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Three ways UNGASS 2021 can create a pathbreaking legacy in addressing grand corruption

Delia Ferreira Rubio calls on national leaders to accelerate global anti-corruption efforts by focusing on grand corruption

Photo by ReginaPivetta on Shutterstock

Delia Ferreira Rubio

Chair, Transparency International

Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International has addressed the first intersessional meeting of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on preparations for the special session of the General Assembly against Corruption (UNGASS 2021), held in Vienna, Austria on 2-4 September 2020. The thematic focus of the first intersessional meeting was prevention, criminalisation and law enforcement.

Watch her video statement or read the full speech below.

Delia Ferreira Rubio's video statement at the UNGASS 2021 intersessional

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This year marks fifteen years since the UN Convention against Corruption entered into force. While we have seen progress, in far too many places around the world, corruption continues to hold back development and deprive people of their rights. Given the extraordinary challenges the world faces today – particularly as the COVID-19 crisis has come on top of the climate crisis – there is no time to waste.

We commend UN Member States for deciding to hold a Special Session against Corruption to move the global anti-corruption agenda forward from where it stood 15-20 years ago. The UNGASS 2021 offers great promise but also bears a heavy responsibility. The entire world will be scrutinising the political declaration the UN membership will adopt next year and the concrete steps the international community will take.

Can the UN provide a forum for achieving real advances in anti-corruption or will there be only empty words? Can today’s generation of national leaders be ambitious in these troubled times? We urge you to set your sights high.
Delia Ferreira Rubio Chair, Transparency International

At this pivotal moment, Transparency International calls on national leaders to address grand corruption as a top priority.

We urge the UN membership to prioritise three reform areas to ensure that UNGASS 2021 creates a pathbreaking legacy in addressing grand corruption.

First, and most importantly, justice instead of impunity: Grand corruption also often means that the justice system is unable or unwilling to hold the powerful to account. Major offenders have the upper hand and can act with impunity under the current international framework. Addressing grand corruption calls for a new international enforcement infrastructure and new national measures.

Second, the enablers: Grand corruption schemes stretch across borders as perpetrators avail themselves of anonymous shell companies and financial and non-financial professional enablers. We urge the UNGASS 2021 to endorse public registers of beneficial ownership as a global standard.

Finally, political integrity: A range of preventive measures should be considered to infuse integrity at the top of our political systems. Among other things, the UN membership should commit to curbing opaque and uneven political financing and to redefining the terms of corporate political engagement, across the board.

To that end, Transparency International urges the UNGASS 2021 to establish a task force to propose new commitments and mechanisms to be covered in a protocol to the UNCAC or another agreement.

The achievement of the 2030 Agenda depends on the UNGASS 2021 accelerating global anti-corruption efforts and driving the change people desperately need.
Delia Ferreira Rubio Chair, Transparency International

Sustainable change in the fight against corruption will only be achieved if the international community makes headway in disrupting the systems and networks that enable the corrupt to pay bribes, embezzle funds, launder money and enjoy their ill-gotten gains.