UN takes on global crime

Tough talking from the United Nations Organization's Russian anti-crime chief, Yuri Fedotov, who sets his sights on the hundred-billion dollar illicit drugs trade, vowing to smash this scourge in a comprehensive approach attacking the production line from grower to user.

42050.jpegYuri Fedotov, 63, was appointed the United Nations Organization's Director of the Office of Crime and Drugs (UNODC) in July. The former Russian ambassador to Britain and former deputy Russian Foreign Minister has wasted no time in drawing up his proposals, presented yesterday at the beginning of this week's meeting in Palermo, Italy.

Fedotov stated that organized crime "has ballooned to global proportions", the illicit drugs trade reaching some 100 billion USD per year - the cocaine trade from the Andes to the USA and Europe is worth some 70 billion USD per year and heroin, mainly from Afghanistan, accounts for a further 30 billion USD.

Analysing what has been done and what needs to be implemented, Yuri Fedotov stressed the importance of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted one decade ago and now ratified by 157 States, which facilitates the process or extradition and legal assistance, cross-border intelligence sharing, cooperation and joint investigations. However, according to Fedotov, this Convention is under-utilised.

For the future, Yuri Fedotov wants to see "a comprehensive, system-wide response that strengthens resistance to organized crime at its point of origin, along trafficking routes and at the final destinations for its illicit goods". The Convention has prepared the path for the authorities to hit the traffickers hard, cutting off their cash supplies through anti-money laundering measures, chasing plundered assets and ending banking secrecy.

However, while there is so much money at stake, it makes more sense for certain farmers to sell coca leaf and farm opium poppies than to be unemployed and watch their families starve, the more so since they are producing a natural product - the transformation into a harmful drug is made elsewhere.

And while hundreds of billions of dollars are involved - 200,000 per minute, every minute of every day (3,333 per second), around 450,000 USD since you started reading this article, it is not difficult to corrupt poorly paid police forces, to bribe officials or to involve the authorities themselves in the trafficking.

Finally, while there is a market, it makes sense to produce the goods to sell. Prevention starts with education of the next generation of drugs users. While in the equation which makes up the human being, the use of psychotropic substances is a constant factor, and always has been, hard drugs damage society, destroy families and take away lives and futures.

Those who prey on this and make a fortune out of the unhappiness of others are about to discover who Yuri Fedotov is.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey