Economic Committee Is Told ‘Illicit Financial Flows’ Major Obstacle to Development, Reportedly Far Exceeding Official Assistance
Economic Committee Is Told ‘Illicit Financial Flows’ Major Obstacle to Development, Reportedly Far Exceeding Official Assistance
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)
Economic Committee Is Told ‘Illicit Financial Flows’ Major Obstacle
to Development, Reportedly Far Exceeding Official Assistance
Debate Begins on Practices Contrary to UN Convention against Corruption
Illicit financial flows represented a major obstacle to development and estimates showed that such flows out of developing countries were eight to 10 times higher than all official development assistance coming in every year, Norway’s representative said today, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its general debate on preventing and combating corrupt practices.
The Committee also considered the transfer of illicit assets and the return of such assets to the countries of origin, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption, as well as the separate subject of science and technology for development.
The recovery of stolen assets was best addressed through extensive international cooperation, the delegate of Norway said, and every effort should be made to realize the Convention’s objectives. “This is certainly not a convention to be signed and forgotten,” she added.
Introducing reports by the Secretary-General on corruption prevention, Dimitri Vlassis, the Chief of the Corruption and Economic Crime Section, Division for Treaty Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said that five more States had ratified the Convention since June, bringing the total number of parties to 141.
The documents he introduced included the Secretary-General’s report on preventing and combating corrupt practices and the transfer of assets of illegal origin and return of such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and his note on crime prevention and criminal justice.
Mr. Vlassis also described the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, which conducted policy studies on select asset recovery topics, such as politically exposed people, money-laundering and the misuse of corporate vehicles. The StAR Initiative also developed practical guides and tools for asset recovery, particularly using modern information technology as well as a practical, step-by-step manual for asset recovery, an asset and income declarations guide, and an expanded version of the UNODC Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool.
Sweden’s representative, speaking for the European Union, said her delegation was determined to take urgent, decisive steps to continue to combat corruption in all it forms, to avoid the siphoning off of vital development resources. Good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability were necessary to prevent corruption and the transfer of illicit assets, and required strong institutions at all levels, particularly with regard to legal and judicial systems.
Progress had already been made with regard to asset recovery, particularly through StAR, the joint UNODC-World Bank initiative, she said. The paramount challenge now was to develop a robust mechanism to help States effectively implement the Convention, as a successful review mechanism would give credibility to the United Nations, the Convention and its parties.
Iraq’s representative said that corruption was a major obstacle to sustainable development and societal advancement, one that posed the same level of danger as terrorism. However, the establishment of the Convention illustrated the international community’s will to combat corruption. For its part, Iraq had created a constitutionally-mandated independent body to combat corruption and had taken steps to enhance political oversight. Furthermore, the Government had signed the Global Compact and, in partnership with the UNODC and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had held a conference in Baghdad last year that led to the signing of the Baghdad Declaration on Combating Corruption.
To promote investment in Iraq, UNODC and UNDP had worked with the Government on a justice and integrity programme. That 5-year programme, launched in September 2008, focused on accountability and transparency, which were integral to ending corruption.
Mexico’s representative, speaking for the Rio Group, said it was important for the General Assembly to maintain its support for the Convention against Corruption and to renew its call for countries to join it. Strategies for combating corruption should consider preventive and sanctioning measures that targeted the private sector. Further, asset recovery was and would continue to be a priority task that required Member States to invest energy, time and resources to foster mutual trust that would guarantee cooperation. Donor countries should help developing countries to promote the creation of the necessary professional and technical capacities in this field.
On the subject of science and technology for development, he praised the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development with regard to agriculture and rural development, as well as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for its support of project implementation. The situation for the poor in rural areas was of particular concern, and agricultural innovation was an important step towards poverty reduction.
Sudan’s representative, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that globalization challenged growth and sustainable development, in particular for developing countries. While some countries had successfully adapted to globalization, many others, especially among the least developed countries, remained marginalized. Access to technology had therefore become vital in a world economy based on knowledge, and he reiterated that easier access to science and technology would help developing countries advance in areas of agriculture, health, energy, trade, water as well as environmental protection.
Anne Miroux, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on science and technology for development.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia (for the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Saint Lucia (for the Caribbean Community), United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Qatar, Venezuela and Brazil.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., Thursday, 22 October, to take up its agenda item on eradication of poverty and other development issues.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to consider its agenda item on: preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illicit origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption; and science and technology for development.
