We’re talking about US $40 billion

Today, one day ahead of the Conference of States Parties, civil society is meeting to prepare with representatives present coming from East-Timor and Cambodia, to Argentina and the US.

The preparations included discussions with the UN representative of the UNCAC secretariat, Elsa Gopala Krishnan, as well as government representatives. Lilian Ekeanyanwu of the Government of Nigeria gave a quick insight into the discussion taking place among the states party to the UNCAC.

Two issues I’d like to highlight:

1) I think it is fundamental that we make clear what the effects of the corruption are.
One important number to keep in mind throughout the following days is US$ 40 billion. According to Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister:

“There’s an estimate that $20-$40 billion a year, in terms of corruptly stolen assets, leaves developing countries to go to developed countries each year.”

With effective legislation within the framework of the UN Convention in place, this money would not be lost.

2) The key aspect to remember is that the success of the negotiations is not only important for the anti-corruption movement, but also for companies concerned with running efficient operations and organisations fighting for issues from climate change to human rights. This is shown by the variety of organisations that signed the civil society statement. This has also been highlighted by Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International at the sixth Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, that is taking place prior to the Conference of States Parties where she addressed the leaders on the role of civil society and global public-private partnerships.

As my colleague Craig Fagan points out in his post on the convention:

“Partnership and collaboration reaches to the root of why conventions are needed on overseeing global issues such as corruption.”

Once again to use the words of Anthea Lawson, a campaigner at anti-corruption group Global Witness, who said in the Observer today:

“Uncac needs a review mechanism that involves consultation of civil society, country visits, and full publication of the reports. Without this, it’ll be a system where countries can peer review each other without external oversight, which effectively means governments will be able to scratch each others’ backs and the public will be no wiser about whether they are really fulfilling their commitments to tackle corruption.”

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