Ladies and gentlemen,
It is truly an honour to be with you at the first G20 anti-corruption ministerial meeting.
I very much hope that the G20 members will take forward the good practice of the Presidency of Saudi Arabia and make this an annual tradition.
The leadership of the G20 in the global fight against corruption is needed now more than ever as we join forces to recover better from the COVID-19 crisis, and to get the world back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The G20’s high-level commitment is being reinforced by concrete action with the Riyadh Initiative for Enhancing International Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement, and with Saudi Arabia’s funding pledge of 10 million dollars over the next five years.
This much-needed initiative will launch a Vienna-based, global network for anti-corruption law enforcement authorities to enhance informal cooperation through regular meetings; an online hub and secure communication platform; and knowledge- and capacity-building programmes and tools.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime looks forward to serving as secretariat of the new network, which will build on the results achieved through the UN Convention against Corruption, and act as a force multiplier for existing anti-corruption networks and cooperation.
It has been an honour for UNODC to support Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency, which has pursued an ambitious anti-corruption agenda and has advanced needed, practical improvements, including a new Accountability Report format for G20 countries to measure progress in implementing their anti-corruption commitments.
I very much welcome the focus of the new Accountability Report on international cooperation and asset recovery.
Particularly in the current economic crisis, we need governments to do more to detect, recover and return the proceeds of crime and corruption, to the countries and people who desperately need and deserve these resources.
Illicit capital flight out of Africa is some 88.6 billion dollars annually, equivalent to 3.7 per cent of the continent’s GDP, according to our partners at UNCTAD. This is nearly as much as total annual inflows of official development assistance and foreign direct investment combined.
As countries with the world’s largest economies and developed financial sectors, the G20 can lead by example in denying safe haven to criminals and their ill-gotten gains.
UNODC is also proud to have assisted the G20 Presidency in producing a collection of Good Practices on Combating Corruption in the response to COVID-19. This continues to be a much-needed reference as governments direct enormous resources to protect public health and safety, as well as provide large stimulus packages to sustain economies in the ongoing crisis.
UNODC’s anti-corruption support also draws on our interlinked mandates on crime, drugs and terrorism, and I am pleased that the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group during Italy’s presidency in 2021 will focus on the links between transnational organized crime and corruption. The nexus is obvious, and you cannot address one without tackling the other.
Furthermore, I wish to commend the Saudi Presidency for engaging with business, civil society, women and academia, and I salute the B20, C20 and W20’s powerful contributions. All these stakeholders represent powerful protective factors against corruption, and by ensuring diversity we strengthen accountability.
The G20 has a leading role to play as the UN General Assembly works towards its first-ever Special Session against corruption in June 2021.
UNODC counts on the support of G20 leaders in the preparations for the UNGASS against corruption, to help ensure that Member States adopt a concise and ambitious political declaration, which can then be taken forward at the session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention against Corruption that will be hosted in Egypt after the UNGASS next year.
We have the momentum and the opportunities to keep anti-corruption action at the forefront of the global agenda in 2021.
The Riyadh Initiative is coming precisely at the right time, and can provide a crucial, operational link between high-level pledges to pursue international cooperation and the ability to cooperate in practice.
The network, supported by UNODC in partnership with INTERPOL, OECD, FATF, the Egmont Group and others, will tap into existing networks and cooperation channels, and enhance direct and informal contacts between anti-corruption actors.
In this way, we will empower and enable anti-corruption law enforcement authorities, globally and in developing countries, to engage in informal, cross-border cooperation and information exchange, which can be decisive in successfully pursuing complex corruption and money-laundering cases, and in tracing and recovering stolen assets.
In closing, I wish to thank the G20 countries for your trust in UNODC. I am grateful to the Presidency of Saudi Arabia for its leadership in advancing the network and for its generous financial support.
We rely on all the G20 members to contribute to the sustainability and success of the Riyadh Initiative.
Even as the global pandemic has exposed and worsened inequalities in and between countries, and even as the crisis has deprived governments of resources to address these challenges, I remain confident that together we can achieve greater integrity and justice, and break the cycle of poverty and exclusion.
Solidarity holds the key to unlocking the possibilities of a better and fairer future for all, and UNODC is here to support you.