Beijing, 18 October 2023 - On the 10th anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), officials from all over the world gathered in Beijing to discuss how international anti-corruption cooperation could be bolstered through BRI investments.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ghada Waly, noted the BRI’s immense potential to contribute to sustainable development.
“In tandem with global commitments, this is a time for bold and substantial investment; for global cooperation and solidarity; for connectivity and trust,” she declared.
“It is time to leverage the power of a clean silk road.”
Protecting BRI from corruption
The huge investments involved in the BRI make it absolutely essential to safeguard the Initiative from corruption, Ms. Waly said.
By diverting resources from their intended use, prioritizing private gain, eroding efficiency, and hampering environmental sustainability, corruption has the potential to undermine all BRI projects, Ms. Waly warned. “Corruption also enables trafficking and organized crime and allows them to infiltrate licit markets and supply chains.”
She underscored the need to engage anti-corruption authorities at all stages, allow supreme audit institutions to provide oversight, and hold the private sector accountable.
The power of UNCAC
With 190 States Parties, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, or UNCAC, is a powerful tool that can help protect the BRI from corruption. 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of UNCAC, Ms. Waly noted, “presenting an opportunity to take a global stand against corruption.”
UNODC carried out a project on UNCAC implementation in 16 countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt, benefitting over 300 practitioners and establishing a network to tackle international investment projects under the BRI.
To provide BRI partners with guidance, Ms. Waly added that UNODC had also developed several knowledge products on integrity, anti-corruption, and compliance in investment and infrastructure projects.
“Now, our Office stands ready to expand this cooperation and develop networks in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, to connect practitioners and create a series of networks capable of sharing knowledge and successful practices.”
UNODC and anti-corruption
Ms. Waly outlined several areas in which UNODC was working to achieve a world resilient to corruption. As guardian of UNCAC, UNODC supports the Convention’s peer-review mechanism to identify and address technical assistance needs and implementation challenges.
UNODC has also established three anti-corruption hubs to provide technical assistance in Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as eight regional anti-corruption platforms to connect practitioners around the globe. Furthermore, through the Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities – the GlobE network – UNODC facilitates direct contact and cooperation between 169 member authorities from 97 countries.
“To address the lack of reliable data on corruption, we are developing a statistical framework to measure corruption that proposes common definitions and sources,” Ms. Waly continued. UNODC will present the framework to the 10th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC, to be held in Atlanta in December of this year.
Ms. Waly concluded by reiterating that “a Silk Road clean of corruption can be a pathway to greater global prosperity, and a shining example of South-South cooperation. By standing united against corruption, we protect the promise of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the integrity of all global efforts for sustainable development.”