The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) is a functional committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is the principal body of the United Nations concerning transnational crime and criminal justice. In the early 1990s, the UN developed a greater interest in criminal justice policy, leading to a recommendation for the creation of the CCPCJ by the UN General Assembly. Its predecessor, the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, was dissolved with the intent of intensifying ‘international cooperation in crime prevention and criminal justice’ and increasing coordination between existing UN agencies. Therefore, in 1992, the ECOSOC established the CCPCJ as a commission of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the passage of Resolution 1992/1. The Commission is composed of 40 member states that serve terms of three years. There are quotas for each region of the world to ensure broad discussion and cooperation. Resolution 1992/22 further defined the priorities of the CCPCJ, including: ‘To plan, implement and evaluate crime prevention and criminal justice assistance projects and to serve as a facilitating agent’with which to assist countries in preventing crime, promoting security, sustaining national development and enhancing justice and respect for human rights.’ With such a guideline, the CCPCJ has adopted thematic discussions ranging from money laundering to crime prevention in urban areas.
Topic A: Preventing Gang Participation Among Youth
In many parts of the world, gangs and organized criminal groups control nearly all aspects of urban life. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime predicts that around 30 percent of all homicides in the Americas are linked to gang violence or organized crime and that young people are disproportionately affected by violent crimes as “over half of all homicide victims globally are under 30 years of age.” However, the issue is not isolated to the Americas. In Italy, for example, mafia-related homicides still make up about 10–15 percent of all homicides. Gang participation is a motivator for a significant portion of human trafficking, violent crimes, and corruption. and Vulnerable youth that experience aggressiveness, academic failure, and poverty are most at risk for gang involvement. Target 16.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to reduce the number of violent deaths around the world, and promoting healthy lifestyles among impressionable youth is an important step towards accomplishing this. The 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice adopted the Doha Declaration in 2015 which emphasized the need for further research and collaboration among member states in sharing effective methods for addressing gang violence, especially in communities with at-risk youth. Even though developing life skills in children, fortifying nurturing relationships, and promoting gender equality from a young age may be some solutions for preventing youth gang participation, proper methods for achieving them are still in question. As the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, we must focus on the prevention aspect of our mandate to ensure the safety of young people living in highly urbanized areas.
Topic B: Ensuring the Equal Treatment of Girls and Women in Justice Systems
Although specifics vary across cultures, women and girls all over the world endure the widespread effects of discrimination and gender-based violence. A staggering 35 percent of women worldwide report experiencing either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the actual number of those affected is likely much larger. In part, this is due to the fact that women face extreme disadvantages in the legal systems of many countries around the world. Women struggle to convince police that a crime was committed in many cases, and even if their attacker does face trial, the ways in which justice systems are set up make it very difficult to convict offenders. Discussions of reform for criminal justice systems often attempt to be gender-blind, ignoring the ways in which women are uniquely disadvantaged compared to men. Without reforms aimed at achieving equality in the legal system, there are many ambitious goals and programs at risk. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” When women are convicted of crimes, they also often face unequal treatment from the justice system. From 2000 to 2016, the global prison population grew by approximately 21 percent, but the number of women and girls grew by 53 percent over that same period. Such a large increase in the number of imprisoned women and girls in less than two decades, raises questions about the codes, functioning of criminal justice systems, and socio-economic factors upholding the criminal justice system. In line with the Bangkok Rules and related international standards and norms, it is our duty as CCPCJ to uphold the standards and values of the criminal justice system in strengthening gender equality in access to justice and prevention of further gender-based violence.