Heuni paper No. 11 Anticipating instead of Preventing: Using the Potential of Crime Risk Assessment in Order to Minimize the Risks of Organized and Other Types of Cri­me Seppo Leppä The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control



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6. Three case studies

In this section the applicability of the CRA process is tested on three real-life cases of transnational law reforms that have opened up a major potential for making a profit. The aim here is to make an attempt to explore, first, what kinds of crime risk categories are associated with the reforms, and, second, whether indeed anticipa­tion and early aware­ness: (i) have helped in avoiding or minimiz­ing crime risks in the first case, (ii) might have helped in avoiding or minimizing crime risks in the second case, and (iii) might help in avoiding or minimizing crime risks in the last case.


6.1 Basel convention on the control of transboundary movements of haz­ardous wastes and their disposal

The text of the Basel Con­vention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was negotiated by the states parties at the end of the 1980s and finalized at the beginning of the 1990s. The convention enter­ed into force on 5 May 1992 (cf. United Nations Environment Programme1989).


¤ The objectives of the convention are to protect, by strict con­trol, human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from the generation and management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and to enhance the control of transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes, thus creating incentives for their environmentally sound management and for the reduction of the volume of such transboundary movement. The simple idea is that the less hazardous waste and other waste are produced, and the less they are transported with potentially risky conse­quences, the better the environment for all forms of life upon Earth.
¤ The reform as such was instituted in order to minimize the adverse impacts of a human activity - that of hazardous waste production - by means of regu­lating the transboundary movements of, in the first place, hazardous waste, and, in particular, illegal traffic in hazardous wastes (see United Nations Environment Programme 1993, part I, para. 6). This is supposed to be achieved by not permitting the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes if the state of import does not consent in writing to the specific import, in the case where that state has not prohibited the import of such wastes. The states parties shall designate or establish one or more com­petent authorities and one focal point to facilitate the implementation of the Convention (United Nations Environment Programme 1989, art. 5, para. 1). A state party shall further not permit any ex­port to or import from a non-party state (op. cit., art. 4. para. 5 ). The risk for the produc­tion and presentation of false docu­ments in this context is noted (op. cit., art. 9, para. 1 (c & d)). Other adverse im­pacts, i.e. other poten­tial crime risks, apparently were not con­sidered. Money laundering and pur­poseful infiltration of legal businesses are not perhaps relevant this time in this respect8. Nonetheless, the potential for cor­rup­tion as a separate crime risk cat­egory should perhaps also have been notified in the convention.
¤ In general, baseline data (to say nothing of statistics) on breaches against the stipulations of the Convention are not very systematic, although national focal points of the states which have ratified the Convention are supposed to report all incidents to the Secretariat. However, no comprehensive statistics in this category are available9, only anecdotal documentation on some of the cases reported to the Secretariat of the Con­ven­ti­on. Thus, for example in the document by the Secretariat on ille­gal traf­fic, pre­sen­ted to the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Par­ties to the Basel Convention, convened in October 1997, three incidents were reported in detail. In addition, it is stated that "on a few other occa­sions, the Secretatiat, through various sources including the Governments of Contracting Parties, has been informed of cases of illegal traffic. In all of these cases, the Secretariat immediately contacted all States concerned, asking for clarification and offering assistance" (United Nations Environ­ment Programme 1997, pp. 1-3). The problem of illegal conduct seems to exist, but, apparently, it is not a serious one.
This view is confirmed by a study produced for the research workshop organized at the Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offen­ders, in 1995 (United Nations 1995b). Experts from eleven member states were re­ques­ted to de­scribe, inter alia, recent cases of transboundary pollu­tion involving traf­fic in hazardous waste (UNICRI). Optimally, each national expert ought to have describ­ed three examples: (i) one case where the legal inst­ruments availa­ble in the country were fully utilized or effective implementa­tion took place, (ii) one case where the system failed, and (iii) one case being iden­ti­fied as environmentally harmful and likely to be dealt with by new strate­gies for better environmental protection. As a matter of fact, six national experts were able to report cases, on the who­le, but not a single ex­pert was able to report a case from all of the catego­ries listed10. On the other hand, data on the fre­quency of incidents are not the most impor­tant know­ledge in this field. It is equally vital to know for example that "the disposal of harmful waste in African countries beca­me a common phenomenon in the eighties (...) because of the low level of environmental protection laws, and the abject powerty of these nations, the developed countries have, within the last decade, embarked upon 'toxic waste trade' or 'illegal dumping of toxic wastes' in poor debt-strapped developing count­ries" (op. cit., p. 171).

The question of false documents is mentioned passim in a few of the cases described, but no systematic information is provided on this as­pect. No information whatsoever is provided on corruption as a preliminary step in trafficking in hazardous waste.


¤ The international community, quite apparently, has taken a very se­rious view of the threat caused by trafficking in hazardous waste, as demonstrated by the efforts to develop and implement the Basel Con­vention. Also the traffic in false documents has been considered in earnest as a side issue. On the other hand, in this context perhaps more anticipatory weight should be attached to corruption as a separate potential crime risk category, since it is quite conceivable that trafficking in ha­zar­dous waste has been facilitated by bribing favourably inclined national officials. This must be seen as a real threat in all those regions of the world where cor­ruption has become endemic, and can be considered an inhe­rent element of the cultural structure.

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