Director General/Executive Director
It is an honour to be with you at this important session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.
We have a decade to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Preventing and combatting corruption offers a key to unlock progress towards ending poverty and inequalities, protecting health and planet, and strengthening justice and the rule of law.
This conference can advance efforts to achieve these global goals, and I hope you will make the most of this critical opportunity.
As Executive Director of the UN office supporting Member States to address drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism, I am convinced that corruption is the sinister enabler of some of the worst problems we face.
I also firmly believe that through anti-corruption action we can tackle some of the major challenges confronting the world today.
By preventing and curbing corruption, we can nip corruption's contribution to instability in the bud.
We can stop corruption from prolonging conflict and spoiling peace.
We can check illicit financial flows and return resources to where they are needed.
By stopping the abuse of public trust for private gain, we can restore a much-needed trust and invest in our future.
The Convention against Corruption represents the premiere weapon in our arsenal against corruption, kept sharp by the Implementation Review Mechanism and ready for action.
Launched ten years ago, the peer review mechanism has helped to strengthen cooperation and coordination between countries.
Most importantly, it has had a visible impact, with 97 per cent of States parties taking part, and some 80 per cent reporting on positive changes undertaken following their reviews.
This session of the Conference of States Parties will further strengthen anti-corruption efforts in all areas, from prevention and asset recovery to measuring corruption and harnessing technology, and engage all stakeholders in this fight.
The work we begin in Abu Dhabi will keep the international spotlight on corruption through next year and beyond, preparing for the first-ever General Assembly Special Session against corruption in 2021.
This offers a genuine chance to agree new approaches and seek innovative solutions to corruption threats facing all our countries.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is helping to advance global action as the international community heads towards the 2021 UNGASS, including through the Secretary-General's UN system-wide task force.
As guardian to the Convention against Corruption, UNODC is proud to support you as secretariat to this conference, and through the technical assistance and capacity building we provide from Vienna and our global field office network.
In closing, allow me to pay tribute to my late colleague Dimitri Vlassis, who founded and led the corruption and economic crime branch at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
He was the engine behind the Convention and for so many years its beating heart - from its inception, through seven sessions of the Conference of States Parties, to the robust process we continue here today.
We at UNODC carry on his fight against corruption, and we do it with the tools he helped so painstakingly to build.
This is the last time I address this Conference as Executive Director of UNODC. It has been an honour and a true source of pride to see how the battle against corruption continues to gain new vigour and new allies.
Now we are on the cusp of a new decade, with renewed hope that together we can win this fight.
There are 15 resolutions on the table and nearly 50 special events taking place in Abu Dhabi. The broad range of topics covered show the depth and breadth of the work that is being done and needs to be done.
The high level of participation and your active engagement is proof that this conference remains the main forum for Member States to strengthen cooperation under the only global and most comprehensive instrument to fight corruption.
I thank our hosts, the United Arab Emirates, for their hospitality and support.
I would like to offer my gratitude to the President of the seventh session, María Consuelo Porras Argueta, and wish the President of the eighth session, Harib Al Amimi, every success in the days ahead.
We rely on you and your deliberations this week to keep the momentum going and take the fight against corruption forward.