Statement by the Representative of Cyprus
to the 3rd Committee Mr. Demetris Hadjiargyrou
on Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and Drug Control
As this is the first time that my delegation takes the floor in the deliberations of the Third Committee, allow me to extend to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the Members of the Bureau our congratulations on your well-deserved election.
Since my delegation has already aligned itself with the statement of the European Union representative, I will limit myself to a few remarks on the issues related to the two items.
First and foremost I would like to pay tribute to the United Nations for its considerable efforts in the area of crime prevention and international drug control and to thank the Secretary-General for the various reports prepared under his guidance dealing with these most important issues.
My delegation especially welcomes the work carried out by the Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, under the able leadership of its Executive Director, Mr. Pino Arlacchi, and reiterates its full support to the efforts of the UN International Drug Control Program and the Center for International Crime Prevention.
Organized crime, whether in its national or transnational form and, more often than not, associated with the illicit trafficking and distribution of narcotics, constitutes a grave danger to the entire spectrum of civilized societies throughout the globe. It has the capability to destroy individual lives, as well as, entire communities and in certain cases can cause immense damage to the social fabric of whole cities or even states.
Organized crime, by its very nature, is an affront to humanity and as such it requires wholehearted and at the same time relentless efforts by the international community in order to contain it.
My Government's determination to deal with organized crime, is reflected in its ratification of the United Nations Conventions, aiming at increased international cooperation on criminal justice matters. At the same time Cyprus participates in the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, and the European Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime.
Cyprus is also closely cooperating, in this respect, with the European Union in its capacity as an associated country. In addition, we have concluded bilateral agreements with most of our neighboring and other countries, aiming particularly at combating transnational crime and drug trafficking. On the local level, Cyprus hosts full time liaison officers from 17 countries and cooperates with INTERPOL and other Agencies, since my Government attaches great importance to the broader exchange of information and intelligence.
On the question of international drug control, my delegation shares the view that the problem of narcotic drugs is of significant importance on a global level. Over the past two decades, the spread of illicit drugs has assumed unprecedented proportions. No nation has remained immune to the devastating effects of drug abuse. Implementation of the relevant international instruments and enhancement of the role of the UN are essential in this struggle.
Cyprus welcomes the outcome of the Twentieth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on drugs, and the three documents that were adopted. The special session registered, on one hand, the will of the international community, at the threshold of the third millennium, to confront the drug problem and on the other to provide the impetus for a sustained action whose central component is effective cooperation on various levels - international, national and local.
The efforts of the international community, however, will not lead to the desired results unless we face up to the root causes of the problem. Poverty and socio-economic imbalances, unemployment, lack of opportunities in education and the alienation so often prevalent in urban society must be urgently addressed to preclude the slide into the abyss of drug abuse. Effective action to reduce consumption of drugs must be combined with efforts on a national and an international level to reduce the production of crops. Alternative development and crop substitution should be actively assisted together with programs of rehabilitation and social reintegration for drug addicts. It is also imperative that police and judicial cooperation be steadily enhanced to pursue those profiting from the sales of narcotics.
Although Cyprus is a relatively drug-free society, the specter of the infiltration of drugs into our culture, is a threat that we do not underestimate. That is why Cyprus has already in place a national policy to combat drugs with an information campaign that drives home the message that drugs constitute a mortal danger. We are determined to confront the issue before it becomes a problem. To that effect a national committee for the prevention of trafficking and use of illicit drugs was established with the purpose of coordinating and providing consultation in matters of prevention and information.
As a major transshipment point in the eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia we are cognizant of the fact that Cyprus could very well be used by the drug cartels for funneling drugs into Europe. That is why the Government in cooperation with other countries, that have a vested interest in intercepting the flow of drugs into Europe, is actively pursuing a policy of customs controls.
Another area in which Cyprus is pursuing a preemptive policy in order to safeguard against the possible use of our country by the crime syndicates, is that of money laundering, an area in which the UNDCP and many governments are focusing their efforts in order to counter the world drug problem The efforts of my Government have received international recognition. As stated in a recent US State Department Report "The Cyprus government was extremely active in 1997 in its efforts to implement provisions of its 1996 anti-money-laundering legislation". Similarly the Report of UNDCP dated 29 May 1998 points out that "Cyprus has strengthened its regulatory framework and increased its capacity for financial monitoring" while the Council of Europe in a report of its Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures dated 9 June 1998, states that "Cyprus is to be congratulated on the very comprehensive legal framework that has been put in place" which is as the report continues "significantly in advance of any country in its geographical sub-region."
These references do justice to my Government's concerted efforts, including the establishment of a unit for combating money laundering, and they testify to our desire to prevent the use of Cyprus' extensive financial service sector from laundering money derived from illegal activities. The example of Cyprus proves that with determination and cooperation a flourishing offshore center, like ours, can be at the forefront of international efforts for combating drugs and money laundering.
Cyprus remains fully committed to the course of fighting against drugs and the illegal activities associated with this problem, as proven by the measures taken by the Cyprus Government. Unfortunately, however, my government due to the continuous occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic cannot exercise effective control in the occupied area in which serious criminal activity is reported to be taking place.
As the pace of globalization is becoming more rapid, organized crime and the business of the drug cartels will undoubtedly attempt to grow with it. No nation on earth is immune from this threat. That is why Cyprus as a small state considers it imperative that the answer to this problem lay in the strengthening of international cooperation. In this respect, I assure you, Mr. Chairman, that my Government is fully committed to working with regional and international actors to make the world a safer and better place to live in.