- the organisation of seminars and expert group meetings on crime and criminal justice issues of relevance to the European countries,
- assistance in the provision of technical assistance on request,
- the conduct of research,
- the granting of short-time scholarships, and
- the collection and dissemination of information on matters falling within its competence.
In carrying out its main functions, HEUNI has organised and co-organised a number of major seminars as well as smaller expert meetings on specific themes. The technical assistance projects involve, for example, the provision of expertise or the organisation of training. HEUNI's research projects are carried out either independently or in cooperation with other institutions, such as UNODC, the Council of Europe, the EU and the Scandinavian Research Council on Criminology, and individual researchers.
The topics of the seminars, the meetings of experts and the research projects are selected on the basis of two primary criteria:
- the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme and
- issues of priority for the European region.
HEUNI has given considerable attention to the needs of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
HEUNI has also assisted the United Nations Secretariat in the drafting of various documents for submission to the policy-making bodies of the United Nations, including the Crime Commission and the quinquennial United Nations Congresses on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Similarly, HEUNI has been active in developing the United Nations structure for international co-operation, and in assisting the Commission with its work.
In the collection and dissemination of information, HEUNI seeks to serve as a clearing house in identifying, for interested governments, institutions and individual experts, sources of information on recent developments in crime, criminal justice and criminal policy throughout Europe.