The UNTOC Conference is a biannual event that supports discussions relating to the ratification, progress and implementation of the convention and an opportunity to take stock of the global trafficking situation, current trends and newly identified challenges.
Organised over a week, the UNTOC Conference is a forum for diplomats, representatives of governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations and practitioners from law enforcement and the judiciary to meet and exchange best practice and experience in the fight against illicit trafficking.
The 10th UNTOC Conference was held in a hybrid format between 12 and 16 October 2020. It took place both physically in Vienna, Austria, at the UNODC headquarters and online. CORMS participated in a number of online side events.
Representation of the Global Illicit Flows Programme of the European Union (GIFP)
The GIFP was represented by two projects – CRIMJUST and Countering Firearms Trafficking. On 12/10/2020, CRIMJUST organised one side event: Promoting international cooperation in Controlled Deliveries to tackle transnational drug trafficking, whereas on 14/10/2020, Countering Firearms Trafficking organised two events: Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the entry into force of the Firearms Protocol and Time for universalization and effective implementation with a third event taking place on 15/10/2020: Promoting the Community of Practitioners Countering Firearms Trafficking and Related Crimes. Countering Firearms Trafficking, at their event, Promoting the Community of Practitioners Countering Firearms Trafficking and Related Crimes, presented the concept of the institutionalised and stable Community of Practitioners and organised a discussion with practitioners so as to understand how that wider community could strengthen collaboration.
The CRIMJUST event showcased its work in support of controlled deliveries as an investigation technique involving both law enforcement and judicial actors and as an essential cooperation practice to be further promoted and developed. During this event, representatives of law enforcement and the judiciary praised the support provided by CRIMJUST and its important contribution to trust and capacity building, elements that are crucial to facilitating successful controlled deliveries (read more here).
Other side events
A series of side events was organised for each day (the full agenda can be consulted here). Each event addressed key topics relating to illicit trafficking and highlighted the perspectives of governments, administrations, practitioners and researchers. The below propose a summary some of them and some key topics addressed.
Topics addressed included the impact of organised crime on the independence and integrity of justice and made suggestions as to how to protect the judiciary. The PROMIS project was showcased as an example of an effective cooperation tool that supports international judicial collaboration.
On emerging threats in the field of trafficking, trafficking of illicit medicines has skyrocketed in the light of the pandemic and traffickers have shown a high level of resilience and adapted their criminal methodology to maximise their profits in response to government led strategies to fill vulnerability gaps. Experts put emphasis on the fact that drug trafficking had not been as disrupted as initially thought and that a key issue for the future was to understand the volume of drugs that had been stored by individuals as a result of the pandemic. Last but not least, experts stressed the increased use of the darknet and encrypted message systems that underpin drug trafficking.
The dark web plays a significantly important role in transnational organised crime. Investigating and prosecuting such cases connected with the dark web is complex as it is difficult to properly identify criminal usage as the darknet allows criminals to hide their identity. Criminals operating on the dark web have proven very resilient and developed techniques to remain anonymous and maintain their illicit activities. However, investigating dark net cases does not necessarily involve a high-tech response as the police are gaining more experience and are utilising sound investigative methodology in response.
With regards firearms trafficking, experts insisted on the need to know more about the movement of ammunition, on the basis that a firearm is of no use without ammunition. As there is little or no information about ammunition, a handbook on ammunition profiling is currently being elaborated. Profiling is not tracing, but profiling will allow analysts to work on aggregated data and support proactive informative responses.
Finally, the conceptual framework for the statistical measurement of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) was presented. Measuring IFFs is difficult because, by their very nature, they are hidden. The development of such a framework is an important achievement as the 2030 agenda foresees IFFs as a key indicator to monitor the progress in achieving Special Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular SDG16. Some challenges raised during the development of this concept relate to the definition of an illicit financial flow, defined now as international transfers of; illicitly earned capital or legal capital transferred illicitly or originally legal capital transferred internationally for illegal purpose. The first application of the conceptual framework sheds light on the data-gaps that need to be identified in support of inter-institutional cooperation.