Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us today. It is my pride and my pleasure to introduce the Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 that we have launched this year at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
I would like to thank Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed for her opening remarks, and for her unshakeable commitment to Africa’s future.
I am also grateful to the Deputy Secretary-General for joining UNODC at the first General Assembly special session against corruption last week.
I also thank the Chair of the African Group, the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, and the World Bank Managing Director for policy development and partnerships for joining us today.
There can be no meaningful discussion of Africa’s future without the voices of Africa and her partners.
For over 30 years, UNODC has enjoyed a thriving partnership with Africa.
Relying on a robust field network comprised of 36 offices and over 430 staff, we operate in all countries across the continent to build capacities and strengthen laws and institutions. Together we have left African societies better equipped to face the threats of drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism.
Africa’s dreams for prosperity and development have rightfully grown more ambitious over the years; at the same time the obstacles that face the continent have grown more complex.
UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Africa is our answer to the continent’s evolving needs, and its expectations from the UN, as we enter the Decade of Action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, and work to realize the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The Strategic Vision recognizes that Africans are Africa’s most precious resource, and that we can do so much more to empower youth, women, and civil society, to leverage their potential for innovation and action towards safe and prosperous communities.
Africa needs more from us. The continent is not projected to meet the targets set by the 2030 and 2063 agendas, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only set its prospects back, reversing years of development progress.
Conflict and terrorism continue to undermine security across the continent, as poverty and inequality only deepen.
Economic growth is at almost half of the global rate. Capital flight continues to rob Africa of enough money to half the continent’s total deficit to achieve the SDGs every year.
Meanwhile, criminals take advantage of increased vulnerabilities to exploit, recruit, and profit.
Access to justice is curtailed by competing priorities and limited resources.
UNODC’s research and policy guidance on the impact of the pandemic, which includes more than 40 briefs and papers, reveals a number of elevated risks across our areas of mandate, ranging from corruption in the health sector, to falsified medicine, to greater risks of violence against women and girls.
Standing at the nexus of Africa’s ambitions for development, security, and human rights, UNODC is well placed to be the partner Africa needs, to recover effectively from the pandemic and progress towards the SDGs.
UNODC’s mandates build on our role as guardian of the Transnational Organized Crime Convention and its protocols against human trafficking, migrant smuggling and illicit firearms, and as guardian to the Convention against Corruption.
Our Office further assists Member States to implement the international drug control conventions, the global counter-terrorism instruments and UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice.
Working with our partners, UNODC supports legislation, policies, and institutions that can effectively counter all forms of crime and their debilitating effect on societies, while protecting and upholding the rights of everyone, equally.
The Strategic Vision, which we first presented in Vienna in February, takes forward UNODC’s cross-cutting work and results across the pillars of UN action.
This includes our efforts to promote the rule of law in support of peacebuilding and to address post-conflict challenges.
It also includes action to tackle dangerous linkages between terrorism and organized crime identified by the Security Council, and to safeguard land, air and seas from exploitation by criminals and terrorists, thereby protecting lives and livelihoods.
The Strategic Vision advances our emphasis on prevention - of drug threats, crime, corruption and radicalization to terrorism - and highlights the need to strengthen gender-sensitive responses and promote women leaders in criminal justice.
It will enable us to work in closer synergy and deliver as One UN, and to produce impactful results with less resources, at a time when efficiency is paramount.
UNODC’s support against corruption, drug trafficking, and criminal and terrorist activity can empower the UN’s wider efforts in Africa, by helping lay the requisite foundations and conditions for sustainable development and effective socioeconomic recovery.
Our Office was engaged in the development of the UN Framework for the Immediate Socioeconomic Response to COVID-19, and we also helped 49 Member States develop their national response plans.
Over the coming period, we will be committed to engaging much more closely and frequently with our partners in New York, using the Strategic Vision to better define UNODC’s contribution to the peace and security agenda and to the sustainable development system.
We will look for your support to join key regional initiatives where we have a role to play and a difference to make.
We will also cooperate closely with UN Resident Coordinators in the field, to position the Strategic Vision as a core element of UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks, and a guiding document for the work of UN Country Teams.
I very much look forward to hearing from today’s speakers on their perspectives and hopes for the Strategic Vision. Today is an opportunity to learn how we can seize this chance and maximize the impact of our collective work in Africa.
Contributing to peace, security and development agendas
UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Africa is designed to support the wider work of the UN in the continent, by assisting countries in addressing challenges that are key to peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights.
Our efforts to implement the Strategic Vision are anchored around five key investment areas:
First, we are promoting public health across the continent by supporting balanced and effective drug control.
We are working to curb illicit drug trafficking and production, as well as falsified medical products, while at the same time promoting access to controlled medicine for those in need.
Second, we are working to make Africa safer from organized crime, terrorism and violence, while placing an emphasis on supporting victims and protecting the most vulnerable from exploitation.
We are also equipping Africa’s institutions to reap the benefits of new technologies, and to confront the threats that they may pose, including through cyber- and cyber-enabled crime.
Third, we are helping to protect Africa’s resources. Criminal networks too often target Africa’s vast natural and cultural wealth, damaging the environment and impacting livelihoods in the process.
