EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR STATEMENT

Statement of the UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, at the High-level debate to mark the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption

New York, 23 May 2018 

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General for illuminating a basic truth in their remarks - namely, that the fight against corruption is a vital component of our collective efforts to strengthen peace and security, protect human rights and promote sustainable development.

With its 184 States Parties, the UN Convention against Corruption is universally recognized as an important pillar of international cooperation, an integral part of the modern system of international law.

It is hard to believe that just fifteen years ago, there was no global instrument to criminalize corruption, to recover and return stolen proceeds.

Now nearly every country in the world has corruption offences on their books. They cooperate and provide mutual legal assistance.

Corruption enables many other forms of crime.

Therefore, the Convention against Corruption is an essential complement to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, as well as to the drug conventions and global counter-terrorism instruments.

Its effective implementation can support achieving targets across the whole of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tackling corruption, bribery and money laundering, as well as recovering stolen assets, are specific targets under SDG 16.

Moreover, such action is clearly a prerequisite to sustaining foreign investment, innovation and economic growth.

But anti-corruption responses are also crucial to ensuring access to healthcare, water, education and other vital services; protecting forests, oceans and wildlife; and reducing inequalities.

The Convention is further reinforced by a peer review mechanism to support implementation.

The mechanism has helped to set benchmarks, and identify priorities and technical assistance needs.

In the first cycle on criminalization and international cooperation, 181 States parties underwent reviews.

The second cycle on prevention and asset recovery is now underway.

In practice, the review mechanism has served as a powerful incentive for anti-corruption reforms, with 89 percent of countries adopting new laws or amending existing ones.

Sixty percent of countries said that undergoing review had improved their institutional structure, and thus led to increased coordination and dialogue at home.

Sixty percent also reported an improvement in international cooperation due to their participation in the mechanism.

Thanks to the work of the Conference of the States Parties and its Asset Recovery Working Group, as well as the joint UNODC/World Bank Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, we can be proud of some notable success stories.

Last year, Switzerland returned 3.5 million euros to Tunisia. In December, Switzerland signed an agreement with the Nigerian Government to return 321 million dollars.

These two examples represents only the smallest fraction of the funds lost to corruption, money that could be used to build roads and hospitals, teach children and enable opportunities.

Nevertheless, these achievements of the Convention represent solid progress on which we can and must build.

Going forward, I urge governments to focus on the following two areas for action.

Firstly, and most importantly, support and shared responsibility.

We have ample evidence that the review mechanism has done much to keep the Convention relevant and encourage implementation.

States Parties have repeatedly vouched for its usefulness.

Despite this, we have to struggle to mobilize support - most of all financial - for the mechanism.

I call on the international community to maintain its commitment by respecting time frames and providing the necessary funds so we can support developing countries to participate.

Secondly, we need to do better in supporting the achievement of the SDGs through reliable anti-corruption data.

This Assembly has adopted indicators for the SDG anti-corruption targets, based on the experiences of people with the public sector, and measuring occurrences of bribery in such dealings.

The methodological tools to produce data for such indicators are available, but nevertheless, few countries are regularly sharing such metrics.

I encourage governments to support the implementation of the existing indicator framework, which will make progress towards the SDGs measurable and visible.

Excellencies,

I very much hope this 15th anniversary will renew commitment to take the next needed steps in our collective fight against corruption. 

Let us take this opportunity to ensure that justice can be served.

UNODC is here to help you. Thank you.

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