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Opening remarks by Italy’s Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Gianluca Greco at “The Challenges Imposed By Organized Crime in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and Internet” event organized by the Magna Grecia Foundation


Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Dear Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to open this meeting.
Today’s topic is particularly urgent so much so that it was recently brought front and center of the Security Council’s open debate and reaffirming our commitment to fighting this heinous crime, I wish to echo the sentiments expressed by the Secretary-General on the same occasion, and I quote: “Transnational organized crime is a vicious threat to peace, security and sustainable development wherever it operates. And it operates everywhere – in all countries, rich and poor, North and South, developed and developing”.

The pervasive use of the internet and information technology have ushered us in the digital age. Information technology has become not only an indispensable means to the exchange of information and access large databases, but it is also a pivotal prerequisite for the development and functioning of the economy and finance, as well as of public institutions.
Against this backdrop, digital crimes should be understood as a downside of technological advancement.

Intensified action of prevention and contrast of illicit activities carried out on the web or reliant on the use of information technologies is imperative while dealing with the virtual domain, where crimes still connected with real world are perpetrated with consequences for the economy and finance.
Evidence abounds on the incredible increase over the past years of illicit activities enabled by technology advancements.

Furthermore, the growing nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism, has generated global concerns: in control of national territories, terrorist groups run criminal economies in conjunction with highly organized TOC network syndicates.
At the international level, the United Nations Security Council has recognized, and expressed concern about the interlinkage between Terrorism and TOC in several of its resolutions, the more recent being resolution 2462.
Apart from the TOC activities mentioned above, terrorists continue to have access to other sources of finances and logistics. Most of these sources are noted to be outside the formal financial systems and the use of virtual currencies such as cryptocurrencies and Bitcoins is becoming increasingly alarming.

At the mentioned 2019 United Nations Internet Governance Forum, several world leaders stressed the necessity to talk about the values of internet governance, highlighting the need to agree on how to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the digital age, how to strengthen equal participation and security of the web.
While there is no specific UN Sustainable Development Goal to address cybercrime, the latter can be seen as an obstacle to achieving a number of targets. One of them is SDG 16, Peace, justice and strong institutions, and its subgoals which relate to violence and other forms of crime, such as corruption and arms trafficking.
This is why, in 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on “countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes”, which introduces an Ad Hoc Committee. The committee was announced to elaborate a comprehensive international convention with the aim of creating a new international treaty on cybercrime.

If adopted by the UN General Assembly, it would be the first binding UN instrument on a cyber issue. The treaty could become an important global legal framework for international cooperation on preventing and investigating cybercrime, and prosecuting cybercriminals.
Moreover, this convention could also complement existing treaties on transnational organized crime and corruption, since offences covered by other instruments such as UNCAC and UNTOC are greatly facilitated and aggravated by the development and expansion of the use of new technologies.
Lastly, the convention could help build the capacity of countries with less experience in tackling cybercrime and provide the basis for technical assistance.

At the same time, the convention must foresee human rights safeguards, in order to avoid the risk of potentially undermining the right to privacy and other fundamental rights.
After six negotiating sessions Convention is now expected to be finally within reach, with a reconvened and conclusive session to be held in July: progress achieved so far, show the willingness of each member state to bridge the gaps and increase the likelihood of achieving consensus at the end of the process.
In conclusion, I would like to mention that Italy, just a few weeks ago, submitted for approval of the General Assembly the resolution on “International Day for the Prevention of and Fight against All Forms of Transnational Organized Crime”. Approved by consensus, it serves as an important platform to raise awareness and promote coordinated efforts to combat transnational organized crime.

Our draft resolution has proposed 15 November as the designated date for the International Day, in line with the adoption of the Palermo Convention by the General Assembly. This symbolic date reminds us of our collective commitment to uphold the principles enshrined in the Convention.
The International Day is also a solemn occasion to pay tribute to the victims of transnational organized crime, including the brave public servants who have dedicated their lives to fighting it. Their sacrifices must not go unnoticed, and this day provides an opportunity to pay tribute to their unwavering commitment and bravery.

I thank you.