Thank you Mr. Chairman,
Under this agenda item I will focus my statement on the issue of corruption and the recovery on stolen assets, which is of particular interest to my government.
Corruption is a major problem for the international community and one that can only be solved through international cooperation and solutions. The United Nations Convention against corruption (UNCAC) is the first global instrument to address this and thus of great importance.
Tremendous work has been put into the negotiation and adoption of UNCAC, and there are now more than 100 State Parties to the Convention. This has been achieved in record pace, creating hope and expectations, but also an obligation for us to keep up the progress of our work in order for the Convention to make a difference.
We see that there is a common will to move forward. Our task is to ensure progress on asset recovery, review of implementation and technical assistance, and these dimensions are mutually interdependent. Through this we can maintain the important balance which made the Convention acceptable to both developed and developing countries.
At the first Conference of the State Parties there was agreement that an implementation mechanism is necessary. Our task is now to develop a mechanism that will effectively assist countries in the implementation of the Convention, identify needs and provide support.
Effective implementation will also ensure that the UNCACs provisions on asset recovery and international cooperation function as intended. Asset recovery is an essential element of the Convention, and is of key importance to many developing countries. It is also a way to demonstrate to the international community that justice is on the side of the victims of corruption.
Important decisions were taken at the first Conference of the State Parties. As a result, several processes are now in progress to take the UNCAC forward. These include the three intergovernmental working groups, the ongoing pilot project on a review mechanism, and the seminar on technical assistance, asset recovery initiatives and the dialogue with international organisations on bribery of officials of public international organisations.
Our next important opportunity to ensure further progress will be the Second Conference of the State Parties in Bali, in 2008. We urge all Parties to contribute to make this event as successful as the first Conference. We would in particular like to see further steps taken to ensure full implementation of the Convention.
The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative was launched earlier this year. Norway warmly congratulates the United Nations and the World Bank on this very important initiative.
Theft of public assets from developing countries is indeed a huge problem and we need to build strong international partnerships to stop these crimes.
Corruption has to be fought at all levels and is very much a part of the governance discussion. Focus should also be on the financial structures, often set up in rich countries that facilitate corruption and other criminal activities by laundering and hiding stolen assets. We are pleased that the StAR-initiative will be addressing also these issues.
The issue of illicit financial flows from developing countries is sadly overlooked in the debate on financing for development.
Illicit flows from developing countries come in addition to the legitimate net outward flows, which amounted to USD 662 billion in 2006. Illicit capital flows often take the form of assets and funds generated through corruption but also through other criminal activities such as the drug trade, human trafficking and tax evasion, and are of course not reported in the public accounts. The annual global cross-border flow of such proceeds is estimated to be between USD 1 and 1.6 trillion. About half of this comes from developing countries.
These are huge amounts. Compare them to the USD 150 billion needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
We need to gain a better understanding of the developmental and other impacts of this drain of resources from developing countries. We need to establish the size of the losses, and appreciate that such activities rob countries of the opportunity to put these funds to much better use, thereby undermining the development of healthy societies and democracies.
The Monterrey Consensus states that an enabling domestic environment is vital for reducing capital flight. This is true, but the other part of the equation relates, of course, to the question of who receives these assets. Who benefits, and what mechanisms are there to facilitate such flows?
Lately, there has been an increased focus on the financial centres that facilitate illicit financial flows by hiding and laundering dirty money. We need to ask ourselves whether we have developed the right policies and tools to deal with this problem.
In the run-up to the Financing for Development review conference in Doha next year, Norway would like to put these questions higher up on the international agenda. We are counting on the General Assembly’s support in building strong international partnerships to stop illicit capital flows out of developing countries.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.