Transnational organized crime & the Vienna Declaration: opinion editorial by INTERPOL Secretary General

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At the annual international meeting of police leaders from around the world in Vienna this week, whether in crowded groups in the security corridors or on the main stage, every law enforcement agency is talking about one thing: the explosive growth of transnational organized crime.

What every police force knows but the rest of the world fails to realize is the epidemic of transnational organized crime that has now become a global security problem.

Whether people worry about the gang fighting on your street, child sexual exploitation, forced labor, or the drug epidemic, the threat of murder in your neighborhood, what they worry about is transnational organized crime.

And make no mistake – these are not just threats in your community and country – this is happening globally.
The Covid pandemic has precipitated massive societal changes – and nowhere is this more true than in the case of international organized crime.

Criminal groups around the world are using the dark web and other tools to create an entirely new business model – gone are the days of code of silence between tight-knit groups; These criminal groups don’t even know who they are working with and are creating anonymous relationships online.

They are exporting, creating partnerships, bringing together various criminal activities. They are operating under the radar and often undetected, expanding markets globally while at the same time undermining the rule of law and democracy in those countries.

It’s all cyber-enabled, but we’re seeing the rise of cybercrime in one country and the exploitation of people in another – cybercrime for ransom. Vulnerable people are targeted every second of the day by love scams, fraud and password hacking to save their lives.

What are the local police going to do about a criminal 7,000 miles away? After all, what does a well-resourced police service mean when it comes to an anonymous criminal on a different continent? No law enforcement agency, no regional group, no one person can handle this explosion of organized crime on their own.

Transnational organized crime groups are exploiting difficult relations between countries, exploiting conflicts and taking advantage of the fact that law enforcement’s investment in technology far exceeds that of criminals.

In a fragmented world, a more global unified message is a challenge – but no country in the world can cope without more information sharing, more cooperation and giving every community police officer the tools to identify and tackle transnational organized crime. This test on their own.

That is why today at INTERPOL’s annual conference, the centenary conference, we are launching the Vienna Declaration.
This will make it clear to world leaders – on behalf of their police officers – that this explosion, this second pandemic, this transnational organized crime, is a collective, global national security crisis, in which none of our societies can be safe.

Fighting this epidemic can only be achieved through urgent, coordinated global action, greater cooperation between countries and regions, and investment in shared technology. Threats to global security mean that bringing the world together is urgent.

The world faces many challenges – climate change, geopolitical tensions and regional conflicts and it will be tempting for leaders to hope that someone else will find a solution, but this will not happen. We can only deal with this explosion of transnational organized crime if we all do our part.

The first duty of the government is to protect the welfare of the people. This threat is beyond the reach of the world’s law enforcement and security agencies if there is no unity and a solution to it now.

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