Sophie Wilmès highlights Belgian leadership in the fight against falsified medical products

The 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice was held in Kyoto (Japan) from March 7 to 11, partly virtually. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès participated in an event organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the issue of falsified medical products. This is an issue of particular importance for Belgium: "Access to safe and effective quality medicines is a priority for Belgium, and we have demonstrated this in various forums", said Sophie Wilmès. Belgium is a leader in the fight against falsified medical products: our country has been one of the initiators of various international treaties and instruments on this issue. The recent resolution against this type of crime, approved in October 2020 in the framework of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, is an initiative of our country. This is an important breakthrough that must be followed up, especially in the period of COVID-19: an important market has already developed for falsified vaccines. Only through international cooperation can we adress this issue.

During this Congress, all UN Member States, including Belgium, signed the Kyoto Declaration, which contains more than 70 actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by fighting crime and promoting criminal justice and the rule of law. This declaration will serve as a roadmap for the years to come. Indeed, there can be no sustainable development without justice. Accountable and transparent institutions are crucial to protect human and socio-economic rights. The declaration can be found at https://undocs.org/en/A/CONF.234/L.6

Belgium also focused on other themes during the congress, such as the importance of international cooperation and multilateralism in the fight against transnational crime, for example within the UNODC. Belgium organized an event on human trafficking during this conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking. Belgium is the main partner of this fund with a contribution of 2 million euros. Another issue on the agenda was the increase in domestic and gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, a matter of concern for Belgium.

Another priority for Belgium is to strengthen the measures against environmental crime, including with a contribution of 2 million euros to fight corruption as a factor in crime against wildlife and forests in Africa. Belgium participated in an event on corruption related to wildlife, forestry and fisheries crime, which was also attended by the director of the Virunga National Park in the DRC, Emmanuel de Mérode. Finally, Belgium illustrated the importance it attaches to fair sport, by participating in the event "Safeguarding sport from corruption and crime". Young people actively participated in this congress, which was preceded by a youth forum.