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illegal origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (document A/64/122), which gives a brief overview of preparations for the third session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to be held from 9 to 13 November in Doha, Qatar. It describes States’ measures to prevent and combat corruption and ensure the prompt return of assets. It also gives an overview of international activities to tackle corruption and recover assets, including those of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), its joint Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative with the World Bank, as well as other UNODC individual efforts and in partnership with the private sector. Further, it discusses voluntary contributions to support UNODC activities to implement the Convention.
The report concludes that the greatest expectation of the Convention’s third session is reaching agreement on the terms of reference of the review mechanism for implementing the Convention. Asset recovery will continue to be a top priority, including for designing and implementing technical assistance activities.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on crime prevention and criminal justice (document A/64/99), which transmits to the General Assembly, pursuant to Assembly resolution 60/175, the report of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its fourth session, held in Vienna, from 8 to 17 October 2008 (CTOC/COP/2008/19).
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on science and technology for development (document A/64/168), which describes the activities of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development in agriculture, rural development, information and communications technologies, and environmental management, among others. It also gives an account of activities of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other relevant organizations to help developing countries integrate science, technology and innovation policies in their respective national development plans and strategies.
Introduction of Reports
ANNE MIROUX, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the Secretary-General’s report entitled “Science and Technology for Development” (document A/64/168), which describes the implementation of General Assembly resolution 562/201 that requested the Committee for Science and Technology for Development to assist with follow-up on the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Ms. Miroux then outlined some of the main initiatives of the last year, beginning with an UNCTAD meeting this January in Switzerland that dealt with enterprise development policies and capacity-building in science, technology and innovation. Participants discussed how innovation and entrepreneurship can help developing countries overcome the various challenges, such as climate change, energy and food security and how improving the level of productivity and competition in developing countries can help in the fight against poverty.
A 2009 report by UNCTAD on technology and innovation that investigated how science and technology could reverse declining agricultural productivity, especially in the least developed countries, was due out by the end of the year, she said. UNCTAD had undertaken Science, Technology and Innovation Policy reviews, the purpose of which was to support technological transformation and capacity-building and enterprise innovation in developing countries, and had completed reviews of Colombia, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Iran and Angola. Reviews of Ghana, Lesotho and Mauritania were underway. UNCTAD would also undertake a review of Iraq, as well as Peru, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.
She said that given the host of current global challenges, science, technology and innovation could and should play a critical role; already, it had lifted millions of people out of poverty by driving economic growth. Successful science, technology and innovation policies could also help a country achieve the Millennium Development Goals. To conclude, she said that, although much progress had been made in terms of science, technology and innovation, there was still much to be done, and she reaffirmed UNCTAD’s commitment to collaborate with United Nations entities, national Governments, development partners, the private sector and others to develop even greater gains from science, technology and innovation.
DIMITRI VLASSIS, Chief, Corruption and Economic Crime Section, Division for Treaty Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on preventing and combating corrupt practices and transfer of assets of illegal origin and returning such assets, in particular to the countries of origin, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (document A/64/122) and his note on crime prevention and criminal justice (document A/64/99), which transmits to the General Assembly, pursuant to Assembly resolution 60/175, the report of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its fourth session, held in Vienna, from 8 to 17 October 2008 (CTOC/COP/2008/19).
He said the first report addressed the status of the Convention and preparations for the third session of the Conference of States Parties, to be held in Doha from 9 to 13 November. It also gave an overview of States’ measures to implement the Convention and recover assets, as well as international action to end corruption and recover assets, under the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, among others. Since that report’s publication in July, there had been several developments. Since June, five more States had ratified the Convention, bringing the total number of States parties to 141. The Working Group for the Review of Implementation held three intersessional meetings and informal meetings since 2008.
At its last meeting, the Working Group completed the second reading of the draft terms of reference for the review mechanism, which was based on a consolidated version of the proposals received by 33 States, he said. Informal meetings this month would focus on forging consensus on pending issues as much as possible before the third session of the Conference. He then gave an account of initiatives in information-gathering, asset recovery, StAR Initiative and cumulative knowledge. The StAR Initiative was conducting policy studies on select asset recovery topics, such as: politically exposed people; the misuse of corporate vehicles, such as limited companies, trust or foundations for money-laundering purposes; financial centres; and the global architecture for asset recovery. Those findings would be presented during the Conference’s third session.
