Fourth Conference of the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network

14 Apr 2013

 

Speech by

Mr. Robert WATKINS

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Lebanon

 

on the occasion of the:

 

Fourth Conference of the

Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network

"Reconciling Hopes with Realities in the Fight against Corruption: Paving the Way for Innovation"

 

Beirut, Republic of Lebanon

14-16 April 2013

 

 

Excellency the Prime Minister of Lebanon;

Excellencies and Honorable officials of Arab countries and partner countries;

Ladies and gentlemen;

 

It is both a pleasure and an honor for me to be present among you at the opening of the Fourth Conference of the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network.

 

I would first like to express my gratitude to H.E the Prime Minister for his patronage of this important regional forum and to thank you all for joining us to discuss one of the major challenges that impacts many countries in the region and identify ways to confront it. In our gathering, we recognize that corruption is a perpetual threat to development, security and human dignity and renew our commitment to fight it.

 

The Asian Development Bank for example estimates that corruption can cost up to 17% of a country’s GDP. The impact of corruption however is greater than just the diversion of resources. It is also corrosive of societies, and contributes to the erosion of trust and confidence in governments.

 

We at UNDP are glad to support the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network, which has become since its establishment in 2008, the region’s leading multi-stakeholder mechanism for cooperation against corruption.

 

UNDP’s work on this topic began almost three decades ago with efforts to promote accountability, transparency and integrity. Since then we have come a long way thanks to the support of partners across the world and in the UN family.

 

As you know, our interest in fighting corruption is primarily driven by our mandate to reduce poverty and promote human development. Our work is anchored in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which is the first and only global legal instrument that deals with preventing and combating corruption in a comprehensive manner. More than 165 countries have committed themselves to implementing the Convention, whose Review Mechanism offers a unique opportunity for countries to identify gaps in their national anti-corruption frameworks and related technical assistance needs.

 

UNDP’s anti-corruption activities have developed significantly in many Country Offices in the Arab region in the past few years, especially in Tunisia and Egypt. In Lebanon, UNDP Developed a national Strategy to combat corruption in close coordination with Government, parliament, Civil Society Organizations and Media. Sectoral anti-corruption studies are also being developed in the Parliament for Health, Education and Water sectors.

 

Our UNDP Regional Project on Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries presents an effective framework for regional anti-corruption cooperation. It works with most of the Arab countries while dedicating attention to 7 of them, its signatories Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen.

 

We also have a dedicated global programme “PACDE” which has worked with many of you.

 

Through these three levels: the country level, the regional level and the global level, UNDP focuses on developing national capacities, promoting south-south cooperation and helping to make sure that anti-corruption reforms are more effective, more enduring and closely linked to the development agenda.

 

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In this difficult transitional time in many Arab countries, it is our responsibility to join hands in supporting transparent and accountable government institutions. As you all know, corruption was cited as a primary cause for uprisings in many Arab countries and fighting corruption is a priority demand on the agenda of these countries in transition. 

 

Governments have a major role to play in this regard through ensuring proper legislation, exercising oversight and maintaining a commitment to democratic governance. Indeed, fighting corruption is about making sure that laws are properly legislated and fairly implemented.

 

Civil Society Organizations, Private Sector and the media also have important roles to play. Sound and effective cooperation between all these actors is critical to achieving success.

 

In these recent few years, however, we are witnessing unprecedented levels of commitment to the anti-corruption agenda both at the global and regional levels, with 17 Arab countries committed to the implementation of the UNCAC and 15 Arab countries actively engaged in the work of the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network.

 

This conference is an excellent learning opportunity and exchange of knowledge and experiences among Arab Countries and is also a good opportunity to reduce the gap between the hopes and expectations of the peoples of the region and the actual levels of achievement in controlling corruption. I join you in calling for the development of more innovative and practical anti-corruption measures.

 

I reiterate my thanks to the government of Lebanon and to the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network that brought us all together and express appreciation for Morocco’s leadership of this Network during the last 2 years while extending UNDP’s support and best wishes to Lebanon as it prepares to assume this role in the next 2 years.

 

Finally, I wish you success in this important Conference.