Cover Image
close this bookThe United Nations and Crime Prevention - Seeking Security and Justice for All (UN, 1996, 170 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction: Seeking security and justice for all
View the documentChapter 1 - A short history of international cooperation against crime
View the documentChapter 2 - The costs of crime
View the documentChapter 3 - The United Nations crime prevention system
View the documentChapter 4 - United Nations Congresses on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders
View the documentChapter 5 - Technical cooperation and advisory services
View the documentChapter 6 - Affiliated and associated institutes
Open this folder and view contentsAppendices: United Nations standards, guidelines and international instruments

Chapter 5 - Technical cooperation and advisory services

Direct services to Governments in the form of advisory services for policy formulation and implementation and training of personnel have been a distinctive aspect of crime prevention and control work since the earliest days of the Organization. A system of advisory services was in place by 1946, antedating much larger and better-known programmes of technical assistance in economic development.

In the years immediately following, the most economically developed, industrialized countries were those that commonly made use of United Nations advisory services. Practically all of the highly developed nations chose senior officials to travel abroad, under United Nations auspices and financing, to observe and consult on practice and policy in other industrialized nations, particularly those with reputations for innovative or progressive programmes. As the composition of the United Nations shifted numerically and geographically, and as its commitment to the needs of the developing world intensified, it became customary to concentrate on the needs of the less affluent countries.

Not only the range of countries receiving assistance but also the scope of the programmes themselves has broadened over the years. Requests for expertise early on tended to focus on highly specific areas, such as the introduction of juvenile courts, open penal institutions, new forms of probation and so on. Now there is greater interest in examining the totality of Governments' efforts in coping with crime, and growing recognition that crime and society's approach to it are intimately bound to the socio-economic fabric of a country.

Two major objectives can be served through technical assistance and advisory services: strengthening the criminal justice systems of Governments, often overwhelmed by outbreaks of crime and a multiplicity of development imperatives, and advancing new policies. Under real-life circumstances, theory and practice tend to go hand in hand. The training of personnel leads to an analysis of current practice and how it may be improved, while the formulation of innovative policy requires the training of officials from senior levels down to clerical, custodial, police and administrative staff in new modes of practice.

Advisory services exchange programmes between criminal justice personnel and experts of different countries serve a third purpose: the development of a worldwide perspective. This is of particular importance in regard to implementing United Nations standards, guidelines, international instruments and other policy recommendations. A frequent complaint among States that have endorsed such resolutions is the difficulty of practical implementation. Governments with strained budgets and a multiplicity of pressing political, economic and social needs are hard pressed to upgrade standards of criminal justice practice and install new approaches. Technical and advisory assistance is needed to move ahead on either front.

International Cooperation

The United Nations also operates under budgetary constraints, and demand for advisory and technical services invariably outstrips the capacities of the Organization. One means of breaking this impasse is increased support from Governments and non-governmental organizations, in the form of cash contributions, in-kind donations, expert services, fellowships or other kinds of assistance. A number of technical assistance and advisory projects accordingly are being formulated with a view to obtaining support from donor countries, the Department for Development Support and Management Services of the Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and other internationally oriented agencies.

A source of technical support at the national and regional levels that has not reached its full potential is the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund. To date, the number of Governments contributing to the Fund does not exceed 7 per cent of the membership of the United Nations. Recognizing that the Fund could be an invaluable international resource, the Crime Congresses as well as the General Assembly have repeatedly invited Governments to make financial contributions.

Ongoing international cooperation is frequently a byproduct of United Nations assistance programmes. Many experts sent on assignments by the United Nations are on leave from high government posts, granted by their Governments for that purpose. Upon return, experts frequently spark within their own Governments a special interest in follow-up to their work, through the provision of fellowships for further training or the provision of equipment or training materials. Assistance between countries and the interchange of criminal justice personnel have also been motivated by the activities of the regional and interregional institutes of the United Nations and the spirit of intra-national cooperation that arises from seminars with participants from many nations.

The Work of the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division

Among its functions and capabilities (see Chapter III), the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division is the central repository of international technical expertise in matters of crime prevention and criminal justice, criminal law reform and criminological sciences. Located at the United Nations Office at Vienna, the Division bears a primary responsibility within the United Nations system for facilitating and delivering technical cooperation in the criminal justice field and providing technical and advisory services.

Assistance to Governments may take many forms. Fellowships allow criminal justice professionals the chance to study techniques in another country and bring knowledge of new or different approaches and the practical dimensions of their execution back to their home nations. Conversely, experts dispatched to a requesting country are able to confer with senior officials, institute training programmes, assist in the analysis of local criminal justice policy or otherwise impart techniques and approaches of proven validity.

