Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on Agenda Item 110/111: General Discussion on Drugs and Crime

Mordica Simpson
ECOSOC Advisor
United States
New York City
October 4, 2018



Thank you, Mr. Chair. The United States is acutely focused on combating the challenges posed by transnational organized crime and illicit drugs. We are experiencing a devastating opioid crisis that is killing thousands of Americans every year. In 2017 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, estimates that more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, and of those deaths, more than forty percent involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl. These are staggering numbers.

The nature of the world drug problem has changed. Criminals are developing new substances at a rate faster than national and international frameworks can respond. Traffickers have exploited the boom in global access to information and technology to facilitate their lethal trade. Illegal drug producers exploit the perceived anonymity and convenience of the Internet and other emerging information and communications technologies to market and sell aggressively to global clients, including directly to American drug users. Due to the extreme potency of synthetic opioids in particular, it is highly profitable to traffic deadly drugs in small quantities through international mail and express consignment shipments. Criminal misuse of these tools make today’s illicit drug trade highly profitable and difficult to monitor, investigate, and disrupt.

That is why we must work together as an international community and coordinate our efforts to address and counter the ever-evolving world drug problem. Thank you to all 130 countries who joined us in signing onto the Call to Action to recommit to our efforts to combat illicit drugs. We trust that the commitment to addressing this problem demonstrated by world leaders will energize the international community to take concrete action, and we look forward to working with you on this issue.

The United States has a global interest and indeed, imperative, to help create a future where all nations can be prosperous and secure. Through international cooperation, we can work toward achieving these goals. Criminals do not respect political boundaries or legal jurisdictions, so our prosecutors and investigators must increasingly look outside their own borders to find evidence, witnesses, and stolen assets. Fortunately, we as a community already have the tools through international treaties and legal instruments to address these ever changing threats. Each nation must exercise political will to utilize these to ensure we are collaborating across jurisdictions to stop the criminals before they harm our citizens.

The United States, in fact, has leveraged these existing international frameworks to address the common threat of transnational crime. Since 2005, the United States has relied on the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime more than 650 times as a legal basis to provide or request mutual legal assistance, extradition, and other forms of international cooperation with nearly 97 countries. We also have invested heavily in helping others use this treaty effectively.

We commend the ongoing work of the UN Intergovernmental Expert Group on Cybercrime in Vienna. As we engage in debate here in Third Committee on cybercrime and other law enforcement priorities, it is critical that Member States focus on reinforcing – and not undermining or duplicating – this Expert Group’s leading role in the UN system.

In this context, we welcome the decision by the Government of Italy to sponsor this year’s UNGA Third Committee omnibus resolution on crime prevention and criminal justice. The United States views this resolution as the proper vehicle for all negotiations in Third Committee on law enforcement and criminal justice matters. We urge all Member States to direct proposals for new language on specific forms of crime – including, but not limited to cybercrime – into this “omnibus” resolution, and to avoid an unnecessary proliferation of resolutions about different types of crime at the General Assembly.

We know that most solutions to drugs and crime will be found not by diplomats in the United Nations like us, but by doctors in emergency rooms that are flooded with overdose victims; police officials who respond to murders; investigators who trace links between drug traffickers, money laundering, and terrorists; and prosecutors who ensure that victims receive justice. The United States is committed to making sure they succeed.