The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) addressed United Nations (UN) delegates on how the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods helps to finance organized crime and terrorism. The meeting was held under the auspices of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and brought together representatives from UN member states, UN agencies and the private sector.

In his opening remarks H.E. Ambassador Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the UNCCT Advisory Board, underscored the importance of addressing the threat of terrorist financing through counterfeiting and organized crime.

“We must raise awareness on this issue and we must call for collaboration between the private and public sectors in order to present evidence-based research that can be used to better assess the threat and ultimately facilitate its prevention,” he said.

There is a growing concern that terrorists are benefiting from transnational organized crime, including intellectual property (IP) theft. Over the last two decades, revenues from counterfeiting and piracy have increased significantly, primarily from the illegal sales of counterfeits in virtually every product sector, including fake foods and beverages, books, electrical equipment, chemicals, mobile phone batteries, spare parts, toys and medicines.

“Organized crime has deliberately and in great numbers moved into trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy – largely due to the high profits, low risk of discovery and inadequate or minor penalties if caught,” said Jeffrey Hardy, Director of ICC BASCAP. “And what started out as a business model for organized crime has now also become a way to finance terrorism.”

ICC BASCAP member Jon Huenemann, Vice-President, US and International Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris International (PMI), discussed the shifting nature of the global illicit tobacco trade, and the links to organized crime and terror financing. “This is a high-profit, low-risk business that has become a beacon for organized crime and terror networks,” he said.

The meeting also included a presentation by David Saussinan of the French Union Des Fabricants (UNIFAB) on a recent UNIFAB report on the linkages between counterfeiting and terrorism. Mr Saussinan showcased examples of how the recent terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 had been financed through the sale of counterfeit goods and provided a set of recommendations to fight the sale of counterfeits.

Other speakers included Brian Finlay, President of the Stimson Center, Matteo Pasquali, Deputy Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Emmanuel Roux, Special Representative of INTERPOL to the United Nations.

“The global trade in fakes is not a problem that any country can address in isolation: It requires the collaboration of governments, business and international organizations,” said Mr Hardy. “We commend the UNCCT for organizing today’s event in order to raise awareness on this important issue.

The UNCCT was established in 2011 within the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) Office in the Department of Political Affairs to assist in meeting the capacity-building needs of Member States, while strengthening the United Nation’s counter-terrorism expertise.

The meeting was presided over by Jehangir Khan, Director of the CTITF and UNCCT.