Many assistance projects have entailed the provision of expertise on a relatively long-term basis, generally up to one or two years. In 1970, the position of Interregional Adviser was established within the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch to provide quicker, more flexible services. Within the first four years, the Interregional Adviser responded to requests - largely for evaluation, research and planning - from 40 countries. Between 1982 and 1994, the number of requests mushroomed to more than 200. The position of a second Interregional Adviser was established in 1994.

Services available to the world community

A broad repertoire of services for Member States and regional bodies is available from the Division. Advisory Missions of two to three weeks' duration are run by the Interregional Advisers, helping to implement United Nations standards and guidelines and to plan national programmes. There are also Project Formulation Missions, dealing with specific crime prevention or crime control policy areas and the organization of suitable training programmes.

The Division, in cooperation with donor countries and agencies, may install resident advisers and trainers and assist with the procurement of equipment such as computers, forensic apparatus and training materials.

Large projects must be financed by donor countries, financial institutions or the United Nations Development Programme. Funds for innovative demonstration projects and for ad hoc advisory services on occasion may be obtained from the United Nations Regular Programme Budget. The Division also cooperates with donor agencies and private institutions and can help formulate multilateral projects of cooperation suited to recipient country needs.

Assistance is provided in the following technical areas:

Criminal law and procedure

· Codification and digests of existing legislation and jurisprudence
· Penal law reform
· Decriminalization and depenalization policies
· Classification of crimes and model codes
· Commercial crime, fraud and tax evasion
· Corruption, embezzlement and misconduct in office
· Organized crime, racketeering and smuggling
· Offences against public safety, cultural patrimony and the environment
· Criminal law procedures and the rights of the accused
· Alternatives to imprisonment
· Extradition and the treatment of foreign prisoners
· Bilateral treaties in criminal matters

Criminal Justice management

· System analysis and organizations and structure of justice agencies
· Computerization and management systems
· Allocation of manpower, training, and human resource development
· Research on interrelationships between socio-economic factors and crime
· Incorporation of crime prevention strategies in national, regional and urban development
· Status, selection and training of criminal justice personnel, including judges and prosecutors
· Improving the efficacy and fairness of judicial processes
· Facilitating access to justice and legal assistance for the poor
· Role of lawyers and public defenders

Criminal justice statistics

· Organization of data collection and record-keeping
· Computerization
· Crime trends and surveys; crime forecasting
· Manpower statistics and budget allocations
· Criminal records and management
· Judicial statistics and assignment of cases
· Prison population statistics
· Recidivism statistics

Law enforcement

· Code of conduct
· Use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials
· Community support, role of the mass media and complaint procedures
· Policies re: victims of crime and domestic violence
· Investigative techniques re: money-laundering and organized crime
· International cooperation to combat transnational offenders
· Seizure of assets derived from illegal activities
· Forensic training and the handling and transfer of evidence
· Arrest procedures and the protection of human rights

Rehabilitation of offenders

· Alternatives to imprisonment: community-based programmes, halfway houses and electronic monitoring

· Probation, supervision programmes and after-care services

· Programmes in correctional institutions: weekend imprisonment, semi-liberty, training programmes and supervised labour

· Prisoners' rights and privileges, furloughs and ombudsmen

· Treatment of women in prisons

· Treatment of drug addicts in prisons

· Treatment of mentally ill offenders

· Treatment of prisoners with AIDS

· Evaluation of correctional programmes and recidivism

· Long-term prisoners and ageing prison populations

Victims of crime

· Policies and procedures designed to protect victims and model laws in this regard

· Restitution and compensation programmes and financing schemes

· Health, social and legal services for victims: child protection, shelters for battered women, rape crisis center Technical Cooperation and Advisory Services

· Victim involvement in judicial proceedings; alternatives to judicial process

· Special police services and procedures for victims and relevant training programmes

· Reporting of victimization and victim studies

· Compensation for victims of abuse of public and economic power

Juvenile justice

· Age of criminal responsibility
· Diversion and non-institutional treatment
· Delinquency prevention strategies
· Mobilization of volunteers and other community services
· Guiding principles in adjudication and disposition
· Institutional treatment - minimum standards
· Multi-sectoral, multi-agency rehabilitation programmes
· Research and planning for policy formulation
· Training of juvenile justice personnel.

Further information may be obtained from:

United Nations Crime Prevention and
Criminal Justice Division
United Nations Office at Vienna
Room E1233
P.O. Box 500
A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: 43-1-21-345-4269
Fax: 43-1-21-345-5898
Cable address: UNATIONS VIENNA
Telex: 135612