United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime

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United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime
  Signed and ratified or acceded
  Only signed
TypeOrganized crime; international criminal law
Drafted15 November 2000
Signed12 December 2000
LocationPalermo, Italy
Effective29 September 2003
Condition40 ratifications
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish

The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC, also called the Palermo Convention) is a 2000 United Nations-sponsored multilateral treaty against transnational organized crime.


The convention was adopted by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on 15 November 2000.

The Convention came into force on 29 September 2003. According to Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo, the convention was the first international convention to fight transnational organized crime, trafficking of human beings, and terrorism.[1]

In 2014, the UNTOC strengthened its policies regarding wildlife smuggling.[2] Botswana signed the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2014 to comply with UNTOC on the human smuggling protocol.[3]

In 2017, as Japan prepared the organization of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, it faced the issue of not being fully compliant with the UNTOC, thus jeopardizing its eligibility to organize those events.[4]

In February 2018, Afghanistan introduced a new penal code which made the country's laws UNTOC-compliant for the first time.[5]


UNTOC's three supplementary protocols (the Palermo Protocols) are:[6]

All four of these instruments contain elements of the current international law on human trafficking, arms trafficking and money laundering. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) acts as custodian of the UNTOC and its protocols.[7]

The UNTOC is the main legal international instrument to fight organized crime, but its efficiency depends on each member's ability to implement the organization's framework.[8] As an example, the UNTOC requires a minimum sentence of four years imprisonment for transnational organised criminal offences.[9]


As of 27 February 2023, it has 191 parties,[10] which includes 186 United Nations member states, the Cook Islands, the Holy See, Niue, the State of Palestine, and the European Union. The seven UN member states that are not party to the convention are (* indicates that the state has signed but not ratified the convention):

In June 2018, the Iranian Parliament approved the bill to join UNTOC, but 10 days later Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, called the bill "unacceptable" and blocked its progress.[11][12] In January 2019, the bill was still being debated between the Parliament and the Guardian Council.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loredana Pianta, Researchers simulate mafia and terrorism recruitment, Phys.org, 25 July 2019 (accessed on 30 July 2019)
  2. ^ >Wildlife trafficking to become a ‘serious crime’ under UNTOC[permanent dead link], Worldecr.com, 20 February 2014 (accessed on 18 August 2019)
  3. ^ Tshepo Mongwa, Botswana Makes Progress, Allafrica.com, 12 September 2018 (accessed on 18 August 2019)
  4. ^ Japan and an Anti-Crime Bill, Nytimes.com, 1 June 2017 (accessed on 18 August 2019)
  5. ^ Afghanistan: UN mission welcomes new penal code, urges measures to protect women from violence, Un.org, 22 February 2018 (accessed on 18 August 2019)
  7. ^ "United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) | veritaszim". www.veritaszim.net. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  8. ^ Laura Adal, Organised crime in Africa / Weak laws make tackling organised crime harder, Enactafrica.org, 8 November 2018 (accessed on 18 August 2019)
  9. ^ Carina Bruwer, Lions, tigers and bears: Wildlife trafficking in the age of globalisation, Dailymaverick.co.za, 20 February 2019 (accessed on 18 August 2019)
  10. ^ UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime: Treaty status
  11. ^ Palermo Bills Suspended, Radiofarda.com, 25 Juily 2018 (accessed on 30 July 2019)
  12. ^ Iran's Watchdog Rejects Bills To Join U.N. Crime Conventions, Radiofarda.com, 15 July 2018 (accessed on 30 July 2019)
  13. ^ Iran Postpones Approval Of UN Convention Against Transnational Crime, Radiofarda.com, 19 January 2019 (accessed on 30 July 2019)

External links[edit]