The StAR Initiative developed several practical guides and tools for asset recovery, particularly using modern information technology, he said. In May 2009, it published a good practice guide for non-conviction based asset forfeiture. StAR was also developing a practical, step-by-step manual for asset recovery, an asset and income declarations guide, and an expanded version of the UNODC Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool. He also highlighted initiatives in building confidence and trust and technical assistance. In the lead up to the third session of the Conference, States must continue to engage in constructive dialogue and make every possible effort to achieve consensus decisions, especially on the crucial issue of setting up a review mechanism.
AMAR DAOUD (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that globalization challenged growth and sustainable development, in particular for developing countries. While some countries have successfully adapted to globalization, many others, especially among the least developed countries, remained marginalized. Increasingly, the economic performance of developing countries was determined by factors beyond their control -- because of the globalization of markets, economic meltdowns in the developed world quickly spread to other markets. Such internationalization of crises highlighted the need for sound global governance and sound regulatory frameworks.
The United Nations system could help bolster developing countries to cope with the implications of globalization and should play a central role in promoting international cooperation for development, coordination and implementation of development goals. However, multilateral institutions and global governance needed to be reformed to ensure greater participation of developing countries in the decision-making process. In terms of access to technology, he said that it had become vital in a world economy based on knowledge, and he reiterated that easier access to science and technology would help developing countries advance in areas of agriculture, health, energy, trade, water and environmental protection.
Lack of progress with respect to the global partnership for development, especially regarding agreements on trade and investment, continued to hinder economic growth and obstructed the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, and development partners had not lived up to their commitments in terms of the Goals. It was important for development partners and the United Nations system to respond to the national development plans and strategies of the most vulnerable countries.
FREDRIKA ORNBRANT (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said her delegation was determined to take urgent, decisive steps to continue to combat corruption in all it forms in order to reduce obstacles to effective resource mobilization and allocation and to avoid the diversion of resources vital for development. She stressed the need to promote fundamental principles such as good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability to prevent corruption and transfer of assets of illicit origin. That required strong institutions at all levels, particularly effective legal and judicial systems, and enhanced transparency. She urged all States that had not ratified the Convention to consider doing so. The paramount challenge was to develop a robust mechanism to help States parties effectively implement the Convention.
More efforts were needed to ensure that a strong, effective mechanism would be adopted at the third session of the Conference of States Parties, she said. A successful review mechanism would give credibility to the United Nations, the Convention and States parties. She welcomed progress in asset recovery, particularly through StAR, the joint UNODC-World Bank initiative, and said the European Union would continue to support its further development.
Turning to science and development, she said projects and initiatives conducted by the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) and UNCTAD and their joint work were highly relevant. She supported efforts to bridge to digital divide, assist developing countries, conduct research and development, and promote access to and development of technologies and know-how. The European Union supported and promoted investment in national universities, and science and technology. Through the Africa- European Union Strategic Partnership, formed in December 2007, up to 63 million euros would be invested in research projects in 2010 to improve health conditions, and water and food security in Africa.
MOHAMAD OEMAR ( Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said globalization of trade and finance required global cooperation and well coordinated regulatory measures. However, solving multiple crises had implications beyond financial regulation. The United Nations was therefore indispensable in extending multilateralism and in shaping comprehensive measures in a globalizing world.
He went on to say that the world’s problems should not be sought in “piecemeal measures”, nor would any single country or group of countries be able to insulate themselves from the consequences of such problems. The continued disarray in the world economy was not caused by cyclical factors only, but reflected a much more fundamental flaw in the economic system itself. International structures and mechanisms of fair trade and technology transfer had led to developing countries’ marginalization in world development and international economic decision-making processes.
What was now required was the concerted action of all nations in fashioning a global approach towards solutions, new concepts, and improved structures, as well as “more equitable modalities and mechanisms”, he said. In that light, he cast strong support for the multilateral approaches of the United Nations to guide processes to reform and strengthen the effective functioning of the world’s economy and financial architecture.
“As with the middle class in individual countries”, he said, the middle income countries, which made up close to 40 per cent of the world’s gross product, were a “vital segment of the economy”. Those countries had experienced accelerated economic growth over the past two decades and had gained greater access to international private capital inflows, expanding their own trade flows. Those countries had “tremendous potential” for driving new growth, he said.
