Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] Antonio Maria Costa on Monday opened a UN conference on international crime prevention by warning of the inadequacies of the current international crime control system. Costa indicated that organized crime is gaining economic strength [press release] and that countries must find ways to disrupt the international criminal market. In particular, Costa warned about the inadequacies of dealing with new threats against the environment, identity theft, and Internet crimes as well as the traditional threats of piracy, kidnapping, and slavery. Members of the conference were also urged to utilize the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime [materials] protocol adopted in 2000 as an important mechanism in crime prevention.
Costa's statements come two months after the EU released a report [JURIST report] detailing organized crime in Bulgaria and Romania and the steps the countries must take to gain full rights under the EU. That assessment echoed statements made in previous progress reports [materials; JURIST report]. In January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania officially joined the EU [JURIST report] following six years of accession negotiations. Both countries have been required to comply with a series of benchmarks; failing to do so could result in EU intervention and the potential loss of economic aid under Articles 36-38 of the Act of Accession [text], which lays out safeguard mechanisms [EC backgrounder] in the event of problems posing a threat to the functioning of the EU.