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History of UNICRI

The New Millenium: UNICRI in Turin

On 1 May 2000, UNICRI moved to its new Headquarters in Turin, Northern Italy, within the United Nations Campus also hosting the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC/ILO) and the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC).

The hectic beginning of the millennium poses new challenges to the international community. UNICRI endeavors to answer the trial and provide innovative solutions to major problems and new threats.

Most of UNICRI's projects include analytical and operational components and are usually carried out in collaboration with other international organizations, governmental institutions and specialized non-governmental organizations.

Quotes from Prominent UN Officials

Thank you very much for the good job you are doing. Providing training for the UN system, but also training for multilateralism and training for the world! All the very best to the faculty, staff and friends of the UN! Ms. Asha Rose Migiro, Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa; Former UN Deputy Secretary General - during her visit to the UN Campus in Turin.

This is a knowledge house. You are providing the groundwork and you are cultivating yourself, your career, to be able to contribute more wherever you may be assigned. In this regard I think that you are providing the basic element, core principles which I am now promoting.UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon - during his visit to the UN Campus in Turin.

1989-1999: UNICRI in Rome

On 24 May 1989, through its Resolution No. 1989/56, ECOSOC renamed the Institute the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and adopted its present Statute, which reaffirms and enlarges the previous mandate.

In the 1990's, in line with the priorities set by the UN Crime Congresses and the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, as well as in response to the needs expressed by the international and national communities, UNICRI expanded its areas of activities to include emerging issues, such as environmental crimes, corruption, treatment of mentally-ill offenders.

In those years, UNICRI started the International Crime Victim Survey, which involved approximately 70 countries worldwide and was recognized as one of the most prominent sources of quantitative information on crime.

At the same time, the Institute continued its work in areas of constant concern for the international community, such as juvenile justice, justice reform, drug abuse and illegal trafficking. UNICRI organized meetings, which congregated the most renowned world experts and lead to the development of major international projects, as in the case of the 1991 conference on cocaine abuse and trafficking, which generated four specialized studies in 16 countries.

UNICRI also reinforced its training capabilities. The Institute developed and tested a number of sub-regional and national curricula and modules targeted at trainers. Pilot training courses for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, other justice personnel and social workers covered basic instruction in human rights as well as specialized issues, such as corruption investigation, drug abuse control, domestic violence prevention and control, probation, and computerization of justice administration. Training activities were carried out in Central and Eastern Europe, Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Latin America.

In the second half of the 1990's, new concerns and increased awareness on the problems linked to transnational organized crime (such as trafficking in persons) emerged - a trend reflected by the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocols in 2000. UNICRI promptly responded to the new challenges, focusing its analytical capacities on these issues; it initiated a series of international and national studies, in some cases within the framework of the relevant Global Programmes launched by UNODC in Vienna.

At the same time, UNICRI developed technical cooperation programmes on justice reform targeting African countries in post-conflict situations.

1969-1989: UNSDRI Years

The activities undertaken by the United Nations Social Defense Research Institute (UNSDRI), as UNICRI was previously called, in its first twenty years may be broadly divided into four categories.

International and transnational research was carried out on general themes which were at the forefront of the debate among experts and professionals entrusted with the establishment of a global approach to criminal policy. Results were disseminated through international meetings and publications and served as bases for advisory services to Governments. The themes included trends and needs of interdisciplinary criminological research; trends in crime; criminal justice studies; criminal justice information; juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice.

Other international studies focused on specific issues, covering both social problems (such as migration and crime or economic crises and crime) and aspects of criminal justice, particularly correctional administration (such as prison architecture, prison riots, capital punishment, and alternatives to imprisonment).

Beginning in 1973, UNSDRI focused on drug policy in the field of illicit drug abuse and traffic. In the second half of the 1980's, experience gained by the previous studies allowed UNSDRI to prepare two important contributions to the 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking that lead to the 1988 Convention: a 31-country survey of drug-related criminal legislation and a 15-country study on prevention of drug abuse and rehabilitation of dependents.

Since its establishment, UNSDRI carried out country-centered projects on criminal justice systems in Uganda, Tunisia, Soviet Union, The Netherlands and Finland.

Other national projects tackled individual issues, including crime prevention in Saudi Arabia, protection of cultural heritage and delay in administration of justice in India, protection of cultural heritage and kidnappings in Italy, relations between crime and economic development in Yugoslavia, and social change and crime in Tunisia. Additionally, major technical cooperation programmes were implemented, including social rehabilitation of young adults detained in prison farms in Egypt and institutional and social support to street children in Argentina and Uruguay.

Since 1969, on the bases of studies on "manpower training in social defence", UNSDRI developed specific modules which were tested in pilot training activities for criminal justice officials from developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

From the outset, UNSDRI was mindful of the importance of promoting the dissemination of information. The library, which originated from the holdings of the International Penal and Penitentiary Association inherited by the United Nations in the late 1940's, was constantly enriched and became one of the major international specialized collections. The computerization of its catalogue began in 1987.

Starting in 1974, UNSDRI regularly published every 4 years the World Directory of Criminological Institutes. Between 1974 and 1977 UNSDRI, in collaboration with the United States National Clearinghouse for Criminal Justice information, developed an International Clearinghouse on Crime, Deviance and Social Control, through which UNSDRI developed the blueprint for a selective multilingual international clearinghouse service.

1965-1969: The Establishment

On 30 July 1965, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) expounded Resolution 1086 B (XXXIX) of the organizational arrangements, which outlined the creation of a United Nations Social Defence Programme.

On 8 August 1967, UN Secretary-General U Thant issued the Bulletin ST/SGB/134 which established the United Nations Social Defence Research Institute, with the mandate to develop "new knowledge and the application thereof in advancing policy and practice in the prevention and control of both juvenile delinquency and adult criminality" through research and technical support.

On 15 January 1968, the United Nations and the Italian Government signed an agreement for the establishment of UNSDRI's Headquarters in Rome.

On 29 April 1969, UN Secretary-General U Thant formally inaugurated the Institute.