Turning to the establishment by ASEAN of a “vibrant and solid regional community”, he said that battling corruption was a long and arduous process fraught with challenges and obstacles, but reiterated that group’s resolve to devoting the necessary resources to the fight. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, ASEAN had been developing cooperation since 2004 in capacity-building, exchanging information and methods of eradicating corruption.
DONATUS ST. AIMEE (Saint Lucia), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that for the developing world, the benefits of globalization depended on tangible improvements in the quality of life and the increase of choices available to citizens, as well as the assurance of survival of vibrant civilizations. Developing countries had undoubtedly both enjoyed the benefits of globalization and had been disproportionately burdened by its drawbacks. The Caribbean, in particular, bore the brunt of problems not of its making, including climate change, illicit trade in small arms and narcotics, and crises in food, energy prices and finance.
He said that, among other challenges, trade-distorting subsidies and barriers and counterproductive regulations had made nascent local industries uncompetitive and had uprooted traditional agricultural livelihoods. The once vibrant banana industry was now in shambles by the effects of World Trade Organization decisions. Increasingly, globalization played as great a role as national policy in development of CARICOM member States, though globalization was not responsive to the needs of their small populations. He maintained that for globalization to become beneficial, it must be inclusive and allow for the needs and for the voice of developing countries; for that reason he endorsed the conclusions of the June United Nations conference on the financial crisis, calling for follow-up on its outcome.
He urged donor countries to refrain from reducing official development assistance in response to the crisis and stressed that countries such as his not be “graduated” prematurely to middle-income status. The countries in his region had found ways to mitigate challenges, but only for the short term and needed long-term assistance, including technology transfer, while they endeavoured to be “good, meaningful players” in international affairs. Welcoming initiatives to combat corruption and illicit activities in the region, he stressed that good governance should also apply to global systems and, in that context, he welcomed the upcoming Global Forum on Fighting Corruption to be held in Qatar.
MICHELE MARKOFF ( United States) said that cybersecurity was a critical issue for all Member States. In an increasingly interconnected world, networked information systems increasingly underpinned everyday life, commerce, research and the free flow of information, and the world’s reliance on those information infrastructures was only expected to grow. But, as the world became more dependent on such systems, the threats to them became more sophisticated and grave. The threats came from many sources -- most of them criminal in nature -- and Governments had to take a leadership role to ensure the security of cyberspace.
Cyberattacks posed economic and security threats, which could inflict damage on a massive and global scale, and consequently there had to be international collaboration on cyber security, she said. In that respect, the United States had undertaken a number of initiatives to enhance cybersecurity such as sponsoring resolutions that addressed the need to combat the criminal misuse of information technology. This year, the United States would co-sponsor a resolution on cybersecurity that would offer an assessment tool for Member States to better understand the current state of cybersecurity in their nation.
CHEN MING ( China), aligning his statement with that made by the Sudan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said corruption had become a “hazard of mankind” that threatened economic development and social stability. Transnational transfer of illicit assets provided an avenue for corrupt officials to evade legal punishment. The crime of corruption was getting increasingly organized and transnational, he said, making it more complicated and difficult to prevent. The international community must therefore join hands in forging effective mechanisms to combat corruption and seize illicit assets.
For its part, China had launched an anti-corruption website in December 2007, and had carried out a pilot project in 13 provinces and municipalities to explore means for prevention. Furthermore, he said China would engage more actively in international cooperation against corruption through information sharing, judicial assistance, capacity-building and other technical assistance activities. He went on to say that promoting development through science and technology was gaining ever more popular support, as it would help to eliminate poverty, reduce the spread of diseases, improve public health and quality of life, and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Among other relevant initiatives, he noted that China’s 2006 “Guidelines on National Medium- and Long-Term Program on Science and Technology” aimed to turn China into an “innovation-oriented” country by 2020.
However, although China’s economic aggregate now ranked third in the world, he said per capita gross domestic product was still behind those in more than 100 countries. China’s development was also uneven, with 254 million people living in poverty, and an additional $2 billion in investment was needed in poverty relief. With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals jut six years away, full play should be given to the leading role of science and technology in promoting development and addressing climate change, food and energy security, and other major global issues. He proposed that UNCTAD continue to take necessary measures to support and assist developing countries at the technical and policy dimensions for timely achievement of the Goals. Only when there was prosperity and harmony in the world, would there truly be human progress and development of civilization.
