VIENNA (Reuters) - More than 100 countries lost an opportunity to improve the fight against cross-border organized crime by failing to agree a new monitoring measure at a major international meeting last week, a United Nations agency said on Monday.
Disagreement over how the effort would be funded prevented a deal on introducing a "peer review mechanism" designed to increase the effectiveness of the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), which has so far been ratified by 172 nations.
"This is a period of austerity. As a result, states appear wary of taking on new obligations," David Dadge, spokesman for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said in a statement about the outcome of the October 15-19 meeting in Vienna.
The convention forms the legal basis for international cooperation against global crime, which UNODC estimates at $870 billion annually.
The inability to agree "can be characterized as a lost opportunity to further enhance the effective implementation of the Convention, as well as improve the way we fight transnational organized crime", Dadge said, giving no details.
If it had been adopted, countries would have been reviewed to see how they were meeting their obligations under the convention and to identify gaps in national legislation.
UNODC Director General Yury Fedotov last week stressed the importance of the measure, telling delegates: "We cannot succeed against transnational crime unless every nation is bound in cooperation through the convention and the review process."
Dadge said the meeting had still made "considerable progress" in many areas, for example regarding trafficking of firearms and smuggling of migrants.
(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Michael Roddy)