'A New Era in Crime Prevention.'

By Shahani, Leticia R. | UN Chronicle, September 1985 | Go to article overview
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'A New Era in Crime Prevention.'

Shahani, Leticia R., UN Chronicle

"A New Era in Crime Prevention'

The United Nations is entering a new era in crime prevention and criminal justice with the successful conclusion of the 1985 Milan Crime Congress, which had as its general theme "Crime prevention for freedom, justice, peace and development'.

The Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, attended by representatives of 125 Governments and observers from United Nations organs, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and individuals, was the largest and by far the most productive of the seven congresses held since 1955.

The Congress was characterized by: the realistic, practical approach taken by Member States; the candid exchange of views; and the use of a regional approach to problem-solving, reflected in the deep involvement of the existing regional institutes in crime prevention and criminal justice and of the regional commissions, as well as in the move to establish an African regional institute to complete a worldwide network of such organizations.

That each decision was adopted by consensus by the Congress deserves special mention. It testifies to the constructive spirit in which all issues were discussed and solutions acceptable to all were worked out. Even in more difficult, and sometimes controversial, matters, the Congress did not resort to voting, although its rules of procedure, like those of other major United Nations congresses, provided for that alternative.

Most important, the Milan Congress charted new ground in many areas and approved unanimously several international instruments of historical significance. Among those were the Milan Plan of Action, a document of relevance and having longterm implications, which will determine the future course of United Nations crime prevention programmes. The Plan, which recalls in its Preamble the Caracas Declaration of 1980, acknowledges that crime is a major problem with national and international dimensions and stresses that criminal justice systems and crime prevention strategies depend on progress achieved in preserving peace, improving social conditions, advancing towards a new international economic order and enhancing the quality of life. On these bases, it recommends priorities not only for prevention and control of the traditional forms of crime, but also for the fight against new dimensions of criminality which are of increasing concern to large segments of the public-- terrorism, organized crime, and illicit drug traffic and abuse.

Closely linked to the Milan Plan of Action are the Guiding Principles for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in the Context of Development and a new international economic order.

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