The illicit movement of people and goods across borders is as old as borders themselves. However, the past two decades have seen unprecedented growth in the scale, scope and impacts of such movements, and in the size and sophistication of the criminal networks responsible.
These complex, well-resourced networks now span continents, driving, and in turn sustained by, illicit trafficking on an unprecedented scale. Moreover, we are increasingly seeing an alarming convergence of these networks.
Constantly seeking points of weakness, they target jurisdictions with weak state capacity; and, once established, further undermine governance, public safety and development prospects, providing fertile ground for crime, instability, and terrorism.
The very viability of states of states is often at risk, posing serious threats to security and to stable democratic government.
No corner of the globe is beyond their reach; including my own region, the Pacific, which in recent years has become a target for people smugglers, human and narcotics traffickers, and others.
We have learnt much about what works in combating and disrupting these illicit networks.
We’ve learnt the importance of robust legislative frameworks, effective border and law enforcement institutions, and good governance for protecting our jurisdictions.
We’ve learnt that no country can meet these challenges alone; that the multinational character and reach of these networks makes international cooperation essential.
And we have learned to look at these challenges through a broad lens, taking into account the drivers of demand for such activities and the links between them.
In the Pacific, measures to combat these activities have been coordinated through the Pacific Islands Forum’s Regional Security Committee, and through regional law enforcement groupings such as the Oceania Customs Organisation, the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, the Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference, and the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre. New Zealand also supports its Pacific Island neighbours through bilateral capacity-building programmes.
In partnership with the Forum Secretariat, we help bring Pacific law enforcement officials together every year for a regional Working Group on Counter-Terrorism; which this year will address the link between terrorism and transnational organised crime, and the synergies between capacity-building efforts in both areas.
Since 2009 New Zealand has actively participated in the Trans-Pacific Network on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks, hosting the second Trans-Pacific workshop in Christchurch in 2010. We also contribute to other regional initiatives including through APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum; and provide substantial bilateral counter-terrorism and law enforcement assistance to our partners in Southeast Asia.
To better understand the threat facing the region from these illicit activities, New Zealand has partnered with Australia to fund the UNODC Transnational Crime Threat Assessment for East Asia and the Pacific, building on UNODC’s 2010 global assessment of organised crime.
And in June, building on our chairmanship last year of the Meeting of Government Experts on Small Arms and Light Weapons, we’ll fund a workshop for our CARICOM partners on combating the illicit trade in firearms across borders, focusing specifically on maritime security - issues that to date have received insufficient attention within the UN, including in the Programme of Action on small arms, despite the high priority placed on them by many states.
New Zealand is one of many bilateral and multilateral actors providing assistance of this kind. Concrete steps towards achieving more integrated and coherent assistance would be in everybody’s interests; particularly those of small developing states in the most urgent need of targeted capacity-building.
New Zealand therefore welcomes today’s debate; and wished to make the following four points.
First, cooperation and coordination between UN agencies and with other relevant international bodies providing assistance in this area should be strengthened.
That cooperation must focus on providing consistent advice and more coherent and complementary capacity-building for Member States, in line with national priorities.
Practical steps in this regard could include enhanced information sharing and more coordinated risk and needs assessments and priority setting. It should also include strengthened cooperation with other relevant international bodies, including as INTERPOL and the World Customs Organisation.
There will, of course, be limits to what is possible in this regard, given the different mandates and memberships of the various actors involved.
Secondly, the UN should consider options for more integrated delivery of assistance on the ground, again based on national and regional priorities.
International donors should support national partners seeking to articulate their own priority needs, and provide assistance in accordance with such plans where they exist.
Regional and sub-regional organisations can also provide important frameworks for coordinating international assistance and aligning it with regional priorities. Consideration should be given to making better use of such regional partnerships.
Thirdly, the Security Council should seek to contribute to more coordinated provision of assistance within its own areas of responsibility.
It could, for example, ask the Secretary-General to include advice relating to illicit trafficking and movements in reports to the Council, where relevant; and integrate these aspects into mission mandates where they have the potential to undermine peace and security. This is particularly important in peacebuilding situations, where transnational criminal elements can become obstacles to sustainable peace.
And the Council could instruct its own relevant Committees and subsidiary bodies to actively coordinate their work with other relevant international actors.
Finally, we must view illicit trafficking and movements through a broader lens than just that of enhanced border controls.
While strengthened national border and law enforcement institutions have a vital role to play, they cannot stem the flow of illicit trafficking and movements unless we simultaneously address related issues such as illicit financial flows, and the factors underlying demand.
It is important that strengthened coordination of international policy and capacity building also take place in this broader context. We welcome recent steps in this regard, including the establishment of a UN task force on transnational organised crime.
The criminal networks behind most illicit international activity have had devastating impacts on communities worldwide.
Their ever-expanding reach, sophistication and resources make confronting them a formidable challenge; and we must ensure states on the front line of this struggle have the tools and the capacities needed to meet this challenge successfully.
More coordinated and integrated international assistance has an important role to play in this; and I hope today’s debate foreshadows a substantial step in that direction.
Thank you Madame President.