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Drugs - Organised Crime

Drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, and corruption constitute major global issues, which are compounded by deficient border controls, new technologies and the increased mobility of people, capital and business. Over the last 15 years organized crime has increased dramatically and adapts rapidly to new conditions, thus it is able to effectively overcome any new counter-measures. If organized crime is to be prevented and tackled, it is essential that the international legislative framework – mainly founded on the pillars of International Conventions – be effectively implemented:

- the Palermo Convention on transnational organized crime and its three Protocols,
- the United Nations Convention against corruption,
- and the 12 universal Conventions against terrorism.


(i) The legal framework

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961
Our country ratified this Convention in 1972 and its amending Protocol in 1985.

Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971

Our country ratified it in 1976.

The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988
Our country ratified it in 1992.

(ii) UN organizations and agencies

The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the principal body against illicit drugs and international crime was established in 1997, its remit being to assist UN Member States in combating drugs, crime and terrorism.

Two committees have been set up within the UNODC:

1. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is a Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is the central policy-making and operations-coordinating body within the UN on drug-related matters. The 1998 Political Declaration was the basis for substantial progress on dealing with the drugs issue. The Political Declaration is currently under review ahead of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS).

2. The Committee of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) This Committee deals with broader issues such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, transnational organized crime. It also collects data based on questionnaires that it sends to the member states in order to monitor problems and improve conditions within the framework of crime prevention by promoting relevant resolutions.

On the national level, the National Planning and Coordination Committee for Confronting Narcotics (Article 50 of Law 4139/2013, Government Gazette A’ 74) is responsible for drawing up national policy for combating narcotics. This Committee is chaired by the National Coordinator for Confronting Narcotics, who also represents the country in narcotics-related international organs.


Since the end of the Cold War there has been an increase in transnational crime, which has had an adverse effect on peace, development, democracy, good governance and human rights. The links between organized crime and corruption and terrorism pose a significant threat to global security. Organized criminal groups have adapted to the new international reality of globalization, new technology, the internet and international banking practices, and frequently hide behind legitimate activities. One of the principal activities of transnational organized crime continues to be drug trafficking, but also trafficking in other materials (works of art, nuclear waste, etc.). Furthermore, protracted armed conflicts facilitate the growth and activities of transnational organized crime. Transnational organized crime frequently acts through regular channels and uses legitimate enterprises and invests proceeds in legal operations. The relationship between organized crime and terrorism needs to be taken into account, as has already been underscored by the Security Council in its resolutions.

The basic legal framework for fighting transnational crime is provided by the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo, 2000) and its three additional Protocols on a) the prevention, repression and punishment of trafficking in human beings and particularly women and minors, b) the prevention and punishment of facilitating illegal migration, and c) the illegal manufacture and trading of small firearms.

The Convention examines organized crime of all forms as regards its transnational nature – i.e., where the preparation and execution of the crime pertains to more than one country – as well as where the organized groups of criminals tend to act in many countries. The Convention sets out the details for international collaboration in the areas of interrogation, prosecution and extradition in cases of money laundering, corruption and obstruction of justice.

Greece has signed and implements the abovementioned Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto.

III. Corruption

The United Nations Convention against Corruption was signed in 2003, in Merida, Mexico.

Greece has signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption.

The main elements of the Convention are the following:

A. Preventive measures

Prevention occupies a key place in the Convention, with provisions for special measures, policies and practices against corruption, in both the public and private sectors, with special control mechanisms and codes of conduct for civil servants, special provisions for the law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities and the participation of civil society.

B. The Criminalization of corruption and law enforcement

The criminalization of acts of corruption also holds an important place in the Convention. Apart from the classical forms of corruption, Member states are also required to criminalize new types, such as trading in influence and laundering the proceeds of corruption. They are also required to suppress related criminal acts to obstruct justice. The Convention also mentions corruption related to the private sector.

C. International collaboration

The contracting parties, in accordance with the Convention, shall cooperate in issues of corruption, including prevention, investigation and prosecution of the offenders. More specifically, they shall proceed to extradite the offenders within a clearly defined framework and shall provide mutual legal assistance .

D. Recovery of assets derived from corruption

The recovery of assets derived from acts of corruption also occupies a large part of the Convention and constitutes a fundamental principle thereof. This provision is particularly important for developing countries which have a greater need for the resources lost. Just as important is chapter V on issues of detection, international cooperation and defining the beneficiaries and return of confiscated assets.

The International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) was established in 2011 and is based in Vienna. Greece has signed and ratified the relevant Agreement.

Last Updated Wednesday, 03 June 2015