Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me, on behalf of the Republic of South Africa, to congratulate you on your appointment as President of the 7th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. You can count on the support from the South African delegation.
The South African delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, respectively. We also want to register our appreciation to the Secretariat for the excellent preparations for this Conference.
It is well known that corruption has a negative impact on development and service delivery, undermining good governance and the rule of law to the detriment of economic growth. It also serves as an enabler for other forms of organized crime.
We are pleased that 183 States have ratified the Convention since its adoption in 2003. This is indeed an affirmation of the international community’s commitment to collectively fight corruption.
The first review cycle has been a positive learning experience for South Africa and I believe for all of us. This process has significantly assisted reviewed States Parties to strengthen their domestic measures to prevent, detect and fight corruption, including fostering international cooperation.
At the national level, the South African anti-corruption position was set by the drafting of Government’s Anti-Corruption Framework in 2001 through which the country has committed to align itself with its international obligations. The country has a comprehensive legislative framework against which to prosecute a wide range of activities defined as corrupt, including a dedicated act on bribery and other forms of corruption. The South African Government adopted the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA), 2004 (Act No. 12 of 2004) to combat corruption. It criminalizes corruption and defines corruption in a way that accords with the common understanding of the term, bribery.
The Government’s commitment to deal decisively with corruption is articulated in the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014–2019 (MTSF), the National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Security Strategy (NSS). In June 2014, President Jacob Zuma established an Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee (ACIMC) to coordinate anti-corruption responsibilities and structures. The ACIMC has concretised the role of the multi-agency Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) as the central body mandated to give effect to Government’s anti-corruption agenda. Through the ACIMC and ACTT Executive Committee, a collective of government stakeholders is implementing the Government anti-corruption agenda.
Currently, the South African Government is working on reviewing its Anti-corruption Strategy and Action Plan to strengthen the implementation and operationalization of anti-corruption laws and institutions, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, in order to improve its implementation of the Convention. The development of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy commenced in 2016. The discussion document was launched in May 2017, to initiate a public consultation process on the development of the strategy in this regard.
Furthermore, the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act (Act 1 of 2017) was signed into law to strengthen the anti-money laundering regime in South Africa. This is done by requiring financial entities to better manage their relationships with foreign Prominent Public Officials and domestic Prominent Influential Persons; and assisting with freezing of assets for those identified by the UN Security Council as involved in terrorism, to mention only a few.
To complement the above, the Protected Disclosures Amendment Act, 2017 (Act 5 of 2017) was enacted to create an offence for the disclosure of false information.
One of the prominent issues that this conference has been grappling with is the issue of asset recovery. As you are aware, asset recovery is one of the fundamental pillars of the Convention. The Convention enjoins us to work together to ensure that illicitly acquired assets are returned to countries of origin.
Despite the commitments made by States Parties, particularly to promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of, and fight against, corruption, we are concerned that some countries have developed parallel platforms outside the United Nations. In our view, the ever growing parallel processes demonstrate of the lack of political will by some countries to effectively address the return of proceeds of corruption to countries of origin.
In this regard, South Africa is pleased to welcome the draft resolution presented by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group to enhance international cooperation on asset recovery. We encourage all States Parties to engage in constructive dialogue to this noble initiative.
With regard to the second review cycle, we must consolidate and build on the gains achieved in the first cycle in addressing the challenges encountered. These include amongst others, encouraging non-responsive States Parties to fully cooperate in the implementation of the review process and upon request, extend technical assistance to those in need.
While we acknowledge the limited financial resources to fulfil the requirements of the review mechanism, South Africa believes that the core activities of this mechanism should continue to be funded from the regular budget. This will ensure sustainability, predictability and objectivity of the review mechanism.
In conclusion Madam President, South Africa looks forward to international cooperation within the context of mutual legal assistance as well as in civil and administrative proceedings for the detection of offences.
Therefore, as a Party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (Trans-national Organised Crime), South Africa has obligations to cooperate with other Member States and institutions such as the International Police (Interpol), the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO), and its formal police-to-police cooperation agreements. It is for this reason that South Africa is able to comply with the majority of requests for international cooperation.
South Africa wishes all delegates a successful conference.
I thank you!