UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has urged the international community to work together to prevent criminals from making and distributing false Covid-19 vaccines and other fake medical products.
“In the context of Covid-19, there is a need for effective action against falsified and fake medical products — such as Covid-19 vaccines — and to strengthen international cooperation in this regard,” said Munir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations.
In his statement at a high-level segment of the 14th Crime Congress in New York on Saturday evening, the Pakistani envoy warned that the Covid-19 pandemic had exposed various vulnerabilities which could be exploited by the criminals.
“Like all other aspects of our daily lives, the impact of Covid-19 on transnational organised crime has been significant,” he said. “There is a compelling case for enhanced international action to combat and dismantle networks and platforms that perpetrate these crimes and undermine progress towards Agenda 2030.”
Agenda 2030 represents 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2017 as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.
“There can be no sustainable development without justice, the rule of law and prevention and control of crime,” Ambassador Akram warned.
He said that the agenda of the 14th Crime Congress — “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of Agenda 2030” — was both timely and appropriate and central to the achievement of all SDGs.
Identifying the key issues that the Congress needed to focus on, the Pakistani envoy said their first priority should be to stop “the bleeding of the resources of developing countries through illicit financial flows”.
“It is nothing short of criminal to allow such flows to continue during this crisis when developing countries are already struggling to overcome the challenges posed by shrinking fiscal space to fight the pandemic and achieve the SDGs,” he added.
Ambassador Akram urged the Congress to consider the important recommendations contained in the latest report of International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) Panel for follow-up action.
The panel’s estimates show that $7 trillion is held in secrecy jurisdictions and haven countries, which is almost 10 per cent of the global GDP. Illicit financial flows cost $500-$650 billion a year to developing countries. Criminal syndicates launder about $1.6 trillion every year. And about $1.5-$2tr every year passes hands as bribes.
To overcome this massive corruption, the panel proposed structural reforms in the global financial system.
Ambassador Akram also underlined the need to combat environmental crimes and ever-growing illegal trade in wildlife, “which could lead to other zoonotic diseases (like Covid-19)”, if not controlled.
The Pakistani envoy demanded changes in labour and migration laws to discourage human trafficking. “Opening up additional avenues for legal migration is one way to reduce the demand for smuggling services and to meet migration-related SDGs,” he added.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2021