8346th Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security

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10-Sep-2018 01:56:11
Global cost of corruption at least 5 percent of World Gross Domestic Product, Secretary-General tells Security Council, citing World Economic Forum data at 8346th meeting.

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In its first‑ever meeting to address the links between corruption and conflict, the Security Council today considered ways to effectively disrupt the illicit siphoning of money by leaders and other practices that weaken State institutions, thereby making a country susceptible to conflict.

“Corruption breeds disillusion with Government and governance and is often at the root of political dysfunction and social disunity,” Secretary-General António Guterres told the 15‑member Council, which bears the mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Noting that corruption can also be a driver of conflict, upon which it thrives, and is linked to such forms of instability as illicit trafficking in arms, drugs and people, terrorism and violent extremism, he stressed that the problem is present in all nations — rich and poor, North and South, developed and developing. Citing estimates by the World Economic Forum, he said the global cost of corruption is at least $2.6 trillion, or 5 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), adding that, according to the World Bank, businesses and individuals pay more than $1 trillion in bribes every year.

Also briefing the Council was John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co‑founder of The Sentry, who said: “Regrettably, there is currently no coordinated strategy to gain the necessary leverage to disrupt the illicit siphoning of money by leaders and their foreign business partners, or to break the link between corruption and conflict.” He added: “Throughout history, war may have been hell, but it has been very lucrative for small groups of conflict profiteers.” Today’s deadliest conflicts in Africa, such as those in South Sudan, Somalia, northern Nigeria, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are sustained by extraordinary opportunities for illicit self‑enrichment that emerge in war economies, where there is a visible nexus between grand corruption and mass atrocities, he said, calling upon the Council and other interested parties to take the necessary measures, such as levying sanctions against entire networks, not just individuals; strengthening anti‑money‑laundering measures; and prosecuting financial crimes associated with atrocities.

In the ensuing debate, the representative of the United States, which holds the Council Presidency for September, spoke in her national capacity, noting that her delegation convened today’s meeting because the relationship between corruption and conflict has gone unaddressed for too long. The problem, “which has been staring us in the face”, allows transnational crime and drug trafficking to flourish, resulting in massive flows of desperate people and posing challenges to regions as well as the wider global community. Recalling that the “Arab Spring” was a result of popular protests against corruption, she said the United Nations remains too willing to ignore corruption as simply “the cost of doing business” in many countries.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said that corruption exists in all nations, including the United States, whose delegate lectured the Council on the issue today. He noted that in that country’s unique system of legalized lobbying, commercial interests are inextricably linked with Government contracts. He went on to state that his country places particular importance on the review mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, based on the principles of State sovereignty and non‑intervention in domestic affairs. However, the Russian Federation does not support efforts to enshrine corruption as a new item on the Security Council’s agenda, he emphasized, warning that such an eventuality will only lead to the undermining of existing international instruments.

Bolivia’s representative stressed that the issue of corruption falls under the purview of the General Assembly, cautioning that the Council’s encroachment on the work of other organs could risk undermining the United Nations Charter and imperilling the rights of nations. The Council must not allow today’s meeting to be viewed as a precedent, or the issue of corruption to be used for ideological purposes, he said, while underlining that it should not be used as a pretext for undermining the legitimacy of Governments or to push for regime change.

Ethiopia’s representative noted that, while nothing prevents the Council from considering corruption in the context of specific situations on its agenda — through appropriate sanctions or banning trade in natural resources — it should avoid encroaching on the mandates of other United Nations organs, given the many urgent peace and security issues already requiring its attention.

Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate said his country has overhauled institutional structures to stamp out corruption, noting that corruption has the potential to damage peace and security in post‑conflict countries, which could relapse due to weak institutions, potentially getting caught in a vicious cycle. Peace agreements should therefore include anti‑corruption elements, he argued.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Kazakhstan, China, Netherlands, Sweden, Peru, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and Poland.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:02 p.m.
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2231023
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2231403