Global Forum IV on fighting corruption and safeguarding integrity

Minister of Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi’s closing remarks

10 June 2006

Good day Chairperson of the Forum
Forum officials
Other participants

First let me thank all of you for your contributions during this event, without your skills and talents, this event could not have been the success it is. On behalf of my government, I thank the Government of Brazil for hosting this fourth Global Forum on fighting corruption and safeguarding integrity. I am also grateful for the opportunity to address you at the closure of what has certainly been a series of inspiring and enlightening meetings. The reason this is of particular significance to us is because South Africa has officially agreed to host the fifth Global Forum of this nature in 2007.

I am thus placed in the privileged position of not just playing midwife, but of planting the actual seedling that I trust will emerge as a successful Global Forum five. In this vein, I take the opportunity to whet your appetite with a possible menu for the next Global Forum. Given that the theme for this Global Forum was “From Words to Deeds” we might consider taking the same ideas to another level by looking at the actual implementation of some of the initiatives that have been mentioned or inspired by this Global Forum. A possible theme is “From Action to Results.” (Minister: we can re-visit this part based on what pans out at the meetings)

It is very significant for us that the next Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity will be held in Africa. We all know that corruption is the inescapable companion to other conditions, for example, a legacy of ruthless exploitation, the vulnerability occasioned by war and conflict, anarchy and failed administration, poverty and underdevelopment. In recent years, there has been much inter-sectoral policy dialogue around corruption and related issues that affect our continent. What has emerged from these engagements is briefly, that some of the corruption trends that pose a threat to African countries, mainly because of the lack of capacity and infrastructure to detect, investigate and prosecute include:

* poor or unstable public administration
* the concealment of illicit assets through networks of shell companies and off-shore banks located outside the country of origin
* tax evasion, which reduces a government’s revenue base and capacity to deliver basic services
* private sector corruption, particularly involving multi-national companies
* disregard for protection of whistleblowers and witnesses
* cyber crimes related to acts of corruption.

The United Nations (UN) Convention against Corruption, inter alia, promises a major boost to the lonely and unrewarded efforts of developing nations to repatriate looted funds and in so doing, to curb widespread corruption. By addressing money laundering and the return of illicit funds to the countries of origin, this situation can be contained and addressed. However, although the Convention is a step in the right direction for most African countries whose wealth fills the vaults of banks in several world cities while their citizens experience abject poverty, it will be of little value unless it is accepted by an overwhelming majority and effectively implemented over the years to come. In this regard I must especially commend the nations of the developing world that have expressed their commitment to implement the Convention by ratifying it. It is hoped that by the time we all meet at the next Global Forum, the Convention will be in force, and we will be able to examine some of the work of the Conference of the Parties. In light of this aspiration, we might also take the opportunity at the next meeting, to re-examine the role of this particular Global Forum.

We might also question ourselves as to the need for a biennial Global Forum. This begs the question: Why has corruption, and its impact, appeared to have changed so much in recent times? Corruption is a fluid and organic crime it has evolved, as cause and consequence of changes in the way modern societies function and interact. Criminals engaged in corruption have turned contemporary public goods for example, the globalisation of activity, market deregulation, privatisation, hi-tech communications and rapid transportation systems into public “bads”. It is for this reason that the global community can not remain passive in the face of these developments.

The role of the private sector in the fight against corruption has been raised. In many developing countries, small “facilitation” payments do not constitute payments that are frowned upon, or even prosecuted as an offence of corruption. Even though they are generally illegal in the foreign country concerned, it is regarded as the only way to conduct business. However, I would argue that business has a choice in respect of where and how it trades. The profile of integrity has been raised in the way business is conducted.

There is no longer the sole focus on a company’s bottom line, as many companies are now vying to comply with the requirements of a social responsibility index. Shareholders are better informed today than they were a decade ago. A number of factors, including corruption scandals of international magnitude, have contributed to the increasing vigilance of shareholders. It is therefore imperative that any awareness-raising effort must bear in mind the influence of shareholders insofar as the conduct of a company, especially one doing business in the developing world, is concerned. At the next Global Forum, we would like to examine the impact of such initiatives.

I am very pleased to underscore that the UN Convention against Corruption makes explicit provision for technical assistance, training and collection, exchange and analysis of information. Technical assistance must be made available, especially to developing and less developed countries, if they are to use this opportunity well. Open dialogue surrounding the concerns of developing countries must be encouraged, in particular through the mechanisms that deal with implementation of the Convention.

The current surveys on corruption globally and regionally, are of some concern to us because they are perception-based or their methodologies do not stand up under scrutiny. The issue has received much attention during the course of this week. At the Fifth Global Forum we would like to re-visit this area by looking at whether we do have effective tools to measure corruption, the need to define new methodologies that will assist us with at least baseline information, and by agreeing on certain indicators that we can use to assess the impact of our efforts.

In this spirit of global co-operation, Global Forum IV on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity has provided for us all a platform to share our experiences with other regions of the world about the initiatives being undertaken. The work that we will do to implement the recommendations of this Forum and to prepare for the next one would help to define us as truly partners for all seasons.

Recent DNA studies have revealed that we all have our roots in Africa. This Global Forum’s journey has passed through other continents and will now come to the origins of humanity. Progress and prosperity have to return to Africa. It is time to strengthen Africa’s capacity in its efforts to combat crime, violence and corruption and to recognise the progress that many African States have already made on these fronts. I do believe that the next Global Forum will be a stride in this direction. It is my honour to invite you all to South Africa in 2007 for the next Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, and I look forward to working with you through our next meetings. I would also like to extend final thank you for granting South Africa the privilege of playing host to the next Global Forum.

I thank you for your attention.

Issued by: Department of Public Service and Administration
10 June 2006