GlobE Network members,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome and thank you for joining us today for the opening session of the first GlobE Network Meeting of anti-corruption authorities.
We at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime are proud to serve as the secretariat for the GlobE Network in Vienna.
Although the pandemic continues to limit the ability of all of us to gather today in person, we are deeply grateful for the continued commitment demonstrated by Member States to join and participate in the GlobE Network.
It was just a few months ago that the UN General Assembly held its first-ever special session against corruption, and welcomed the creation of the GlobE Network to take forward international action against this crime.
Membership opened on 3rd June, and today we stand at 77 anti-corruption authorities from 46 countries – impressive interest indeed at the global level.
We have surpassed our target of 30 Member States by the first network meeting by 53 per cent, and we are well on our way towards our long-term goal of universal membership.
The response has been very encouraging, and speaks to the growing awareness that cross-border cooperation against corruption is needed more than ever.
G20 leaders, in their Rome Declaration last month, also welcomed the progress represented by the GlobE Network as an important means to further improve international cooperation on anti-corruption.
The GlobE Network arrives on the world scene at a critical time, when the COVID-19 crisis has derailed development progress and worsened corruption, bribery and illicit flows, stealing away resources when we can least afford it.
The sheer magnitude and scale of transnational corruption is apparent from international news headlines on any given day.
Corruption continues to compromise emergency responses, health care, critical infrastructure, climate action, education, and job creation, disadvantaging women and youth, and leaving all our societies less resilient and less equipped to recover.
Through the GlobE Network, we can tackle these challenges and deliver on one of the main promises of the UN Convention against Corruption: namely, to improve global cooperation, through article 48 on “direct cooperation” between law enforcement agencies.
The key word for the GlobE Network is “operational”.
When anti-corruption law enforcement authorities can communicate directly with their peers in different countries, and share information proactively prior to the mutual legal assistance process, they can identify criminals and assets faster and more efficiently.
With this in mind, the GlobE Network will enable anti-corruption authorities from developed and developing countries to connect with allies across borders, to engage in secure and informal information exchanges, build trusted partnerships, and work with existing networks to advance their specific corruption cases.
This meeting marks an important step towards building a meaningful, agile and operational community of practitioners working across the globe, keeping bureaucracy and cumbersome processes to a minimum so that countries can swiftly recover and return stolen assets, and bring the corrupt to justice.
Your decisions this week will help determine the priorities and services that best meet the needs of your fellow practitioners.
Over the coming days, I urge you to have in mind the operational nature and agility required from the GlobE Network, which should serve as a forum for practical decisions to facilitate cooperation and to find pragmatic alternatives to burdensome formalities.
Next month, at the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption in Egypt, we will have the opportunity to further advance these efforts, strengthen political will and build practitioner relationships through bilateral meetings.
I hope that all of you will join us in person in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Your continued commitment is deeply appreciated and necessary. Only through this kind of communication and cross-border cooperation can we dismantle the criminal systems that enable the corrupt to steal with impunity.
Only through an active alliance of practitioners, working together, empowering each other and building on the efforts of one other, can we ensure high-level, large-scale corruption does not compromise our global efforts to build forward and recover with integrity.
In closing, I would like to extend my appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are able to be here today thanks to the Riyadh Initiative, launched during the Saudi G20 Presidency last year.
I would also like to thank Spain as the first member of the GlobE Network, for agreeing to act as interim chair.
Most of all, I would like to thank the 77 member authorities and counting, who are helping to make the GlobE Network a reality.
And to all participants from countries that have yet to join the Network, we look forward to welcoming you as full GlobE members very soon.
Thank you, and I wish you a productive meeting.