Statement by H.E. Ambassador Philip Sealy

Permanent Representative of the Republic of Trinidad and

Tobago to the United Nations, New York.

Head of the Trinidad and Tobago Delegation to the

High-level Political Conference for the Signing of the United

Nations Convention against Corruption.

Merida, Mexico, 9th to 11th December 2003.


Thank you, Mr. President.


Mr. President,


The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to be joining other members of the international community at this High-level Political Conference for the signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption which was adopted without a vote by the U.N General Assembly during its current 58th session on 31 st October, 2003.


The adoption, without dissent, of this international convention demonstrates unequivocally the importance which UN member states attach to preventing and combating the scourge of corruption which, in the words of U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan, "hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development , undermining a government's ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign investment and aid." Corruption also poses a threat to the rule of law, to institutions of democratic governance of the State, to the moral fabric of societies, and to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms by all citizens equally.


It is for reasons such as these that the prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption remain a major objective of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago which is pursuing a policy of zero tolerance in respect of crime at all levels.


It is my Government's view that everyone shares the responsibility to fight crime and that that responsibility must extend to all forms of criminal conduct. The international community is therefore rightly justified in being vigilant about those public officials who, for example, defraud the State through the largesse of enormous contracts, or who grant contracts to their close associates or those who accept pay-offs, as well as those officials in the private sector who seek personal enrichment through irregular reporting and accounting activities.


This new international legal instrument contains a number of key provisions which deal, inter alia, with a wide range of preventive anti-corruption strategies such as the establishment of anti-corruption bodies, codes of conduct for public officials, stricter public procurement and public finance management requirements, measures to prevent


We also recognize the important role which civil society, community-based organizations and NGOs can play within national societies in fighting the scourge of corruption and believe that the measures set out in the Convention for strengthening their participation can contribute to the goal of eradicating corruption.


Mr. President, we must bear in mind that becoming a State Party to the Convention, and even ensuring the adoption of the necessary implementing legislation at the national level, are not in and of themselves adequate to address the problem of corruption. Governments must demonstrate the necessary political will to tackle effectively corruption in all its forms and manifestations.


In concluding, Mr. President, the delegation of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago would wish to pay tribute to the late Ambassador Hector Charry Semper of Colombia who so ably led the work of the Ad hoc Committee for the negotiation of this Convention until his untimely passing away earlier this year. His sterling efforts will not be forgotten by those of us gathered here in Merida to sign this Convention which will make a qualitative difference in the lives of millions of peoples the world over.

Finally, Mr. President, my delegation would wish to thank the Government of Mexico for its hospitality and for all the courtesies extended to us during our stay in this beautiful, historic and unique part of the Yucatan peninsula with its millennial Mayan civilization.


I thank you, Mr. President.