Magazine article UN Chronicle , Vol. 22
Seventh Crime Congress tackles problems of world-wide crime, adopts Milan Plan of Action
Current world-wide problems of crime--terrorism, organized crime, drug abuse, computer crime, government corruption, domestic violence and the situation of crime victims-- were the focus of the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.
At a two-week session (26 August-6 September) held in Milan, Italy, the Congress adopted the Milan Plan of Action, recommending that the international community give priority to combating terrorism and continued attention to improving criminal justice systems. These systems should be responsive to the diversity of political, economic and social systems, the Congress said, asking Governments to accord high priority to strengthening crime prevention mechanisms and allocating adequate resources to that end.
Three other international instruments were adopted, relating to the application of norms and standards of criminal justice: Guiding Principles for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in the Context of Development and a New International Economic Order; Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary; and Model Agreement on the Transfer of Foreign Prisoners and Recommendations on the Treatment of Foreign Prisoners.
Two other international instruments were approved for adoption by the General Assembly. They are the Draft Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice, and United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice ("The Beijing Rules').
Also approved by the Congress were 25 resolutions which covered a broad range of crime-related issues. All texts were adopted without a vote.
The Congress brought together internationally recognized experts from 124 States, including high-level policy-makers and administrators, criminologists, penologists, criminal law specialists, human rights advocates, social workers and other professionals concerned with different aspects of crime prevention and criminal justice.
The Crime Congresses meet every five years to promote and strengthen international co-operation in the field of crime prevention and control. The six previous Congresses were held at Geneva (1955 and 1975); London (1960); Stockholm (1965); Kyoto, Japan (1970); and Caracas (1980).
The Milan Plan of Action contains a set of recommendations described as "essential elements of an effective plan of action' for consideation by the General Assembly this year. In the Plan, the Congress asks that the Secretary-General review the functioning and programme of work of the United Nations in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice in order to establish priorities and to ensure the responsiveness of the United Nations to emerging needs. Also recommended is "the immediate establishment in Africa of the long-delayed regional institute for the prevention of crime and treatment of offenders'.
In an introductory section, the text states that crime prevention and criminal justice should be considered in the context of economic development, political systems, social and cultural values and social change, as well as in the context of a new international economic order.
Interested Governments are asked to co-operate bilaterally and multilaterally, to the fullest extent possible, with a view to strengthening crime prevention measures and the criminal justice process.
"It is imperative to launch a major effort to control and eventually eradicate the destructive phenomena of illicit drug traffic and abuse and of organized crime, both of which disrupt and destabilize societies', the Plan states.
Another recommendation calls for continued attention to the improvement of criminal justice systems so as to enhance their responsiveness to changing conditions and requirements in society and to the new dimensions of crime and criminality. …