UNGA 77 – Third Committee
Agenda Item 109: Crime prevention and criminal justice
Agenda Item 111: International drug control
October 3, 2022
The Holy See takes note of the adoption of the Kyoto Declaration during the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and its four pillars, namely advancing crime prevention, advancing the criminal justice system, promoting the rule of law, and promoting international cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and address all forms of crime.
Furthering crime prevention and improving criminal justice systems should be based on respect for the rule of law and “closely interrelated with the respect for, and protection of, universal human rights.” To this end, the dignity of the human person should necessarily be placed at the core of any policy and intervention that aims at preventing or prosecuting crimes.
This Delegation would like to focus on two areas that require concrete action.
First, crimes that affect the environment, although not always given due attention by law enforcement authorities, may cause enormous harm and exacerbate existing crises. Unlawful deforestation, illegal mining, trafficking in wildlife and waste trafficking, and other environmental crimes, have a negative impact on the three dimensions of sustainable development. Moreover, since environmental crimes frequently affect our common resources, they are often perceived as victimless. Each one of us bears responsibility for the environment and we must work together at all levels to care for our common home. In this regard, Pope Francis appealed for “a natural circularity between profit and social responsibility [and an] indissoluble connection […] between an ethics respectful of persons and the common good, and the actual functionality of every economic financial system.”
Second, illicit drug-related activities, including the production, manufacturing, trafficking, and consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, are expected to continue to increase in the coming years. This poses a serious threat to the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, which all bear the brunt of criminal activity and suffer the harms of addiction. It is essential therefore to continue efforts to prevent and combat drug use.
While mindful of the serious concerns related to incarceration of users and petty traffickers, which often are themselves the victims of drug trafficking networks, the Holy See is convinced that those issues can, should, and are already being addressed without legalizing drugs. Drug use is always destructive and cannot be eradicated without serious efforts made to condemn and prevent not only their use and sale, but also the so-called drug culture and its associated behaviors. The focus of society and law enforcement should be on identifying trafficking networks and prosecuting major criminals, while also preventing drug use, with the aim of reducing drug production and consumption, no matter the stigma that might be associated with these efforts.
Moreover, effective anti-drug policies should always include compassionate support for those struggling with addiction such as providing treatment services, psychosocial support and educational and employment opportunities.
Preventive efforts should start with an adequate and quality education, both within the family and at school, and should “form the ability to judge rightly [and…] to foster a sense of values” that can help develop a correct conception of the human person and its inherent dignity. Moreover, educational efforts can benefit with up-to-date scientific information on how drugs affect the brain, body, and behavior, having a detrimental impact on the person, as well as on those close to him or her.
The Kyoto Declaration and its four pillars represent a political commitment that must be translated into actions to achieve true justice. As Pope Francis affirms, “It is necessary to do justice, but true justice is not satisfied by simply punishing criminals. It is essential to go further and do everything possible to reform, improve and educate persons so that they mature from every point of view, do not become discouraged,” take full responsibility for their actions and aim at true justice that “leads the criminal to rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.”
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
 H.E. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Statement at the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Kyoto, 7-12 March 2021.
 Pope Francis, Address at the Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation, Rome, 26 May 2018.
 Pope Paul VI, Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis, 5.
 Pope Francis, Letter to Participants in the 19th International Congress of the International Association of Penal Law and of the 3rd Congress of the Latin-American Association of Penal Law and Criminology, Rio de Janeiro, 30 May 2014.