12th Crime Congress

UNODC and Microsoft team up against cybercrime

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 16 April 2010

Over four days, UNODC and Microsoft are holding a series of presentations and practical sessions on cybercrime, some exclusively for law enforcement officers and others, like the “Basics of Internet investigations: how the Internet really works”, open to all Congress participants.

T.J. Campana (in the picture above), Senior Programme Manager in the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, explains that it’s important for law enforcement officials to know how the Internet works because cybercrime “is a cat-and-mouse game. As we learn new techniques, the bad guys adapt so it’s really a constant, an ebb and flow”. Essentially, however, both sides are using the same technological infrastructure, which is why “allowing law enforcement to see some of the intricacies of how the Internet works” is important.

From the law enforcement perspective, Andrew Donoghoe, a detective superintendent for the Australian Federal Police currently being seconded to Microsoft for six months, says that “the good thing about technology is it enables law enforcement to be adaptive, responsive; we are technically able to use […] tools provided by companies such as Microsoft and others around the world to be advanced in our investigation techniques”.

The relationship with UNODC has been developed mainly through Gillian Murray, the UNODC focal point on cybercrime, who says that “Microsoft and UNODC have been collaborating over the past year on several initiatives, including on the use of information and communication technologies for terrorist purposes and online fraud”.

Gillian stresses that when it comes to fighting crime committed online, “there has to be a partnership between the public and the private sectors. It’s the only way it can work”.

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UN Radio has done a 14-minute programme based on interviews with cybercrime experts at the Congress, which you can access here.

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Elías Carranza: “What we need is a lot of social justice”

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 15 April 2010

At yesterday evening’s launch of the Portuguese version of the book entitled, in its original Spanish, Cárcel y justicia penal en América Latina y el Caribe: como implementar el modelo de derechos y obligaciones de las Naciones Unidas, the editor of the book, Elías Carranza, spoke candidly and with conviction about “the horrendous situation of our prisons, especially in low- and middle-income countries” and about “the serious situation of crime due to the great inequality that exists between and within countries”.

Carranza ended his short presentation by reminding all of us that “what the world needs, and what low- and middle-income countries in particular need, is not more criminal justice but a criminal justice that is efficient, transparent, human and benign. Above all, what we need is a lot of social justice.”

On behalf of UNODC, John Sandage, Executive Secretary of the Congress, welcomed the report, which he described as “an inspiration for our own work”.

Carranza is Director of the Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD), located in Costa Rica. The book was produced with the cooperation of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

What’s on: Tuesday, 13 April

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 13 April 2010

Finally! Blue skies! It’s been overcast, intermittently rainy and very humid for days, so it was a relief to wake up this morning to the sun trying to come through. That said, judging by the rain falling over the ocean, water here is never far away (the photo shows a view from the conference centre).

Today’s a big day. Member States will be tackling four important items on their agenda: youth and crime, the United Nations guidelines on crime prevention, technical assistance for implementing the international instruments against terrorism, and cybercrime.

On top of all that, about 18 ancillary meetings are scheduled on issues ranging from the death penalty, child porngraphy, the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) initiative, and the need for a cybercrime treaty. Also on the issue of cybercrime, a “UNODC cybercrime investigations lab” has been organized to run from today until Friday.

NGOs get together for their first coordination meeting

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 12 April 2010

Some 90 participants from NGOs, research institutions and academic entities, as well as volunteer report writers and interpreters, met this afternoon for a first get-together. It was an opportunity for everyone to get information from Mirella Dummar-Frahi of UNODC on how to best get their voice heard by Member States in the Plenary. Mirella also suggested that NGOs identify one organization, ideally one that has been accredited by the Economic and Social Council, to give a message at the high-level segment that will start on the afternoon of Saturday, 17 April.

 Other practical advice was given by Gary Hill, who has been facilitating the ancillary meetings, on how the schedule of meetings would be run and on the kind of assistance he could provide (room allocation, presentation equipment, interpretation services etc.).

During the question-and-answer session and after the meeting, people exchanged information on their respective presentations and the work of their organizations. For many people, this is their first time at a United Nations congress. Others, however, have been attending Congresses and sessions of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for years. For them, in the words of one participant, these events are “like reuniting with a big family. I end up doing a lot of hugging”.

