Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus
Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the 3rd Committee
Human Rights Question, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

November 17, 1997

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

As this is the first time that my delegation takes the floor, allow me to congratulate you, and the other members of the Bureau, on your well deserved election.

I shall be brief, limiting myself to a few remarks, since my delegation aligned itself with the relevant statement of the European Union.

First of all we would like to thank the Secretary-General for the various reports under consideration and to commend the Under Secretary-General, Mr. Pino Arlacchi, for the comprehensive presentation of the agenda items under discussion.

Mr. Chairman,

Even though crime is not a new phenomenon, the increased importance attached to it over the past decade, stems from the fact that it has become more organized and has spread its operations around the globe. Organized crime, including drugs, money laundering and terrorism pose a threat to political and economic stability.

The main driving force behind most organized crime is the pursuit of financial gain. Hence, implementing effective measures to prohibit the concealment and eventual utilization of the proceeds of criminal actions is considered to be a means of fighting crime itself.

In this regard my delegation attaches great importance to further strengthening the U.N. Preventive and Criminal Justice Programme, including follow-up action to the Naples Political Declaration and the Global Action Plan against organized transnational crime.

My Government's determination to deal with organized crime, is reflected in its participation in 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 engaged in a structured dialogue with the European Union, which covers these issues. 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.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning to 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.

Trafficking and consumption of narcotic drugs reached every corner of the globe, despite increased efforts by the international community to combat the drug abuse. The Special Session of the UN General Assembly on International Drug Control in June 1998 constitutes an effective way to focus attention on this question and gives the opportunity to all states to reaffirm their commitment to drug control. However, to remain effective, both political support and sufficient financial resources are required.

Cyprus remains fully committed to the course of fighting against drugs as proven by the measures taken by the Cyprus Government. However, because of the continuous occupation of 37% of Cyprus territory, my Government is not in a position to exercise control over the whole island.

My delegation takes this opportunity to welcome the establishment of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. We view this integrated approach to drug control and criminal justice along with the appointment of Mr. Pino Arlacchi as the Head of this Office as strengthening the UN's efforts in addressing this issue. In this context, we would like through you Mr. Chairman, to assure Mr. Arlacchi of my Government's continuous support to his Office, as the main coordinator of international efforts aimed at confronting the drug problem. We would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Mr. Giorgio Giacomelli for his commitment to drug control.

Mr. Chairman,

Given Cyprus' geographical location, in the crossroads of three continents, making it susceptible of drug trafficking, less and less drugs are being transferred through Cyprus due to the continuous efforts of my government in the fight against drugs.

However, midway through the Decade Against Drug Abuse, while much has been achieved, the drug abuse remains a serious threat to our society, our families, our kids.

In conclusion, we would like Mr. Chairman, to stress once again the importance of a coordinated international approach to deal with the global dimensions of organized crime and drug control.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.