Part 4 of the Cross-Cutting Issues' sector of the Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit, produced by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime in close co-operaiton with the Strategic Police Matters Unit of the OSCE Secretariat.
Globalization and, more specifically, the emergence and expansion of transnational crime confront all justice systems with some new difficulties. Criminal offenders are mobile and often seek to evade detection, arrest, and punishment by operating across international borders. They avoid being caught by taking advantage of those borders and playing on the frequent reluctance of law enforcement authorities to engage in complicated and expensive transnational investigations and prosecutions. The weak capacity of any one country to address effectively some of these new threats translates itself into an overall weakness in the international regime of criminal justice cooperation. For countries with a relatively weak criminal justice capacity, these challenges can sometimes appear insurmountable.
The international community now recognizes international cooperation in criminal matters as an urgent necessity. This demands national efforts to comply with new international standards, to encourage convergence and compatibility of national legislation, to introduce complex procedural reforms, and generally to develop a much greater investigation and prosecution capacity at the national level as well as strengthen the capacity to cooperate at the international level. For some countries, building a capacity for international cooperation within their own criminal justice system is, to say the least, a struggle.
The main mechanisms supporting international cooperation are mutual legal assistance, extradition, transfer of prisoners, transfer of proceedings in criminal matters, international cooperation for the purposes of confiscation of criminal proceeds and asset recovery as provided for in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, as well as a number of less formal measures, including measures in the area of international law enforcement cooperation. These mechanisms are based on bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements or, in some instances, on national law. All of them are evolving rapidly to keep pace with new technologies and their evolution over the last decade or so reflects the new determination of Member States to work more closely with each other to face the growing threats of organized crime, corruption and terrorism.