Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Corruption is a major global problem. But we are doing something about it.
Tremendous work has been put into the negotiations and adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Now, expectations are high that this first global tool against corruption will really make a difference.
Let us use this Conference of the States Parties as a unique opportunity to show our common will to move forward. We need positive and constructive decisions in all the main areas where the Conference of States Parties has a mandate to act. Be it on asset recovery, review of implementation or technical assistance.
The momentum is now. If we do not “deliver”, the political,
Today’s agenda item is technical assistance. Let me start by underlining the link between an effective mechanism to assist in the implementation of the UNCAC, asset recovery and technical assistance. These three dimensions are mutually interdependent.
Various proposals are being discussed as to how we could establish a mechanism to assist in the implementation of the Convention.
Norway’s position is that we need an efficient mechanism which has legitimacy, and that is objective and impartial. The mechanism should support States Parties in the implementation of the Convention and facilitate for transparent and open processes that recognize the crucial role of the civil society.
An implementation mechanism can be established and organised in different ways. Self-assessment, other types of information gathering, peer reviews as well as independent expertise, could all be elements in the way forward.
Asset recovery and measures to prevent money laundering is a top priority for many States Parties. A prerequisite for concrete results to be achieved in this field is the ratification of the UNCAC by countries that have not yet done so. In addition, effective implementation as well as appropriate technical assistance is needed.
The implementation of the Convention’s obligations regarding asset recovery and money laundering is a complex and demanding task. But it can be done.
The developed countries have a major responsibility in this regard. There is also an urgent need to build up expertise and capacity globally. We should learn, in a systematic manner, from previous experiences, share between us lessons learned and make effective use of available resources.
Most important, politicians should commit themselves. Only strong, political will can hinder corrupt officials, politicians as well as businessmen and others, to be able to hide their illicit assets in safe havens. The Norwegian Government is strongly committed to this end, and urge upon other States Parties to put the issue of asset recovery, money laundering and safe havens high up on the political agenda - nationally, as well as in different regional, international and global fora. Together, we can make a difference.
It would be a paradox if the fight against corruption should fail due to lack of financing.
The UN Convention against Corruption contains a number of provisions dealing with the need for technical assistance to make the Convention work. We all agree upon these commitments. Now we need to find the best way of providing such assistance.
The implementation of the UNCAC and the fight against corruption naturally belongs to the core activities in the field of development. We should mainstream anti-corruption efforts into ongoing development assistance, including into the regular UN budget. Additional funding will also be needed, and voluntary and earmarked contributions will be important.
In order to make the best use of resources, there is a clear need to have a better overall picture of assistance already provided, as well as current needs directly linked to the implementation of UNCAC. Technical assistance to strengthen a society’s ability to fight corruption must be aligned with other development efforts, such as promotion of good governance, a free press and an active civil society.
Bilateral donors, the UN, the multilateral development banks and developing countries, must strive for better alignment, co-operation and coordination in the field of anti-corruption and good governance. All of us present here today have a clear responsibility to avoid overlap and waste of resources.
Norway invites you to consider the idea of organising an international workshop for practitioners in the field of technical assistance. The aim of the workshop would be to take the discussions on technical assistance further, at a concrete level. It would also provide valuable input to an open-ended working group on technical assistance.
The workshop should focus on the effective implementation of the Convention, in line with the principles laid down in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The workshop should take place within the nearest 6 months – and be organised in cooperation with a developing country interested in hosting the meeting. Norway would be willing to take part in organising such an event, together with other interested countries as well as with the UN and others.
We need public international organisations at the fore front in our fight against corruption. If officials in international organisations can hide behind diplomatic immunity when caught red handed, it seriously damages our work. It also makes a mockery of the Vienna Convention.
The question of bribery of officials of public international organisations is therefore a significant one.
This is why the Norwegian and the French delegations jointly will circulate, for your consideration, a recommendation on bribery of officials of public international organisations.
Together, we propose to establish an open ended intergovernmental working group to which all public international organisations could take part.
The working group would consider the question of bribery of officials of public international organisations, and the necessity to determine the competent jurisdiction. In order to facilitate this work, the secretariat is invited to gather, from such public international organisations, relevant documentation concerning the manner in which they ensure prevention of corruption, and manage corruption cases which may involve their agents.
We must keep in mind that an unjustifiable application of rules governing privileges and immunities might seriously undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Convention. Immunities may also limit the efficiency of possible inquiries and prosecutions against an official of a public international organisation for active or passive bribery. This is why international public organisations should facilitate the waiving of such immunities in situations that justify it.
Let us take this opportunity and live up to the expectations that the UNCAC will make a difference in the fight against corruption.