COPLA

The COPLA Campaign: Positive forward momentum

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by Camila López Badra

The campaign to establish a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court against Transnational Organized Crime (COPLA, for its acronym in Spanish), which began in 2013 in the Argentine NGO Democracia Global, continues to have positive forward momentum. (Previous updates on the campaign can be found at wfmcanada.org/?s=copla)

There have been recent political declarations in support of the proposal in various forums, notably from the Chamber of Deputies from the Republic of Paraguay in May 2019 and the National Group of Parliamentarians for Global Action in Ecuador in June 2019.

Support also came in September, at the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, where Mauricio Macri, president of Argentina stated “We continue working with the Latin America and the Caribbean governments to achieve the necessary consensus for the creation of a regional legal body capable of confronting this and other types of transnational organized crime.”

In October, Fernando Iglesias was invited by the Colombia Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present the COPLA Campaign at the Hemispheric Conference on “Corruption and its potential solutions.” Iglesias presented the COPLA campaign at a panel on “International Partners Against Corruption.” There was much interest expressed in the proposal.

Some of the points discussed during the presentation were:

  • Corruption and organized crime have gained importance and power as a consequence of globalization. Criminal organizations have gained transnational status while the national legal institutions have been unable to adapt to these changes.
  • We need to use two major tools to solve these problems, such as international cooperation and regional integration, which should be complementary.
  • The COPLA proposal seeks to create a regional organization against organized crime that functions as a complementary body to national justice and focuses on the regional problem of organized crime.
  • In order to carry out the campaign, apart from the support of governments, which are the main actors that face corruption, the contribution of civil society in promoting this initiative within each state is necessary.
  • Establishing the COPLA campaign is a state policy announced by the President of Argentina before the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2018 and 2019, and by the Vice-president of Argentina in 2017.

In September, Fernando Iglesias and Camila López Badra presented the campaign at the International Association of Prosecutors meeting held in Buenos Aires. As a result, the Latin American Federation of Public Prosecutors pledged to issue a statement in support of the creation of COPLA in the near future.

Also, a Brazilian Senator recently presented a resolution to create a Parliamentary Front in support of the COPLA Campaign. A presentation in the Brazilian Senate is expected soon. There is also ongoing work to promote the initiative in Ecuador and Chile.

In addition, an academic paper was recently published about COPLA. The article, COPLA: A Transnational Criminal Court for Latin America and the Caribbean, was written by Robert J. Currie and Jacob Leon, of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Canada. It appears in the Nordic Journal of International Law 88 (2019), p587-613.

And finally, on December 3 2019, at the time of international meetings of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, a successful COPLA side event was held at the Argentine Embassy which included diplomats from the Latin American region, as well as civil society representatives and legal experts from around the world.

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