Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message to the ministerial event marking the twentieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, held today:

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which is marking its twentieth anniversary, recognizes the global, cross-border nature of organized crime and provides tools to address it.

Today, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis is presenting criminals with new opportunities to exploit the marginalized and at‑risk.  International cooperation through the Convention and its Protocols on human trafficking, migrant smuggling and illegal firearms is more necessary than ever to promote the rule of law, tackle links between organized crime and terrorism, support victims and protect human rights.

The recent Conference of Parties to the Convention, in Vienna, addressed key challenges posed by falsified medicines, trafficking in cultural property, environmental crime and more.  Governments also launched a new mechanism for reviewing the Convention’s implementation.

I urge you to use this important resource to identify gaps and to better target technical assistance as we work together to limit organized crime and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Convention represents a near‑universal instrument that can help countries strengthen justice responses and improve coordination to protect people and the planet.

I wish you a successful meeting as you reaffirm commitments and reinforce action.  Thank you.

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