Eighth Crime Congress Looks to 21st Century; International Criminal Court, New Convention Proposed

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Eighth Crime Congress looks to 21st century

The Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders examined international co-operation in crime prevention and criminal justice for the twenty-first century during a two-week session held in Havana, Cuba, from 27 August to 7 September.

Adoption of draft model treaties on extradition, mutual assistance in criminal matters, transfer of proceedings, supervision of offenders and prevention of crimes against cultural property were among the many actions taken by the Congress, which met under the shadow of expected further rapid crime growth during the 1990s and beyond.

Eighty-one speakers addressed the Congress during a five-day general debate on crime prevention and criminal justice in the context of development--one of five major agenda items--held in plenary session.

The four other substantive items--imprisonment, juvenile delinquency, organized crime and terrorism, and UN norms and guidelines--were discussed in two main committees.

Some 1,400 participants from 127 countries, five intergovernmental and 40 non-governmental organizations attended the Congress. Since 1955, crime congresses have been held by the UN every five years.

Margaret J. Anstee, Secretary-General of the Congress and Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV)--the seat of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch--at the final meeting said that the Congress had adopted more resolutions, recommendations, principles and model treaties--some 40 actions--than all prior Congresses put together.

Extensive preparations for the Congress, including a series of interregional and regional meetings, were carried out by the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch of UNOV whose Chief, Eduardo Vetere, served as Executive Secretary of the Congress.

Juan Escalona Reguera, President of Cuba's National Assembly, was elected President of the Eighth Congress.

UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, in a message to the Congress on 27 August, said that crime had been transformed into a "global menace" by technological advances and the internationalization of many activities.

Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, in an opening address, said crime and development were linked and that success in the fight against crime required international co-operation and commitment to the fight against poverty and marginalization.

Viable anti-crime action

In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of UN action in the crime field, the Congress asked the General Assembly to convene a ministerial meeting to decide on a viable future crime prevention and criminal justice programme and to consider the need for a convention to develop that programme. The Assembly was urged to establish an intergovernmental working group to elaborate proposals for the programme and suggest ways to implement it.

The Congress called on Member States to promote criminal sanctions against the dumping of hazardous wastes and consider enacting criminal legislation to protect persons threatened by the deterioration of the environment.

Member States were asked to develop policies to counter urban crime and develop economic policies to reduce crime by combating corruption, drug trafficking and other forms of exploitation. …