Lecture series PDF Print E-mail
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Stories of wolves, lambs and shepherd


Hearts, minds and conciences confronted by justice and compassion


Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan


Today I have decided to speak openly about my work over the past many decades in a variety of international institutions.  Why?  Because I see limits to what overstretched – even banckrupt public sectors can do, nowadays in their pursue of development, justice and security.  And therefore, through this academic institution, I plea for additional mobilization by voluntary associations, religious institutions, the private sector, the media, academicians and, generally, those able to influence young people like those in the audience.

Why make this plea at a Catholic University? Because in the background is Christ’s message to the expert in law, who asked Him how to inherit eternal life.  You recall the Saviour’s words:  learn from the Samaritan and do likewise. What a wonderful mission statement.


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 May 2014 16:58
LANCET Report on Drugs and Crime PDF Print E-mail
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LANCET World Report


Drug crime and criminalisation threaten progress on MDGs


Interview with Antonio Maria Costa


·       International drug crime and the policies intended to tackle it are both threats to progress on health, human rights, and the Millennium Development Goals


Kelly Morris reports.


In preparation for the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, declared on this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking that “we must recognise the major impediment to development posed by drug abuse and illicit trafficking”, and urged that: “our

work to achieve the MDGs and fight drugs must go hand-in-hand”.  

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 May 2014 16:59
Modern Slavery: how can we fight it? PDF Print E-mail
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A crime that shames us all:  modern slavery



One of the worse crime today is human trafficking or, to call what it is, modern slavery.  The issue has moved up the political agenda.  It has caught the attention of the public, and those (media, celebrities) that shape it. This is most important:  success will not depend on bureaucrats, but on society’s willingness to fight modern slavery -- as it’s happening in equally titanic struggles to contain pandemics, manage the environment and cope with under-development.  What is needed now?



Bonding legal and operational initiatives against slavery

Rules of engagement (legal instruments) without a game (operations) are futile; a game without rules is chaos. With the help of a few questions, I’ll show that concrete operational measures will help countries meet the legal obligations agreed in internationl fora.  I’ll focus on (i) prevention, (ii) prosecution and (iii) protection.

Let me start with prevention.  Governments must establish an anti-slavery national strategy.  Ask whatever authority you deal with, these simple questions::

1.              In your campaigns with civil society, information and media, to warn potential victims of the dangers they face, have you linked up with global efforts to raise awareness and discouraged demand?

2.              Poverty, ignorance and lack of opportunity are not legal, but contextual conditions:  did you mobilize funds to alleviate the vulnerability of people?

3.              Law enforcement agencies run networks to exchange information on trafficking routes, traffickers’ and victims’ profiles:  did you plug into them?

4.              Did development institutions channel assistance to vulnerable regions/groups, and did intelligence agencies cooperate to stop transactions?


Regarding prosecution, governments must have enacted anti-trafficking laws.  Again, ask your authorities the following:

1.              While penalties must be congruent to the severity of the crime, was your judicial system up to the task, or did it need technical assistance?

2.              While distinguishing victims from criminals, did you mobilize international institutions specialized in the protection of women and children?

3.              Would have, coherence among specialized agencies, helped your country or countries source/destination of your victims, rendered your work easier?


Victim protection requires programs for their physical and social recovery.  Do ask your government the following:

1.       Your social workers cannot master the languages of victims coming from the four corners of the world:  did you use the specialized technology now in place to alleviate the suffering? Were these high-tech tools helpful?

2.              Rescued victims require visas, housing and resources to start a new life, as well as compensation.  Did you use specialized philanthropic services?


Governments’ role in fighting slavery it is crucial:  equally important iis the role of individual stakeholders – media and the private sector -- whose involvement and coordination is urgently needed. Thank you for your support and for your attention.



Last Updated on Sunday, 04 May 2014 17:00
Youth and Drugs PDF Print E-mail
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Youth and Drugs:

the temptation and the disillusion


published on line jointly by the Max Planck Institute and UNICRI


I am glad to be given the opportunity to talk with young people about drugs, especially about the temptation to take addictive substances for fun or need, and the dis-illusion victims inevitably face – unable to overcome personal problems with a few grams of dope. 

I invite young people to exchange of views in a urbane and fruitful manner, in recognition of everybody’s good intentions.  This will help understand better a century-old scourge:  drug addiction and the crime associated to it, and what to do about both.

Many young people, radical as they are (should be?) before professional and family needs settle in, tend to militate in two opposing camps:  there are those who pursue a world free of drugs, and those who propose a world of free drugs.  The vast majority of youth however, tend to place themselves in between these two fringes, basing their views on common sense:

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 May 2014 17:47
Free drugs or drug free? PDF Print E-mail
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Free Drugs or Drug Free?

The Indipendent/The Guardian on 2 September 2010

The sterile debate between those who dream a world free of drugs and those who hope for a world of free drugs, has been raging for years.  I believe the dispute between prohibition vs. legalization would be more fruitful if focussed on the appropriate degree of regulation for addictive substances (drugs, but also alcohol and tobacco), and how to attain it.

Current international agreements are hard to change.  All nations, with no exception, agree that illicit drugs are a threat to health and their production, trade and use should be regulated.  In fact adherence to the United Nations drug conventions is virtually universal and no statutory changes are possible unless the majority of states agree -- quite unlikely, in the foreseeable future.  Yet, important improvements are needed and achievable, especially in areas where current controls have produced serious collateral damage. 

Why such a resistance to abolish the controls?  In part, because the conventions’ success is undeniable, in restraining both supply and demand of drugs.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 08:46