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Transnational Crime Convention
Describe the role and function of the Transnational Organised Crime Convention and the Convention’s relationship to its Protocols
The Transnational Organised Crime Convention is a multi-lateral convention established by the United Nations in December 2000 with the expressed aim of demonstrating the “political will to answer a global challenge with a global response.” It should consequently be seen as formal recognition that the new security problems posited by the advent of the era of globalisation (aided and abetted by the proliferation of new technology) currently reside beyond the scope of any one sovereign nation-state.
It should also be understood as a collective response by western liberal democracies to the growing threat posed by ‘new’ dangers to international security including both transnational crime and terror. The Convention therefore plays an important political role in uniting member state actors against all aggressive non-state actors that look to destabilise international and regional security.
The Convention also ought to be understood to be playing a key symbolic role in light of the UN’s ongoing fight against human rights abuses taking place across the globe with the perpetuation of global organised crime in the guise of people trafficking (including the trafficking of sex workers and children) posing one of the greatest contemporary threats to the cause of human rights. When one recalls that the UN was established primarily to prevent a reoccurrence of the human rights abuses which characterised the Holocaust, we can see how important the role and function of the Transnational Organised Crime Convention is to the broader mandate of the United Nations.
As with other UN Conventions (such as the Convention on the Rights of a Child or the Convention on Climate Change), the primary function of the Transnational Organised Crime Convention is to promote cooperation across member states so as to curtail the spread of transnational crime. The Convention is therefore “essentially an instrument of international cooperation. Its purpose is to promote intra-state cooperation to combat transnational crime.” Thus, the Protocols constitute the ideological backbone to the Convention and its incumbent mission to provide a political response to the global problem of transnational crime.
However, as is the case with other UN Conventions, we ought to understand the difference between establishing protocols and laying down a law as well as the difference between encouraging intra-state cooperation and making international legal reform a reality in the contemporary world order thus, while the Convention and its protocols are able to effectively define what transnational crime is as well as underline the best ways of tackling it, the Convention cannot enforce international law. This, in the final analysis, remains one of the major problems in fighting contemporary transnational crime – a problem that the United Nations seems at present completely unable to resolve.
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