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Counterfeiting: an emerging threat managed by organized crime (UNICRI)

UNICRI’s side event at the UNTOC Conference of the Parties

Vienna, 19th October 2010


UNICRI, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute will be organizing an event at the Vienna International Centre on the 19th October 2010 to raise awareness of the growing global risks posed by counterfeiting.

The event will host talks by Prof. Idrissou Abdoulaye, Director General, National University Hospital of Cotonou on the effects of counterfeit medicines in Benin; Ms. Monica Pop, a Chief Prosecutor in Intellectual Property Rights matters in Romania, discussing the tackling of counterfeiting through criminal investigations; Mr. Pierre Delval, Anti-counterfeiting Advisor of the Council of Europe, discussing strategies to counter the phenomenon; and Ms. Marietta Ulrich-Horn, representing the International Authentication Association, discussing the role that anti-counterfeiting technologies may have in the global strategies against counterfeiting.

UNICRI has established itself as a valuable source of practical experience and knowledge in the global fight against counterfeiting. The Institute published the first global report on counterfeiting in 2007, which brought attention to the role of organized crime in the counterfeiting business, and concluding that this growing criminal activity has been underestimated. By collecting figures available from different organizations, the Institute has produced an overview on the magnitude of this phenomenon that is closely associated with economy internationalization, new technologies, opening of new markets, weakening of national borders, and profitability of intellectual property rights. The result is a highly sophisticated transnational criminal activity that creates serious risks for consumers’ health and safety and that co-exists with legitimate forms of trade in the expanding global market.

The last few years has seen a rapid increase in the organization of counterfeit good production, with the spread of globalised networks for producing, transporting and marketing illicit goods. Counterfeiting serves a dual function for organized crime: a source of finance for other illegal activities and a way of laundering proceeds from other crimes. The counterfeiting industry is extremely lucrative, even when compared with other illicit activities such as drug trafficking. The level of risk is lower with less severe penalties and fewer resources devoted to this sector.

The Institute’s latest report underlines the fact that the international community needs strong and coordinated action to support those entities that are fighting counterfeiting. Consumers must also be empowered by raising awareness of the issue and providing them with methods of verifying that products are authentic.

With profits from counterfeiting growing at enormous speed, the international community needs to act fast. UNICRI brings together experts from around the world to develop effective measures which governments and the private sector can adopt to counter the spread of counterfeit goods. UNICRI is also working on projects to protect consumers from the risks posed by counterfeit goods.

 

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