Meeting Notes - January 04, 2011
Transnational Organized Crime and the Palermo Convention: A Reality Check
André Standing, rapporteur
Ten years have passed since the adoption of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention) by the UN General Assembly on November 15, 2000. At the signing of the convention in Palermo, Sicily, in December 2000, many government delegations welcomed the Palermo Convention as an important step in the fight against organized crime. Some warned against viewing it as a final measure and stressed that the convention and its protocols should be considered as a starting point rather than an end in itself.
The development of the convention followed an increased realization during the 1980s and 1990s that the threat of organized crime was no longer merely a domestic one but had grown into one of global proportions. The realization that an international threat requires an international response became an important driving force.
Government delegations attending the Palermo conference in December 2000 could not have known that less than a year later a new international threat would suddenly emerge that would be regarded as far more immediate and dangerous than transnational organized crime. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon resulted in a shift of attention and resources toward countering terrorism, causing transnational organized crime (TOC) to drop on the priority and threat lists. However, during the past five years the significant expansion and impact of transnational organized crime in different parts of the world have contributed to a renewed focus on the international threat that it poses. National strategies to counter transnational organized crime have been dusted off and strengthened, and additional resources are being made available to help in doing so.
This is part of a renewed international interest in transnational organized crime and in efforts to counter it. The Palermo Convention, seen as the main international tool to counter TOC, has therefore also come under renewed scrutiny. How has TOC evolved and changed over the past ten years and what role has the Palermo Convention played in countering it? Addressing questions such as these is also a matter of interest to the programmatic work of the International Peace Institute.
As part of this work, a half-day seminar took place in New York on October 6, 2010. The aim of this event was to reflect on how TOC has changed over the past decade and to begin a discussion on the Palermo Convention as well as the challenges facing international efforts to counter organized crime more generally.
This report provides a thematic summary of the presentations and discussions that occurred on the October 6th. It is important to state from the outset that the event was not intended to provide a definitive evaluation of the Palermo Convention; rather, it was an opportunity for experts to reflect on some broad themes and identify issues to take forward.
Given the complexity of the subjects put forward for discussion, there was an inevitable limit to what could be covered, both in terms of the depth of analysis, as well as geographical scope. However, as will be evident, the meeting was successful in providing a rich debate on contemporary trends, and it benefited from the participation of leading experts on this subject from the US, Latin America, Africa, and China. Indeed, the inclusion of a Chinese perspective on transnational organized crime was one of the unique aspects of this meeting.
The report is divided into two sections. The first addresses some of the key observations in trends in TOC occurring globally and within specific regions. The second considers the Palermo Convention as well as some of the main difficulties facing the international community in addressing TOC.
The Global Observatory
Mandela, Pan-African Prophet
Adekeye Adebajo writes that Mandela's legacy will be his export of the pan-African spirit of ubuntu: the gift of discovering our shared humanity.
How Mandela’s Relentless Diplomacy Transformed South Africa
Former US Ambassador John Hirsch traces the path of Mandela's relentless diplomacy.
Key Global Events to Watch in December
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
Top 10 Issues to Watch in 2013: The Multilateral Arena
Ten key issues that are likely to impact global affairs in international peace, security, and development.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
December 02, 2013
Latin America Focus of Fourth ''Being a Peacekeeper'' Event
On December 2-3, IPI brought together 24 representatives from eleven Latin American countries with senior officials from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to discuss the current state—as well as the future—of Latin American military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.
November 28, 2013
Energy and Security in the Arctic: A New “Frozen” Conflict?
Is the Arctic a “region of cooperation,” or will competition for its potentially rich energy resources lead to conflict in the high north? This was the main question addressed during an expert workshop held in The Hague on November 28th by the International Peace Institute together with the International Gas Union and the Clingendael International Energy Programme.
November 22, 2013
Can Technology Play a Role in Drafting a Constitution?
The effects that new technologies can have on constitutional processes was the topic of this November 22nd IPI roundtable discussion. Approximately five new constitutions are written around the world every year, and their legitimacy is increasingly influenced by a new level of public participation in their drafting, not merely by a plebiscite on the final text. As rapidly advancing technology changes the way that governments and citizens interact, what role are new technologies playing in constitutions?