TARIQ KHADDAM ALFAYEZ ( Saudi Arabia) said the world’s economic and financial relations had become more complex as globalization had led to a situation in which something that substantially impacted developed countries’ markets also substantially and rapidly impacted the economies, and subsequently the development plans, of developing countries. Globalization, with its pros and cons, had become an inevitable phenomenon that must be addressed realistically and in a way to achieve maximum benefit. It must meet the challenges of developing countries caused by inadequate technological capabilities. Globalization meant eliminating geographic, cultural and social barriers, and it called for closer interaction between cultures and civilizations through faster and more sophisticated technology, communications and information.
Globalization also meant openness and recognition of others, he said. At the same time, it posed challenges and risks due to the pressure it exerted on countries’ economies and social fabric. To reduce globalization’s negative impacts, it was necessary to strengthen financial and international institutions so they could respond to crises and solve them, while still respecting the cultural aspects of communities. He called for international economic cooperation to build a new economic system that respected the legitimate interests of all Member States, fostered development and created new partnerships between developing and developed countries based on cooperation, justice, equality. That system should also respect the need for developing countries’ products to reach global markets and ensure that developing countries receive the requisite capacity-building support to compete globally and sustain economic development.
Mr. YONO ( Iraq) said fighting corruption was a major issue facing international organizations and the international community. Corruption was a major obstacle to sustainable development and societal advancement. It posed the same level of danger as terrorism. Appropriate measures had been taken to combat all levels of corruption. The most recent was the formation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. It illustrated the international community’s will to combat corruption. Iraq was doing its part to end corruption. Through its Constitution, it had created an independent, integral body to combat corruption. Further to its desire to ensure international cooperation the necessary assistance to lift the country out of its current situation, Iraq’s Government had signed the Global Compact and it had adhered to the Convention.
Last year, Iraq, in partnership with UNODC and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had held a conference in Baghdad in January. That even led to the signing of the Baghdad Declaration on Combating Corruption, he said. Iraq’s Government had launched an initiative to combat corruption, which it had inherited from the previous regime in power. It had taken steps to enhance oversight of the current administration. In order to promote investment in Iraq, UNODC and UNDP had worked with the Iraqi Government on a justice and integrity programme. That 5-year programme launched in September 2008 focused on accountability and transparency, which were integral to ending corruption. Iraq sought to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and fairness at all levels of operation in governmental bodies and a Government based on democracy.
JULIE TAKAHASHI ( Norway) said the issue of corruption and the recovery of stolen assets, which could only be effectively addressed through extensive international cooperation, were subjects of particular interest to her country, and a major problem for the international community in general. Every effort should be made to realize the objectives of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. “This is certainly not a convention to be signed and forgotten,” she said, and added that successful asset recovery work was also a way to demonstrate to the international community that justice stood on the side of the victims of corruption.
Illicit financial flows represented a major obstacle to development, and estimates showed that illicit financial flows out of developing countries are eight to ten times higher than all official development assistance going into developing countries every year. She reiterated that asset recovery –- a key part of Convention -- should be effectively implemented by Member States. It was important that States aided with due diligence and ensured that the principle of “know your customers” was effectively applied in the banking and financial sector.
GONZALEZ SEGURA ( Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that it was important for the General Assembly to maintain its support of the Convention against Corruption and to renew its call for countries to join it. Strategies for combating corruption should consider preventive and sanctioning measures that targeted the private sector. Further, asset recovery was and would continue to be a priority task that required Member States to invest energy, time and resources to foster mutual trust that would guarantee cooperation. Donor countries should help developing countries to promote the creation of the necessary professional and technical capacities in this field.
Next, he praised the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development with regard to agriculture and rural development, as well as UNCTAD for its support of project implementation. The situation for the poor in rural areas was of particular concern, and agricultural innovation was an important step towards poverty reduction, he continued, adding that it would be highly relevant to adopt technological innovation schemes that considered the concrete needs of the rural poor in developing countries so that they could be given appropriate solutions to their specific problems.
Concerning food security, he said that technological and scientific innovation also played a key role in increasing productivity and he called for the establishment of guidelines that ensured the transfer of technologies to developing countries, especially in terms of agriculture. To conclude, he expressed support for UNCTAD’s work on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy reviews.
