|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT LAUNCH OF ‘STOLEN ASSET RECOVERY INITIATIVE’, SAYS MEASURE
IS MAJOR STEP FORWARD IN COLLECTIVE EFFORTS TO ADDRESS CORRUPTION
Following is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, in New York today:
I am delighted to welcome all of you to the United Nations for this important event. The launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative is a major step forward in our collective efforts to address the serious problem of corruption.
Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law. It leads to violations of human rights. It erodes public trust in government. It can even kill -- for example, when corrupt officials allow medicines to be tampered with, or when they accept bribes that enable terrorist acts to take place.
It is a global problem that calls for global action. That is why, in October 2003, Member States adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Almost 100 States have now ratified it. The Convention is a powerful instrument to make the arm of the law longer and stronger. It provides for robust measures to prevent and fight corruption.
Today, two members of the UN family at the forefront of our anti-corruption efforts -- the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime -- have joined forces to help States implement one of the key measures of the Convention -- asset recovery.
The theft of public assets from developing countries is a grave and growing concern. The cross-border flow of the global proceeds from criminal activities, corruption and tax evasion is estimated to be more than $1 trillion per year. But the true cost of corruption far exceeds the value of the assets stolen.
It has adverse effects on the delivery of basic social services. It has a particularly harmful impact on the poor. And it is a major obstacle to achieving our Millennium Development Goals.
Since asset theft is usually a transnational crime, recovering stolen assets requires multilateral cooperation. The United Nations is well placed to provide technical and legal assistance in this effort.
The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative can foster greater cooperation between developed and developing countries -- and between the public and private sectors -- to ensure that looted assets are returned to their rightful owners. It is, of course, also essential that the recovered assets be utilized wisely.
Together, let us make the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative into a strong deterrent for those who may be tempted to steal public funds. And let us use it to strengthen the capacity of Governments to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
President Zoellick, Executive Director Costa, I wish you and your colleagues every success in the implementation of this crucial initiative.
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