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Panel Discussions - Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Expert: Cybercrime Allows Criminals into "Billions of Family Homes"

Nick Lewis, an organized-crime expert with the British Embassy, told an IPI audience that opportunities for criminals to commit international crimes have become greater, and that organized crime now affects billions of ordinary citizens.

“Before the rise of cybercrime, the man in the street felt largely untouched by organized crime,” he said at the October 6th event. “It was by definition an ‘underworld’ activity, and rarely touched ordinary lives. In recent years, though, the home computer has enabled criminals to deliver child pornography, fraud, and extortion into the heart of billions of family homes.”

At a time when transnational organized crime is increasingly regarded as an international security threat, and with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conference on transnational crime only a week away, the International Peace Institute hosted this event, titled “Transnational Organized Crime and the Palermo Convention: A Reality Check,” to consider the current state of transnational organized crime and the role played by the Palermo Convention in countering it. The seminar brought together about seventy participants, mainly from missions to the UN, UN agencies, and the NGO community.

Six experts made presentations in two panels. The first panel addressed recent trends and the evolving nature, growth and impact of transnational organized crime. A global perspective was provided, and developments in Latin America and China highlighted.

The second panel focused on the role of the Palermo Convention in countering transnational organized crime. The need for effective review mechanisms was stressed and the convention's limitations acknowledged. It is not an instrument that was in the first instance designed to combat transnational organized crime; rather, it in essence provides the legal tools to facilitate international cooperation to counter such crime.

IPI will shortly publish a report on the event. The seminar was conducted under Chatham House rules of non-attribution, but links to two of the presentations are provided below.

The upcoming UNODC conference in Vienna on October 18th-22nd, titled the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), marks ten years since the Palermo Convention was put in place. Over the course of this decade, transnational organized crime appears to have evolved and significantly expanded, while the Palermo Convention is still struggling to convince states’ parties and skeptics of its effectiveness.

Presentation by Nick Lewis
Presentation by Professor T. Wing Lo
Presentation by Professor Phil Williams

 Read agenda

Read Peter Gastrow's Comment and Analysis piece on the Palermo Convention

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