MOHAMED ALAHRAF ( Libya) said globalization was seen by some as the best way to acquire skills, technology and assets, while others saw it as a tool to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. While globalization had many benefits, it failed to highlight the development dimension of many countries and to stabilize prices for many products, particularly commodities. All that affected the achievement of sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. Globalization’s benefits varied. Stronger international cooperation at all levels was needed to form a global foundation that ensured that everyone benefited and that developing countries were effective partners. He said it was also necessary to create a more just financial and trade system, particularly in the wake of the current financial crisis, to enable developing countries to restructure their economies and establish solid economic institutions.
It was necessary to recognize that privatization and open-market polices were not enough to enable developing countries to achieve their development goals, he said. Reform was required to give developing countries access to concessionary loans and to enable them to create national strategies for economic growth. Corruption was an obstacle to resource mobilization and democracy. Money-laundering and assets-smuggling were major obstacles to development. Developing countries were harmed greatly by those and other illegal practices. It was no longer acceptable to create safe havens for money-laundering and other crimes. Too many financial institutions and banks operated in a manner that made them above State control. It was necessary to eliminate safe havens that promoted corrupt practices. He called on the third session of the Conference to take the steps needed to implement the Convention. Turning to science and technology, he stressed its vital role in poverty eradication and environmental protection. He stressed the dire need to bridge the digital gap between developed and developing countries.
When the Committee met again this afternoon, KHALID MOHAMMED AL-KHATER ( Qatar) said globalization had many positive aspects but also negative consequences, among them a worsening of economic conditions for “southern” countries. While globalization spread information and knowledge across the globe, it also brought about a widening technology gap and increasing competition for resources among the world’s nations. While some countries had made considerable progress, others were held back, and it was therefore imperative to create an environment that would allow developing countries to benefit from new and emerging technologies. He called for increased regional and interregional cooperation on the issue of technology transfer.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, also speaking for Qatar, spoke on the issue of corruption, and said that it was a problem that loomed large over developed and developing countries alike. With the emergence of globalization and trade liberalization, corruption had grown to alarming proportions and become a serious threat to stability, security and the rule of law in many places. By undermining the credibility of political leaders, it weakened the very fabric of society, and Qatar supported all international efforts to tackle the problem in an effective and comprehensive way. Among other things, the Government was enacting laws in line with international instruments to prevent illegal funds from reaching the national economy, and Qatar was also cooperating with various stakeholders of the international community to follow up on implementation of the Convention against Corruption.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said corruption was widespread and transnational in nature. It was not just about mafias and regional groups; it was an international web comprising people from the financial sector, the military, Government and the private sector. It was closely linked to arms and drugs trafficking, money-laundering and different perverse forms of international power. It was linked to capitalist values based on individuals and behaviour in which the ends justified the means. It was about transferring capital from the public to the private sector. The political arena, business sector and trade unions had corrupt power structures.
He said all that made it difficult to achieve sustained development. Regulations were needed for the public and private sector to combat this. He said he supported the Convention. All Member States should cooperate with the support of individuals, non-governmental organizations and other organizations.
To fight corruption, he said, it was necessary to create strict legal controls to regulate the transfer of assets of illicit origin, which threatened the stability of nations. It was necessary to work together on preventive measures and information exchange, and to spread awareness about knowledge of existing legal frameworks to combat corruption.
Turning to the issue of science and technology, he asked whether it was being used to preserve and build life or just to accumulate capital. The international community could not ignore the moral obligations of scientific and technological research. Productivity in the world had increased, but so had stress. People everyone had to work longer hours. Increased productivity had not led to world peace and solidarity nor had it benefited mankind collectively. Developing countries must be part of the digital revolution. The United Nations must play an essential role in promoting synergies so that countries could made efforts to reduce the digital and technical divide.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) said that counter-cyclical policies were necessary to counter the negative effects of the financial and economic crisis, and that developing countries should be allowed policy space so that they would be better able to implement development strategies according to their national priorities. Strengthening the United Nations system to make it more inclusive of developing countries would be extremely important, and better coordination with multilateral financial, trade and development institutions was called for.
With regard to corruption, he said that 140 countries had already signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption and he encouraged those who had not yet signed to do so. Developed countries had to step up their collaboration with financial institutions to uncover transactions that involved illegally acquired funds and to arrange for their return. Concerning science, technology and innovation, he recognized the work by UNCTAD on the subject and said the development of agriculture technology, especially in more vulnerable areas within the developing countries, would be particularly useful at this moment, as Member States sought to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis. Finally, he reiterated the importance of developing infrastructure, and narrowing the gap between the developing and the developed countries in access to technology and communications solutions.
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