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United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNODC

With the growing threat of transnational networks of crimes, narcotics, and terrorism of the late 1990s, the Program for Reform of the United Nations decided to merge the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division to strengthen the UN’s capacity to respond to these concerning world problems [1].

Born from this merger in 1997, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was created to address and contribute in the world’s fight against illicit drugs, transnational organized crime, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, money-laundering, piracy, terrorism and corruption in all its forms by providing the Member States with technical assistance, research and normative support.

The UNODC works for and with Member States, aiming to protect people of all nations from criminal exploitation and to promote justice through human rights-based and victim-centered approaches to increase access to justice and further the rule of law.  The office is mandated to assist Member States in reforming their criminal justice system and to better address a coordinated and comprehensive international response to all of those issues, hoping to maximize government and public knowledge on those subjects.

While also serving as the guardian for most of its related treaties and conventions, the UNODC poses as a key player in establishing and mediating multilateral international cooperations, presented as one of the unique strengths of this UN Office: the capacity of bringing nations together to transfer knowledge, skills, and information to make the world a safer place from drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism [2]. 

In them lies a major importance amidst the ever growing crime rates around the globe. In a scenery of economic crisis and rapid technology development, in which multiple means and methods for criminals to perform a broad range of illegal activities are created/generated, in particular through the vast, and seemingly lawless, immensity that is the internet in the 21st century, this importance has never been so evident. As cyber crime continues to evolve, so does the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes work alongside its Member States.

SINGLE TOPIC: ‘'Tackling the Criminal Usage of Cyber-space: Illicit online trading and malicious R&D of new technologies.’’

After centuries of trading being brought up as an efficient quotient to a culture based and organized by exchange and gift economy, a new global environment arose with steady growth. However, well-known crimes have taken a new approach to an expanding range of methods to attain goods, secure convenience and assert criminal activity in vulnerable territory [3].

Because the borderless realm of the internet seemed unwary and endless, buyers didn’t shy away from illegal transactions. Most desired products included hard drugs, weapons, personal data, prohibited audiovisual material containing torture and other nonconsensual acts, and services such as hitmans, or black hat hackers and unethical developers. 

All of these illicit goods and services are possible through undergoing on-line operations which are now tailored to accommodate and combine resources even for high profile violations, such as spyware monitoring, data collection and copyright infringements. All of it is done in specific ways to thrive under layers of agent-anonymity protocols and blend amidst hectic cyber security routines [4].

These actions make a quantitative understanding of the phenomena harder to be obtained by bringing abstract concepts such as Information Warfare [5] and Malicious Softwares [6]. Although civilians are still many of the final targets, public organizations and private companies were also included in harmful cyber attacks, which makes joint defensive actions between private and public bodies an essential step in order to expand their individual spheres of protection.

Said companies can also play dubious roles while developing new tech products for its consumers. Even though their development techniques may be adequate regarding cyber security, some technologies can be distorted to support illicit work, similarly to the usage of Generative Artificial Intelligence to support scam operations in messaging apps [7].  These same technologies have become a necessity in people’s lives, therefore enhancing danger of the exploitation of their privacy. 

Considering the irrevocable consequences to population security and normality, while aiming for a different future where intervention has given place to prevention, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime intends to work on encouraging cybersecurity practices, the evasion of insistent misuse of legal performance and, most importantly, on having mutual international assistance as a primary functioning strategy between UN members.

Academic Directors:

Maria Eduarda de Melo Silva Nogueira

Raissa Villar Rodrigues


Assistant Directors:

Arthur Gabriel Pereira Espínola

Augusto Etrusco Itabaiana

Cecília Nunes de Carvalho

Evelyn Emily Vasconcelos Lopes

Luiza Carla de Medeiros Bezerra

Rafael Pinheiro Camelo



Yuri Luis Pinheiro Morais Goes

Related Literature:

  1. SHELLEY, Louise I. Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018. Synopsis available at: Accessed on: Jan 10th, 2024. 


Related Media:

  1. The Fifth State (2013), 2h19min, Directed by: Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer.  Synopsis retrieved from: Available on HBO Max. Accessed on: Jan, 2023.

  2. The Great Hack (2019), 2h19min, Directed by: Jehane Noujaim, Karim Amer. Synopsis retrieved from: Available on Netflix. Accessed on: Jan, 2023.

  3. KAPOOR, Varun. Cyber Security | Dr. Varun Kapoor, IPS | TEDxPCTEBaddowal.  Produced by: TEDx Talks. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 9th, 2024.

  4. The Dark Side of the Silk Road (2019), 1h14min, Produced by: Barely Sociable. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 8th, 2024. 



[1] UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Renewing the United Nations: A Program for Reform. Document A/51/950, p. 48. New York, July 16, 1997. Available at: Accessed on: Jan 8th, 2024.

[2] UNODC. About the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 8th, 2024.

[3] BALOO, Jaya. Cybersecurity every day | Jaya Baloo | TEDxRotterdam. Produced by: TEDx Talks. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 9th, 2024.

[4] POIREAULT, Kevin. Malware Takedowns Show Progress, But Fight Against Cybercrime Not Over. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 10th, 2024.

[5] BINGLE, Morgan. What is Information Warfare?. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 5th, 2024.

[6] HITACHI. Malware. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 7th, 2024.

[7] FLARE. Illicit Telegram Groups: A New Dark Web Frontier. Retrieved from: Accessed on: Jan 7th, 2024.

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