Thank you Mr. Chairman,
Under this agenda item I will focus my statement on the issue of corruption and the recovery of stolen assets, which is both of particular interest to my government.
Corruption is a major problem for the international community and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is the first truly global instrument to address this problem. We firmly believe that the fight against corruption only can be won by extensive international cooperation and that every effort should be made to operationalize the provisions of the UNCAC. This is certainly not a convention to be signed and forgotten!
The negotiating of and the continued work on the UNCAC has lead developed and developing countries alike to set a sharp focus on combating corruption. It has created hope and expectations, but also an obligation for us to continue the progress of our work so the Convention can reach its potential. Our task is to ensure progress on asset recovery, review of implementation and technical assistance, three dimensions that are mutually interdependent. Through this we can maintain the carefully balanced compromise that has made the Convention acceptable to all countries.
The first Conference of State Parties agreed that it is necessary to establish an implementation review mechanism. The second Conference of State Parties tasked the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Review of Implementation to prepare terms of reference for a review mechanism. During the past year this working group has met several times to discuss the terms of reference. The discussions have been inspiring and fruitful and we now see the outline of a review mechanism that will assist countries in the implementation of the Convention, identify needs and provide support.
Effective implementation will ensure that the provisions on asset recovery and international cooperation function as intended. Making asset recovery work is also a way to demonstrate to the international community that justice is on the side of the victims of corruption.
We see that there is a common will to move forward. Progress can only be accomplished with the hard work and energy of all of us to transform these necessary changes into solid realities. With only a few short weeks to the third Conference of State Parties in Doha, the time has come for the State Parties to make an extra effort to reach an agreement on the terms of reference for a review mechanism. We urge all State Parties to contribute constructively to this process and to commit to the adoption of an effective, transparent and inclusive mechanism for the review of implementation in Doha. Together we can take the fight against corruption one step further!
Illicit financial flows represent major impediments to development. Estimates show that illicit financial flows out of developing countries are eight to ten times higher than all official development assistance to developing countries every year. Asset recovery is a fundamental part of the UNCAC, and is of key importance to many developing countries. The provisions in the Convention provide a unique framework. The challenge is to ensure their effective implementation by State Parties.
To secure effective cooperation between states we need to develop best practices and training tools to guide practitioners and enhance their knowledge of this challenging task. Both the Working Group on Asset Recovery and the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative are important to enhance global learning and collaboration between states and should receive the broadest and strongest support possible.
The lack of transparency and information on beneficial owners of corporations, trusts and foundations provide an incentive for corruption and makes it difficult to recover assets. Tax havens and jurisdictions that offer financial services and company domiciliation for legitimate business purposes are contributing to upholding and legitimizing structures that are also used for hiding illegal money flows. Hence, it is important that states require that information on beneficial ownership is available on public record to facilitate effective due diligence. Equally, states should ensure that the principle of “know your customer” is effectively applied in the banking- and financial sector. It is also vital that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements for establishing beneficial ownership as part of the customer due diligence process are implemented globally. This will enable national authorities to better track and address illegal activities.