Consultation on the Implementation and Impact in Canada of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols

Consultation on the Implementation and Impact in Canada of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols on Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, and Firearms Trafficking1

On behalf of the Government of Canada, the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform conducted a national consultation on how Canada has implemented the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols thereto. The inputs have been summarized in a report for the Government of Canada to support its submission to a global review of countries’ responses to suppress transnational organized crime.

More than twenty years after the UNTOC came into force, the review enables the assessment of trends and challenges, contribute to useful discussions and should lead to greater international and domestic implementation of the Convention and its Protocols. The Government of Canada wishes to thank all civil society organizations who used their time, expertise and knowledge to provide feedback on Canada’s implementation of UNTOC and its Protocols obligations.

If you are interested in reading the report, please click here. 

1 Canada is not a State Party to the “Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms”. While civil society’s views on the questions pertaining to this protocol were most welcome, they did not form part of Canada’s final self-assessment response.

The UNTOC is the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime (TOC). It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000, and entered into force in 2003. Canada ratified the Convention in 2002. To date, 190 parties have ratified the Convention. The purpose of the Convention is to promote international cooperation to prevent and counter TOC more effectively by establishing a shared framework for tackling TOC via agreed definitions and obligations on parties. The Convention is further supplemented by three Protocols: (1) the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; (2) the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea; and, (3) the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. Canada has ratified the first two Protocols

In October 2018, after a decade of negotiations, the Conference of the Parties to UNTOC, the main policymaking body of UNTOC, adopted resolution 9/1 which established the Mechanism for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention and its Protocols (Review Mechanism). Participation in the Review Mechanism process, which was initiated in October 2020, is mandatory for all States parties to the UNTOC, including Canada.

The UNTOC Review Mechanism aims to:

  • assess a party’s performance on meeting their obligations under UNTOC and its Protocols (and thus potentially improve their implementation as necessary);
  • gather information on national legislation, successes, good practices and challenges of parties in implementing and using UNTOC and its Protocols, and to promote and facilitate the exchange of this information; and,
  • help parties identify and substantiate specific needs for technical assistance and to promote and facilitate the provision of technical assistance upon their request.

The Review Mechanism is a peer (and self) review process spanning ten years, divided into two-year intervals. Lots were drawn to determine the timing of each party’s review and their assigned reviewers. Canada’s review began in November 2021 and it will be reviewed by Djibouti and New Zealand.

All articles of the UNTOC and its Protocols have been arranged into four clusters, each dedicated to a specific theme: 1) criminalization and jurisdiction; 2) prevention, technical assistance and protection measures; 3) law enforcement and the judicial system; and, 4) international cooperation, mutual legal assistance and confiscation. To complete the review cycle, Canada needs to fill out one self-assessment questionnaire/cluster every two years. The Review Mechanism outputs are: 1) a self-assessment questionnaire; 2) a list of observations; 3) summaries; and, 4) report on trends and patterns.

The Government of Canada’s primary responsibility is to complete the self-assessment questionnaire for Cluster 1 prior to May 2022. The self-assessment questionnaire requires Canada to answer a series of questions about the implementation of its specific obligations relating to criminalization and jurisdiction. The Government of Canada intends to consult widely on the preparation of its Cluster 1 responses to the questionnaire, including with civil society organizations. Relevant feedback received through consultations will be added to the Government of Canada’s response to the self-assessment questionnaire.

The guidance issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on conducting country reviews requests that all parties refrain from attaching any annexes or additional information not directly relevant to responding to the questions. As such, the best means of ensuring that civil society organizations feedback is properly captured is to focus on responding to the specific questions themselves.