Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation - General Assembly, 32nd Special Session, 5th Plenary Meeting (2-4 June 2021)

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04-Jun-2021 02:33:27
Speakers call for stronger action to prevent misuse of government authority, as General Assembly concludes special session on corruption.

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Stronger measures are needed to prevent people in positions of power from misusing their authority for their personal gain, speakers said today as the General Assembly concluded its thirty-second special session on the fight against corruption.

“Nothing offends me more […] than the case of political leaders who are themselves at the receiving end of bribes in return for political favours,” said Duarte Pacheco, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), calling for stringent measures to prosecute cases of grand corruption involving those officials who steal from the public purse with impunity.

While no consensus has been found on the establishment of a criminal court to investigate such cases, it is clear that much more can be done to track ill-gotten money in tax havens, disclose the real beneficial ownership of those assets, and ultimately, put the money back where it belongs.

Cynthia Gabriel, Founder and Executive Director of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, pointed to corruption around the financing of political parties, intelligence-sharing and other areas that has allowed perpetrators to hide from criminal action. This is a huge failure of the international system, she declared, expressing disappointment that no agreement was reached, during the special session, on measures to strengthen international cooperation.

Ibrahim Ameer, Maldives’ Minister for Finance, said that financial statements of all politically appointed and elected public officials are now disclosed to the public. “Our continued efforts and reforms have yielded concrete results,” he said, noting that in 2020 his country ranked 75th in the global Corruption Perception Index, up from 135th.

Libya’s delegate said that although his country ratified the Convention in 2005, instability over the past years has created an environment that fuels corruption. The Libyan people have been pillaged and have lost resources to illicit transfers of funds and assets. “Without concerted international cooperation, nothing can be achieved,” he said, calling for resolutions to prevent such practices.

Haiti’s representative said that in his country, corruption is largely a legacy of the colonial, imperialist model of illegal wealth accumulation, which continues to this day. Outlining domestic efforts, including relatively new legal measures, to reverse those historic trends, he said it has established a raft of anti-corruption institutions including a Supreme Court of Auditors for Administrative Disputes and a National Commission for Public Procurement.

Robin Ogilvy, Special Representative and Permanent Observer of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to the United Nations, said as a result of the bloc’s efforts, 651 people and many legal entities were criminally sanctioned for bribery crimes by the end of 2019. OECD also supports good governance initiatives in the public and private sectors and works to eradicate tax havens. As a result, nearly 100 jurisdictions have exchanged information on some 84 million accounts worth trillions of dollars.

The three-day special session brought together heads of Government and State, ministers, high-ranking diplomats, as well as representatives of observer entities and civil society. The world leaders adopted the Political Declaration, titled “Our common commitment to effectively addressing challenges and implementing measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation” (document A/S-32/L.1) on 2 June.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Turkey, Nepal, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Chile, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Andorra, Tunisia and Senegal. An observer from the Holy See also spoke, as did representatives of the International Development Law Organization, the International Criminal Police Organization, the International Anti-Corruption Academy, the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe, the International Chamber of Commerce, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, Fundación para la Democracia Internacional, Transparency International Zambia, the Basel Institute on Governance, and the First Bank of Nigeria.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 7 June to elect its President for the seventy-sixth session.

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