member States on drug related matters.
The EU has regular dialogues on drugs with partner countries, and provides assistance through drugs-related external cooperation programmes. We are working with these partners to effectively implement our commitments to address the world's drug problem.
The EU would like to see a stronger connection between the Agenda 2030 and the world drug problem. The efforts to achieve the relevant Sustainable Developments Goals and to effectively address the world drug problem should complement and reinforce each other.
The EU also continues to strongly and unequivocally oppose the use of death penalty at all times and under all circumstances, including for drug-related crimes. More generally, we promote responses to drug-related offences that are in line with international law and standards, and the principle of proportionality. For example, we have committed to using alternatives to coercive sanctions for drug-using offenders.
In order to implement joint commitments to address the world's drug problem in line with the principles we are promoting, the EU is considering updating its Drugs Strategy for the coming years. To inform this process, we are currently conducting an evaluation of the 2013-2020 EU Drugs Strategy and its 2017-2020 Action Plan.
The work of the UN Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Group on Cybercrime has yielded results, including with regard to legislative reforms based on existing international standards and in particular in terms of capacity building. These changes need to be taken into account and the work of the Intergovernmental Expert Group is of paramount importance for providing a comprehensive overview as acknowledged by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) in May this year. This is why the UN Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Group on Cybercrime is and should remain the main process at the level of the United Nations on the topic of cybercrime.
The Secretary General's Report of last month: Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes, prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution 73/187, is useful in highlighting a number of issues that we recognise and that we would like to further work on within the agreed formats.
There is broad consensus on the essential role of capacity building in addressing cybercrime. Alongside the UNODC’s Global Programme, there are a number of other capacity building programmes we support, such as those run by the Council of Europe and the EU.
However, many countries still need to adopt at least some specific procedural powers to secure electronic evidence and develop the necessary criminal justice capacities to apply procedural powers in practice: capacity building should thus remain the priority for the future.
On the other end, consensus is lacking on the need and feasibility of a new international treaty on cybercrime, and considering the risks of such an undertaking, priority should be given to cooperation on the basis of existing treaties. Such treaties include, inter alia, the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe and its future second additional Protocol.
The EU has further improved and integrated the counter-terrorism instruments at its disposal and cooperates with partner countries on counter-terrorism, including through the contacts taken by the EEAS, the European Commission and the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator, and the network of CT and security experts stationed in EU Delegations in priority countries around the world. The EU continues to support the key role of the UN in counter-terrorism and contributes to the biannual review of the UN Global Counter-terrorism Strategy's whose fourth pillar reminds the need to ensure the respect of human rights and the rule of law. This Strategy, together with relevant Security Council resolutions and the Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism will continue to guide the EU's own efforts.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.