The following section was included in Global Crime: An Encyclopedia of Cyber Theft, Weapons Sales, and Other Illegal Activities [2 volumes] published in 2018.
The Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (the Alliance) is a global network of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their representatives active with the United Nation’s Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Alliance is a substantive committee of the Conference of NGOs (CoNGO) with its focus on crime prevention and criminal justice. It is also one of the three major civil society partners of the UNODC.
The Alliance framework for action is very broad to match that of the UNODC-led Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) and foster civil society engagement on all the issues addressed. The Alliance brings to the attention of the CCPCJ new insights, emerging opportunities, and promising practices, as well as provide and promote civil society accountability roles. At its heart, the Alliance works to ensure that the innovative contributions to global policy arising through civil society activism, can be heard, adapted, and adopted by those with the mandate to lead the global response. The Alliance does this through highlighting worthy social policy initiatives, information sharing, advocacy of specific causes and programs, and by providing learning and partnering platforms.
The goals of the Alliance necessitate its member NGO representatives be effective advocates, experts, and activists in the intergovernmental arenas of global policy making, program development, and treaty monitoring. To strengthen its members as engaged and effective global actors, the Alliance works to provide the latest information on UNODC related developments and meetings and to promote NGO representatives’ understanding of the UN, how it works, decides, and is evolving in our increasingly technology driven digital world.
Most of the Alliance’s high performing members have consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and some are also associated with the UN’s Department of Public Information (DPI). In reality, NGOs effective in this arena are a rarified few, and yet, as the effects of globalization increase, UN funding becomes further stretched to mount effective response analyses, strategies and on the ground programs. This has become especially evident when confronting large scale entangled transnational issues, such as human trafficking. As this and other transglobal criminal and socially undermining activities continue to confound the UN and its Member States, precise, informed support of civil society actors has never been more essentially and vitally needed.
The main intergovernmental meetings in which Alliance members are active include: the annual Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the annual Conference of States Parties to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), and the quinquennial Crime Congress. Members are also key in observing the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.
Alliance Chairs are often invited to speak on behalf of their members during High Level Meetings, Special Sessions of the General Assembly, and other special gatherings on high-profile issues and annual report launches hosted by UNODC
The Alliance first formed in1972 in New York City prior to the formation of UNODC. It was organized at the instigation of William Clifford, the first Chief of the then Social Defense Section (now the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch) of ECOSOC. The Alliance was chaired by G.O.W. Mueller of the New York University during its early years.
The Alliance was a small but powerful coalition of major NGOs with consultative status to ECOSOC and dedicated to crime prevention and criminal justice improvements. With the formation of UNODC and its subsequent move to Vienna in 1997, NGOs with representatives in Austria became more active.
Since its inception, the Alliance has laid great emphasis on the elaboration and application of the UN minimum rules for justice administration, and has contributed towards the following and more: monitoring the implementation of standards, development of the Restorative Justice Handbook, addressing issues of border control, changing and updating policies on victims such as in femicide, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, weapons control, etc.
Many NGO representatives active in the Alliance have contributed to the global work of crime prevention and criminal justice including: special representatives to the Secretary-General, consultants to the UN, primary actors in international governmental organizations, and as leaders in their own nation’s crime prevention and criminal justice arenas.
ORGANIZATION AND MEMBERSHIP
Originally, Alliance members were all organizations with ECOCSOC or DPI status. Today, the Alliance has a range of membership levels, involving individual members and organizations without formal UN status operating as associate members. This evolution of the Alliance started early on, escalating changes in 1997 with the formalization of the UNODC and its headquartering in Vienna. Now ten years into the mobile digital revolution, organizational and membership mechanisms are creating challenges and making new opportunities possible.
The Alliance historically met on the first Friday of every second month in New York City and this lasted until 2012. Since 1997, the NGOs meet in Vienna and liaised through the UNODC’s Civil Society Team and connect directly to the Member State Missions to the UN in Vienna.
The two arms of the Alliance now embrace and support its worldwide membership. Those in Vienna sustain the Alliance presence and engagement there while the international office operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area brings today’s technology-oriented resources and practices to the Alliance. The Alliance’s disparate membership currently connect through blended and online meetings, information exchange, and social media. Alliance members in the USA also ensure the civil society voice is heard in New York at relevant UNHQ’s meetings of the UNODC, ECOSOC and/or the General Assembly.
