Reform of the criminal justice system will be the main focus of a key United Nations anti-crime body, which opened its annual session today in Vienna.As part of its discussion on how to achieve effectiveness and equity in the criminal justice system, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is expected to hear from panellists who will highlight various approaches that focus on integrated criminal justice, with particular emphasis on prosecutors, courts and prisons, juvenile justice and strengthening international criminal justice co-operation.The Commission’s 11th session will also give special attention to technical assistance and co-operation in support of criminal justice reform, especially within the framework of peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.During its 10-day session, the panel will also examine the report of an expert group, which concludes that restorative justice can serve as a supplement to established criminal justice practices, especially in areas where such practices had not functioned adequately.As for effective community-based crime prevention, the 40-member Commission will look at another expert group’s draft recommendations for international action, including building inter-agency coordination, raising public awareness and considering ways to “design out” crime.Measures to prevent corruption and terrorism, a UN treaty against organized crime, as well as a separate accord on trafficking in protected animal and plant species, are also on the Commission’s agenda. read more

Briefing journalists in New York, Stéphane Dujarric, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said that, as part of the ongoing Geneva Consultations, Mr. de Mistura met with a number of regional and national stakeholders, including Louay Hussain, Chairman of the Building the Syrian State political party; Hassan Abdel Azim, Chairman of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC); and with a Turkish delegation headed by Can Dizdar, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Mr. Dujarric, Mr. Dizdar also shared his Government’s perspectives on the implementation of the Geneva Communique and the situation in Syria.In addition, Mr. de Mistura met with a French delegation headed by Nicolas de Rivière, Director General of Political Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with whom he discussed the French Government’s views on the need for an urgent political solution in Syria. The two officials also touched upon recent developments in and around Syria, which may affect prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, the UN spokesperson noted. At the conclusion of today’s consultations, Mr. de Mistura reportedly said that it remains critical to reach out to Syrian political actors as no one more than the Syrians themselves recognize the urgency of bringing the conflict to end.The Geneva Communiqué was adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on 30 June 2012, and since endorsed by the UN Security Council.The document lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among others, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition. read more