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Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

The objective of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is to improve the capacity of States parties to combat organized crime and to promote and review the implementation of the Convention.

More specifically, article 32 (3) of the Convention provides examples of mechanisms that can be used by COP to reach its objectives:

  • Facilitate activities by States parties for training and technical assistance, implementation of the Convention, and prevention, including by encouraging the mobilization of voluntary contributions;
  • Facilitate the exchange of information among States parties on patterns and trends in transnational organized crime and on successful practices for combating it;
  • Cooperate with relevant international and regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations;
  • Review periodically the implementation of the Convention;
  • Make recommendations to improve the Convention and its implementation.

COP is the most comprehensive body dealing with transnational organized crime within the United Nations.

Working Groups

One of the most distinct features of COP is the activity of Working Groups which have been established to deal with specific issues relating to the Organized Convention or its Protocols.

Working Groups as consultative bodies that focus on specific areas, hold substantive discussions on practical issues, make recommendations that are submitted to COP for further decision-making. They also assist in the implementation of the mandates with regard to the Organized Convention itself and its protocols. For instance, Working Groups dedicated to the protocols of the Organized Crime Convention (e.g., Working Group on Trafficking in Persons and Working Group on the Smuggling of Migrants) have been very active in promoting the ratification and implementation of those instruments.

Working groups meet at various times during the year and can convene concurrently with regular sessions of COP.

Figure 14.4 The Structure of the Work of the Conference of the Parties to the Organized Crime Convention

Attendees and Outcomes of COP and Working Groups

Attendees of COP are made up of participants and observers. The participants are those States parties that have signed and ratified the Organized Crime Convention. Aside from the States parties, a number of observers are allowed to attend COP, including:

  • The signatories and non-signatories;
  • The United Nations Secretariat;
  • International organizations;
  • Non-governmental organizations.

Working Groups and COP usually produce the following outcome documents:

  • Decisions that deal with procedural matters.
  • Resolutions that address technical matters within the scope of the Organized Crime Convention.
  • Reports contain summaries of the deliberations.

The States parties are expected to make every effort to adopt resolutions by consensus. To date, all resolutions have been adopted by consensus at COP and Working Groups, despite the existence of rules for voting procedures. When no consensus is reached, the text is either amended or withdrawn.

The status and functions of attendees, procedure of deliberations and voting, among other aspects, are governed by the Rules of Procedure for Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime Convention. UNODC acts as the secretariat of COP and Working Groups.

It is also relevant to point out that, similarly to the Organized Crime Convention, the Convention against Corruption has its own policy-making body, namely the Conference of the States Parties (COSP), which supports States parties and signatories in their implementation of the Convention, and gives policy guidance to UNODC to develop and implement anti-corruption activities. Much like the COP, the COSP has its own Working Groups, focusing on specific thematic areas, such as the Working Group on Prevention and the Working Group on Asset Recovery. Finally, the implementation of the United Nations international drug control treaties is monitored by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an independent and quasi-judicial body established in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961.