To prevent this, we are engaged in building African capacities to protect the continent’s forests, wildlife, fisheries, and precious minerals, as well as cultural property.
Fourth, we are working to safeguard Africa’s people and institutions from corruption and economic crimes, and to foster integrity and accountability at all levels, in communities and in government.
In parallel, we are helping African countries combat money-laundering, curb illicit financial flows, and recover stolen assets, to stem the illegal outflow of wealth from Africa.
Fifth and finally, we are assisting African criminal justice systems in becoming more effective and accountable.
African Member States are tapping into UNODC’s technical expertise to build robust institutions that are able to provide fair, swift, and equal access to justice, and are capable of cooperating effectively across borders.
We are also supporting effective prison management that incorporates rehabilitative approaches, and assisting countries in implementing the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners.
The distinguished speakers for this segment will provide important perspectives on some of these investment areas and their interlinkages with the wider UN agendas.
Africa’s Security Council Members are better placed than anyone to address the continent’s peace and security agenda, while the UN Women’s insights on gender-based violence can inform our implementation in important ways.
It is now my honour to cede the floor to the distinguished speakers.
Enabling action through enhanced partnerships
To power our transformative approach in Africa across our investment areas, UNODC is looking to new and ambitious channels that go beyond business as usual.
In particular, our Office is relying on six major change enablers.
First, innovation will be a driving force to improve our impact on the ground.
Second, prioritizing prevention will allow Africa to tackle the root causes of crime and corruption.
Third, eliminating discrimination and stigma will be needed to effectively provide services to all of those who need them.
The empowerment of Africa’s youth and a greater role for its women are two key enablers, as we strive to work with Africa’s vibrant communities and unleash their potential to prevent crime, promote law, and protect others.
Sixth and finally, stronger partnerships lie at the heart of this Strategic Vision.
This is our invitation to explore untapped opportunities for joint action with you, our partners.
Within the UN system, we aim to work with partners in the UN Sustainable Development Group to identify key synergies and convergences with the work of other UN entities.
The Strategic Vision can work as a guiding framework for discussions on joint programming, assessment, and planning, particularly in the field.
Beyond the UN system, we will work closely with the African Union and other regional bodies, benefitting from their regional expertise while offering our technical know-how.
We will also need support in acquiring sufficient and flexible funding for this ambitious undertaking.
The donor community will be instrumental; I ask you to integrate our Strategic Vision for Africa into your larger commitments and efforts to finance development in Africa.
International financial institutions will also have a central role to play, as will the private sector.
The fight against corruption, money laundering and illicit financial flows is among the core priorities of the Strategic Vision. Last week we launched the Globe network for direct law enforcement cooperation against corruption, and we will need your support to channel and promote such efforts to the benefit of Africa.
The total illicit capital flows from Africa have often exceeded the total external debt of the continent, leading UNCTAD to label Africa a “net creditor to the world”. We do not just dream of a better future for Africa; we owe it to Africa’s people.
On the ground, civil society and academia are valuable allies, and we are pursuing new relationships and enhanced cooperation for greater impact.
Through it all, our African Member States will be our leaders; they will determine the way forward, and the priorities that will guide us.
I am now proud to welcome the speakers for this segment, who will provide insights from UN agencies and the donor community. I look forward to hearing from them on the needs, expectations, and contributions of our valued partners for the Strategic Vision.
In closing, I would like to reiterate my deepest gratitude to our speakers, and to everyone who joined us today.
The Strategic Vision for Africa is a commitment and call to transform our approach in Africa, to better face crime, corruption, terrorism, and drugs, and to keep people at the heart of our collective efforts.
It is also a living document that will evolve through implementation and dialogue.
I was very pleased to listen to the speakers’ views on how we can better harmonize our new approach with the UN peace and security agenda as well as the Development System and its ongoing reform, in order to maximize our contribution to wider efforts.
The coming period will provide ample opportunities to hear the voice of Africa, and to explore how we can best put the Strategic Vision into action together.
This month, UNODC is launching its World Drug Report for 2021. The report highlights the need for a greater focus on Africa, as demographic developments could increase the number of drug users in Africa by up to 40 percent by 2030.
Africa and its youth – who are more susceptible to drug use than adults – will need our support in protecting their health and their future.
This year will also witness the General Assembly’s appraisal of the Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, in New York. It will provide an excellent opportunity to more effectively address trafficking in Africa.
I invite you to work with us to leverage the Strategic Vision to give Africans a louder voice in the conversation, and better support the continent against this crime.
Later in the year, in December, the 9th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption will be held in Africa, specifically in Egypt, where the world will take stock of a landmark year for anti-corruption.
The Conference will put into action the political declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly Special Session, and further develop the Globe anti-corruption network, which can make a decisive contribution towards the objectives of the Strategic Vision.
Working together, we can impede criminal, corrupt, and terrorist networks from spreading violence, exploiting the vulnerable, damaging the environment, and plundering the resources needed to finance growth in Africa.
I call on our UN friends to work with us to identify synergies; on our donors to support us with much needed financing; and on our African partners to help us shape our efforts to best meet their needs.
UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Africa is part of the UN’s promise to leave no one behind in Africa. We can only deliver on that promise by delivering together.