Mr Luke Arnold
Director, Law and Justice Section, Governance Fragility & Water Branch, Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Seventh Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption
7 November 2017
Around the world, governments, citizens and businesses are ever more aware of how seriously corruption hinders countries from reaching their full potential. It hinders long-term economic development. It undermines human development. It weakens law enforcement. And it ruins trust in government.
But the flipside of such hindrances is the immense potential countries can unlock – and the whole world could unlock – if we can get a grip on eliminating corruption.
As the cornerstone of international cooperation to fight corruption, the UN Convention Against Corruption is indispensable to achieving this aim.
UNCAC enshrines a comprehensive set of global obligations and standards on corruption prevention, criminalisation and law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery.
Its focus on function over form helps guide States Parties to develop effective legislation and institutions to combat corruption and to facilitate effective international anti-corruption cooperation.
Australia recognises that minimising corruption in the future needs investment in fighting corruption now. So we are making some major financial contributions to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and to the UN Development Programme to help them work with UNCAC States Parties to counter corruption.
These commitments total more than $20 million over four years and make Australia one of the world’s largest anti-corruption donors.
In the Pacific, Southeast Asia and South Asia – where most of Australia’s anti-corruption investments focus – the UN’s excellent programs have:
- helped countries prepare to ratify UNCAC;
- brokered anti-corruption coalitions across the range of government and non-government actors;
- helped existing UNCAC States Parties complete reviews of their anti-corruption regimes;
- and supported governments and other stakeholders to plan, prioritise and progress UNCAC‑related reforms.
Within our region, Australia has welcomed increased ratification of UNCAC by our neighbouring Pacific Island countries, and the deep engagement of their governments and citizens in UNCAC’s Implementation Review Mechanism.
For Indo-Pacific countries, this mechanism has been able to identify pressing areas where better implementation of UNCAC obligations is needed.
Australia is committed to an efficient and effective peer review mechanism to help countries get the most out of UNCAC.
So we welcome participation this year in our second cycle review under the Convention, which is being conducted by Iceland and Pakistan.
Beyond our support for UNCAC, Australia also actively participates in several international forums that help combat corruption.
- the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group
- the Financial Action Taskforce
- the OECD Working Group on Bribery
- and the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts’ Working Group.
And at home, we keep working to strengthen our domestic regimes to combat corruption.
As Australia continues to look for opportunities to strengthen our own anti-corruption regimes and assist partners in strengthening theirs, we recognise that government acting alone can never be wholly successful in combating corruption, and that it is vital for governments work together with broad coalitions to effectively tackle these crimes.
In practice, this means: stronger engagement between national and international institutions and the private sector to build industry-led anti-corruption initiatives; greater practical collaboration among UN agencies, multilateral and international organisations, and local anti-corruption actors; and broader inclusion of non-government stakeholders, including civil society groups, in relevant domestic and international policy forums.
Australia considers civil society groups to be an essential part of the fight against corruption – both locally and internationally.
Civil society groups, faith-based organisations, the media, and other stakeholders play key roles in: gathering information on the incidence of corruption; promoting awareness among constituencies; engendering support for new laws and public processes; and checking that anti-corruption policies are being implemented.
For this reason, Australia is providing an additional $7 million over four years to support Transparency International help communities fight corruption and expand transparency in the Indo-Pacific region.
Australia encourages all UNCAC States Parties to increase engagement and cooperation with civil society groups – and other non-government actors – committed to defeating corruption.