Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to join this first BRICS Ministerial Meeting on Anti-Corruption.
The BRICS is an important player in promoting multilateralism, South-South cooperation, and efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Corruption is a cross-cutting and transnational challenge, with significant implications on security and development prospects around the world, and I am very glad to see the BRICS devoting greater attention to fighting corruption across borders.
Since its establishment in 2015, the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group has tackled issues of great relevance, such as law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery, as well as awareness-raising and education.
Now, under the leadership of China, the BRICS is taking that good work forward through this Ministerial meeting, reflecting a high-level political commitment to fight corruption, promote integrity, and foster international cooperation.
I take this opportunity to congratulate China on assuming the Presidency of the BRICS, and to express my appreciation to China and its National Commission of Supervision for organizing this meeting.
Our world is facing daunting shared challenges, including health, economic, and climate crises that threaten to put the Sustainable Development Goals out of reach.
The global economy has suffered one shock after another.
Emerging economies, which are often sensitive to fluctuations elsewhere, have been some of the most severely affected in the past two years, with relatively large drops in economic output and high increases in inflation and unemployment.
The best hope to overcome this situation lies in shared solutions founded on integrity, transparency, and the rule of law.
National and international institutions will need to take effective action and mobilize immense resources to restore economic growth and rescue development prospects.
To succeed, they need to be safeguarded.
Corruption and illicit financial flows drain resources and siphon them away from where they are needed most, diverting them instead for private, criminal gain, often across borders.
Collusion and fraud stifle competition and undermine results in both the public and private sectors.
Impunity and money-laundering enable crime and hamper justice and accountability, which are important building blocks for recovery and progress.
As long as the corrupt and their criminal proceeds have places to hide, we continue to pursue recovery and development with one hand tied behind our back.
The world needs practical frameworks to enforce the law across jurisdictions and build capacities where they are needed, based on a strong international consensus in support of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
Our rules-based international order is capable of producing solutions to safeguard resources and institutions.
A strong international consensus against corruption is already in place.
In 2021, a landmark year for international anti-corruption efforts, UN Member States came together at the first-ever General Assembly Special Session on Corruption in June, and adopted a robust political declaration containing important commitments.
In December of the same year, the ninth Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption took crucial steps to follow-up on the implementation of those commitments, including the adoption of the Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration on combating corruption in times of crisis.
UNODC is the proud Secretariat of the CoSP and guardian of the UNCAC.
I was very pleased to see States Parties take their UNGASS commitments forwards in Sharm El-Sheikh, and look forward to the intersessional meeting of the CoSP in September in Vienna, which will continue to build on those milestones.
To consolidate international commitments and put them into action, the leadership of major players such as the BRICS and its Member States is of utmost importance.
I welcome the communique that is envisioned to be adopted by this ministerial meeting, which affirms the negative effect of corruption on development, recognizes the UNCAC as the universal framework for international cooperation against corruption, and stresses the importance of information-sharing, capacity-building, and awareness-raising.
I also welcome practical steps taken by the BRICS, such as the recently launched Initiative on Denial of Safe Haven to Corruption, a framework that can strengthen the implementation of the UNCAC.
UNODC expertise and operational capacities are well positioned to support the vision expressed by the BRICS.
To strengthen the international normative framework against corruption, UNODC is supporting States Parties in the full and effective implementation of UNCAC, including through technical assistance.
Last year, we provided technical assistance on anti-corruption and the implementation of the Convention to 128 countries.
We remain committed to helping countries fight corruption, and in this regard the UNCAC review mechanism is a key tool in identifying gaps and needs.
The first review cycle has almost been finalized, and the second cycle is envisaged to conclude in 2024.
I am grateful for the positive engagement of BRICS countries with the review mechanism.
Most of them have successfully completed the first cycle review and are undergoing the second. They have also served as reviewing States under both cycles.
To bolster expertise and provide focused assistance in realizing international anti-corruption commitments, UNODC is establishing regional anti-corruption hubs, including a newly established hub in Pretoria, covering Africa.
And to facilitate cross-border cooperation on corruption cases, UNODC is supporting a number of dedicated operational platforms.
The GlobE network of anti-corruption law enforcement authorities, to which UNODC is the Secretariat, has expanded rapidly since its launch last year, with 108 authorities from 62 countries as members.
The network provides a secure, direct, and swift channel of communication between authorities, as well as a forum for the exchange of best practices.
GlobE boasts authorities from the majority of BRICS countries among its members, including in the membership of its steering committee.
Together with the World Bank, we are also assisting countries in cooperating to end safe havens for proceeds of crime and corruption, through the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative - StAR.
Alongside our operational support, we are also helping societies build resilience to corruption.
Last year, UNODC launched the Global Resource for Anti-Corruption Education and Youth Empowerment initiative – GRACE. The initiative aims to work with educators, academics, youth, and anti-corruption authorities to promote ethics and integrity across different levels of education and in academia, as well as to empower youth as future guardians of integrity.
Our Office is also cooperating with businesses to safeguard the private sector from corruption.
UNODC is an active player in the UN Global Compact with businesses, and the guardian of the Compact’s 10th Principle on Anti-Corruption.
Our Office supports businesses in Africa, Asia and Latin America to protect supply chains, prevent corrupt practices, and engage in collective action for integrity.
We recently launched an online Business Integrity Portal that serves as a one-stop shop for resources on anti-corruption in the private sector.
BRICS Member States are important partners in UNODC’s anti-corruption work, and we are actively engaged with you through our different projects.
In China, we worked closely with the National Commission of Supervision to launch an Anti-Corruption Practitioners Network along the Silk Road Economic Belt in 2021.
In Brazil, we are engaged with authorities on fast-tracking the implementation of UNCAC, supporting asset recovery through the StAR initiative, and promoting business integrity.
In India, UNODC is assisting in the implementation of international anti-corruption commitments under the Abu Dhabi Declaration Programme.
In the Russian Federation, we are providing support on beneficial ownership transparency, anti-corruption education, and preventing corruption in sport.
And in South Africa, the headquarters of one of our new anti-corruption hubs, our Office worked with the National Department of Health to establish effective corruption risk assessment in the context of the COVID-19 response and recovery project.
We will continue to support BRICS Member States in combatting corruption and implementing their commitments, and we stand ready to increase our engagement with the BRICS on this topic.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In an era of evolving threats, corruption is a force-multiplier for the dangers facing our societies, and a topic of great relevance in international discussions.
The role of corruption in deepening environmental degradation and climate change is a growing concern, as we approach the 27th UN Climate Change Conference in November in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Cyber-enabled money laundering and acts of corruption remain a dynamic challenge, as Member States continue to work towards a UN convention on the criminal misuse of ICTs.
To ensure that we have a solid basis to tackle shared challenges and rescue the SDGs, efforts to effectively implement the UNCAC and follow-up commitments will be essential.
The commitment of the BRICS to strengthen joint anti-corruption action can help stop corruption’s detrimental effect on development within and beyond BRICS countries.
Your efforts can also foster progress towards eliminating the safe havens that make corruption possible and profitable, and providing an example to the international community of how to leverage the UNCAC for greater impact.
UNODC is ready to work with the BRICS and its members to step up anti-corruption efforts.