 NGO coordination meetings will be held daily at 9 a.m. in the Cocal room (third floor of the congress centre).

Volunteers get first exposure to major United Nations congress

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 12 April 2010

Even before the Member States sat down to discuss the items on the official agenda of the Congress, a group of young volunteers started arriving at the ancillary meeting office.
While a real army of volunteers has been recruited by the local authorities to ensure that this international meeting goes smoothly, the ones who showed up on our doorstep this morning are going to work exclusively on the events organized by civil society.

As either interpreters or drafters of reports, they will help ensure that the lessons learned, best practices and research findings of experts and activists are recorded and then shared with criminal justice practitioners and policymakers.

While most of the volunteers come from Brazil (Salvador, but also São Paulo), a group of about eight travelled from Argentina to provide interpretation services. Among them are students of law and young people working for NGOs that reach out to disadvantaged groups.

     

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The Congress centre becomes international territory

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 11 April 2010

At 11 this morning, after an hour-long “handing over” ceremony, the premises of the Congress were officially handed over by the Brazilian authorities to the United Nations. For the duration of the Congress, the centre will be international territory and Brazilian law no longer has jurisdiction over anything that happens on any of these four floors.

The Brazilian flag was removed and the United Nations flag placed in its stead.

United Nations staff, individual experts, journalists and Government representatives came to listen to the Minister of Justice of Brazil, the representative of the State of Bahia and John Sandage, who, as the highest-ranking UNODC officer present at the Congress, is representing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

    

Can NGOs and civil society really have an impact through UN conferences?

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 9 April 2010

It’s a question I’ve often asked myself. Sometimes the answer seems, unequivocally, “yes!”, but other times I am less sure. While there is no doubt that civil society (NGOs, think tanks, loose groups of citizens) make valuable contributions, I wonder whether they are really able to shake up the discourse between governments. The meetings of the G8 and the World Trade Organization, for example, are so often accompanied by violent protests that the distance between “ordinary” citizens and Governments seems insurmountable.

At the two crime congresses organized by the United Nations that I’ve been involved in, I have been surprised by the degree to which NGOs are integrated in conference events. This seems particularly true at this edition of the Congress, as civil society but also the United Nations and certain Government organizations are all involved in the ancillary meetings.

To explore the issue of NGO influence, I e-mailed Gary Hill, who has played a key role in organizing the involvement of non-governmental entities in the Congress, and Mirella Dummar-Frahi, UNODC Civil Affairs Officer.

When I asked Gary whether NGOs can really influence the discussion, he wrote: “YES! Official UN resolutions, conventions and standards for the transfer of sanctions, victims and restorative justice are just a few of the issues which originated in the NGO community and have become part of official UN documents and policies”. And Mirella stresses that civil society’s participation in the international debate “is crucial to bring reality and experience to policymakers and to report what actually happens on the ground”.

As Gary reminds us, “the United Nations General Assembly and the Crime Commission have made it very clear that input from NGOs and civil society is critical if the UN crime prevention and criminal justice programme is to have an impact in making our world safer and more humane”.

Let’s see what happens at the Congress next week.

About the Congress

Posted in Uncategorized by 12thcrimecongress on 9 April 2010

The countdown has started: today is my last day at work before I leave for Brazil tomorrow morning and it’s only three days to the start of the Congress. Since I’m not on site yet, below is some official information (some of it taken from the press kit prepared by the United Nations Information Service in Vienna and shown in the picture).

The Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is a global forum bringing together a diverse gathering of policymakers and practitioners in crime prevention and criminal justice.

Between 12 and 19 April 2010, government representatives will meet in Salvador, Brazil, to discuss a wide range of issues, including youth and crime, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, money-laundering, corruption, cybercrime and violence against migrants. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, based in Vienna, acts as secretariat of the Congress. For the official agenda, click here.

In addition, over 70 so-called “ancillary” meetings will be held by experts from research institutes affiliated with the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, think tanks and other entities working on issues related to crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law. Some of their presentations will be on issues that are already on the agenda to be discussed by governments (youth and crime, for example), while others are not (victims’ rights is one). For more information about the workshops and presentations offered, click here.