Author's Note: The author coordinated the ancillary meetings' for the 12th U.N. Crime Congress, prepared the report of these meetings and has coordinated them for the past six U.N. crime congresses.
Every five years, for the past 60 years, the U.N. Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice program has held a major conference to help determine the direction and activities it should undertake. This past April, the 12th U.N. Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice was held for seven days in Salvador, Brazil. Looking at a summary of both the formal (2) and informal sessions (3) and using the report of the ancillary meetings as a base, the obvious conclusion is that the U.N. work for the foreseeable future will include a heavy emphasis on corrections.
The UN Crime Congress
Approximately 4,000 individuals participated in the conference, 252 of whom registered as representing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In addition, 199 individuals registered as individual experts; many of them also represented a variety of NGOs. Forty-seven NGOs (including the American Correctional Association) were officially represented at the congress. A total of 103 nations participated, as well as 10 U.N. bodies and entities, 14 U.N. programme network institutes (4) and 18 intergovernmental organizations (in addition to one specialized agency, the World Bank).
Of the 82 ancillary meetings, 18 were sponsored by U.N. agencies, 10 were sponsored by programme network institutes and eight were sponsored by Brazilian government and NGO agencies. In addition, the government of Brazil held its own conference with 31 workshops for Brazilian criminal justice personnel.
Discussion concerning corrections was a part of 48 percent of all the ancillary meetings. In addition, two of five U.N. workshops conducted by the Programme Network Institute for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime were directly related to corrections. The U.N. Crime Congress also discussed a proposed "United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders," and the final report of the Congress, The Salvador Declaration, included a recommendation that the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (5) consider the proposed rules "as a matter of priority."
The Salvador Declaration also:
* Supports the principle that deprivation of liberty of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
* Recognizes that the penitentiary system is one of the key components of the criminal justice...