Chairman, distinguished delegates, I would like to thank the Republic of Panama for the warm hospitality it has shown to the delegations gathered here for this Fifth Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption. I would also like to thank President Martinelli for his inspiring words this morning, and I congratulate Panama on assuming the Presidency of the Conference.
In two weeks we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention against Corruption. Much has been accomplished, even since this Conference last met in Marrakech in 2011:
But there is more we can do. As we reflect on our accomplishments and celebrate the UNCAC’s 10th anniversary, let us also seize the opportunity we have here to build upon past progress and further our primary goal of implementing the Convention.
The Review Mechanism
The Review Mechanism has been a key focus of our endeavors over the past several years. The country reviews have promoted domestic coordination, provided information about our respective and collective implementation efforts, and helped identify potential areas for technical assistance. Nevertheless, as we approach the second round of reviews, it is critical to assess how we can improve the Mechanism in light of our experiences in the first round. While the second review cycle will not be launched until the Conference of States Parties in 2015, we look forward to a dialogue this week about possible ways to strengthen the Mechanism:
As interest in asset recovery continues to increase, the Asset Recovery Working Group has proven to be a valuable venue for the exchange of good practices and for building trust. Drawing on that forum and work by initiatives such as the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery, the Lausanne Process, and Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), the United States is introducing a resolution that highlights areas where we think we can do more.
The resolution’s goals include:
We can surmount barriers to asset recovery by undertaking proactive tracing searches in certain circumstances. We can recommit to supporting capacity building that is tailored and practice-based. As we each have different legal frameworks, we should make information about our respective asset recovery laws and procedures widely available, as through the practical guides the United States, the G8, and now the G20 are making available.
We should look for ways to make our legal frameworks more effective – such as by examining the benefits of approaches like non-conviction-based forfeiture.
Furthermore, the Asset Recovery Working Group should continue its good work and be tasked to provide recommendations regarding the scope of the Chapter V articles to be reviewed in the second cycle.
Prevention also deserves our attention. The Prevention Chapter is rich, covering a broad array of topics and practices. We have identified some excellent ideas for implementation during our discussions in the Prevention Working Group. We should ensure the Conference continues these expert exchanges, while at the same time tasking the experts to consider how we may most effectively review the broad technical range of this chapter during the second round.
I also want to stress the important role of civil society in preventing and combating corruption, including by raising public awareness and helping keep governments accountable –the foundation of Article 13 of the Convention. This Conference always anticipated that civil society would play a contributing role in the important deliberations of this body and the various Working Groups and subsidiary bodies. All States Parties should pledge to embrace this supporting role.
Finally, we still need to find ways to maximize efficiency and synergies in international cooperation. We continue to believe that we should discuss international cooperation via UNCAC through the ongoing work of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime’s Working Group on International Cooperation, particularly given that the international cooperation provisions in these conventions are almost identical.
In conclusion, the United States believes that our collective efforts over the past several years have been fruitful in advancing our ultimate goal of implementing the Convention and that even more can be accomplished working in partnership. We look forward to working together over the course of this week and beyond to find ways to improve the effectiveness of our collective efforts.