posted on Fri 5 May 2017 12:41 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting on “International Cooperation in Criminal Matters within the Peace and Security Pillar: the Role of Central Authorities”

On Monday morning (8 May), Italy will chair an Arria-formula meeting on “International Cooperation in Criminal Matters within the Peace and Security Pillar: the Role of Central Authorities”, with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The meeting will be open to the wider UN membership, UN entities, international organisations and civil society.

Karen Kramer, Senior Drug Control and Crime Prevention Officer at UNODC, and David Sharia, Chief of Branch, Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), are expected to brief. Also briefing will be three prosecutors in national jurisdictions: Mike Chibita, Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda; Vincente Gonzáles Mota of the Public Prosecution Office of the National Court of Spain; and Maurizio Romanelli of the National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Public Prosecution Office of Italy.

The backdrop for this meeting is resolution 2322 of 12 December 2016 on international judicial cooperation in countering terrorism. The resolution calls on states to cooperate on administrative, police and judicial matters to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, including preventing terrorists from making use of transnational organised criminal networks. Among other things, the resolution focuses on aspects of enhancing mutual legal assistance in criminal matters related to counter-terrorism, including by designating mutual legal assistance and extradition central authorities, and ensuring that such authorities have adequate resources, training and legal authority, in particular for terrorism-related offences.

In addition, resolution 2322 urges states to consider ratification and implementation of international conventions to support international cooperation in criminal matters, such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Mutual legal assistance is an important element of the UNTOC, which calls on states to designate a central authority that shall have the responsibility and power to receive requests for mutual legal assistance and execute them (there are 187 parties to the treaty). More recently, on 7 November 2016, the Conference of the Parties to the Organized Crime Convention passed a resolution on “enhancing the effectiveness of central authorities in international cooperation in criminal matters to counter transnational organized crime” (resolution 8/1, CTOC/COP/2016/15).

Ahead of the meeting, Italy circulated a concept note that provides further background on the issue and lays out the main objectives of the discussion. According to the concept note, the international community considers mutual legal assistance a cornerstone of preventing and combating transnational organised crime. Integral to mutual legal assistance are capable central authorities for receiving, executing and transmitting mutual legal assistance requests.

The meeting is expected to provide an opportunity to address practical difficulties regarding mutual legal assistance in domestic jurisdictions and to discuss the assistance provided to member states by entities such as the UNODC, focusing on the capabilities and effectiveness of central authorities. UNODC and CTED are expected to brief Council members on their efforts to build the national capacity of central authorities. The three prosecutors will most likely relay their own experiences from their domestic legal systems on the work of central authorities, and outline how strengthening their capacities can assist with countering transnational organised crime and terrorism. In particular, Italy hopes the meeting will provide a platform for discussion on national and regional challenges that hamper international cooperation on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, ways to advance international cooperation through good practices, and the role of informal networks of international cooperation in assisting national central authorities.