With an increasing number of NGO activists innovating on issues relevant to crime prevention and criminal justice and gaining awareness of their possible contribution, the Alliance is responding by providing advocacy capacity resources for NGO representatives new to the intergovernmental arena. Even when NGO representatives have requisite expertise and a vested interest in helping formulate global policy and monitoring Member States adherence to international agreements, effective meaningful presence in intergovernmental environments is yet another learning curve to master.
WORKING PARTIES AND FOCAL POINTS
The substantive work of the Alliance is largely accomplished through its working parties. These form and dissolve around specific objectives. They develop their own rules of engagement, meeting schedules, objectives, resources, and teams. Working Parties report to the larger Alliance community and share their resources and achievement through meetings and articles on the Alliance website: www.CPCJAlliance.org.
Working parties have organized around: restorative justice, transnational border crime and technology, victims, corruption, religion and violent extremism, and more. They have been initiators of and major contributors to UNODC handbooks such as the Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes and the series of six Femicide Reports that also contributed to passing General Assembly resolution /68/191 on “Taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls.”
Working parties have also produced Civil Society Statements for distribution during the Congresses, Commissions, and other international meetings. In recent years, statements were made at the Conference of States Parties to the UNCAC Marrakech, Morocco (2011); as part of the UN General Assembly Thematic Debate on “Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development,” UNHQ, NY (2012); the Doha Civil Society Declaration (2015) contribute to the 2015 Crime Congress; and at the High-Level Debate on the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime at UNHQ (2017). These interventions help shape global conversations on emerging trends and issues.
A recent change since the 2015 Crime Congress has been to identify focal points for areas of work. These include: corrections and sentencing, corruption, crime prevention, femicide, gender, AI and cybercrime, lawyers/prosecutors, prison chaplains, restorative justice, SDG 16, terrorism prevention, and victims’ rights.
ADAPTATIONS TO GLOBALIZATION & DIGITIZATION
Increasingly, the Alliance works to maximize the impact of civil society experts by leveraging technology and facilitating new conversations, information sharing, and innovative action. For example, the Femicide Platform on www.CPCJAlliance.org is the largest online collection of reports, stories, and resources. This organizing mechanism helped develop the Femicide Reports and the related UNGA resolution.
Aware of the growing challenges wrought by transnational crime and further enabled by emerging technologies, the Alliance is newly making use of the synergies possible between all the crime prevention and criminal justice stakeholders in the margins of the various intergovernmental meetings. It is doing so by creating opportunities for professionals, civil society actors, diplomats, and global policy specialists to form focused, “sprint teams” as they gather during annual Crime Commissions, UNTOC Conference of States Parties, etc.
Under the banner of SOLVE2018, Crime Commission participants will engage in sprint-style global strategy development. Teams will form and work through a guided process to incorporate vision, improvisation, thought-experimentation, experience, imagination, and insight to their specific topic. Each will include technical experts and make specific effort to heighten all stakeholder’s awareness of the implications of emerging technologies, both as problem and solution. Teams will also be asked to take a meta-humanity perspective (transnational inclusive of planetary, climatic, wildlife, and space concerns) on their respective intransigent issues.
Facilitating this kind of atypical engagement and innovative approaches to urgent issues has been the main focus of the Alliance throughout its history. The same drive remains alive today, to tap underutilized knowledge and experience resources by turning civil society and private actors into informed global actors and innovators, and so funnel those resources into a more direct contribution to the issues that currently confront the UN. The Alliance will continue to adapt in its work to strengthen the constantly changing partnerships needed for effective responses to global crime.
Malet, David, and Miriam J. Anderson. 2017. Transnational actors in war and peace: militants, activists, and corporations in world politics.
DOHA CIVIL SOCIETY DECLARATION. https://www.cpcjalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Doha-Civil-Society-Forum-Declaration-13th_6pm.doc
FEMICIDE PLATFORM: https://www.cpcjalliance.org/femicide/
FEMICISDE REPORTS Vol. 1 – VI: https://www.cpcjalliance.org/femicide/documents-publications/
HANDBOOK ON RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAMMES: https://www.unodc.org/pdf/criminal_justice/Handbook_on_Restorative_Justice_Programmes.pdf.
SOLVE0218. 2018: https://www.cpcjalliance.org/events/2018solve/.