Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune : The Office of the Contractor General’s Inaugural Fraud and Anti-Corruption ConferenceMar 9, 2015
Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune
Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Jamaica
The Office of the Contractor General’s Inaugural Fraud and Anti-Corruption Conference
Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston
9 March 2015 at 2:00 pm
· His Excellency, the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen
· Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller, Prime Minister
· Our host, Contractor General, Mr. Dirk Harrison
· High Commissioners:
- Mr. Robert Ready from Canada
- Mr. David Fitton from the United Kingdom
- Mr Luis Moreno from the United States
- Ms Paolo Amadei from the European Union Delegation in Jamaica
· Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones, Country Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank,
· Ms. Catherine Trujillo, Actg. Deputy Inspector General with the USAID’s Office of Inspector General
· Our Chair, Ms. Karlene Knight
· Ladies and Gentlemen and Boys and Girls
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in Jamaica, I wish to congratulate the Office of the Contractor General on this conference on fraud and anti-corruption, and also thank you for inviting the UNDP to participate in this event.
United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has declared that “Corruption is a threat to development, democracy and stability.”
As an organisation focused on sustainable development, UNDP is therefore concerned about the threats corruption poses to a country’s social, political and economic development. By threatening development, corruption is a threat to all members of society –men and women, rich and poor, old and young.
Corruption leads to the violation of a government’s human rights obligation “to take steps… to the maximum of its available resources, to achieving progressively the full realization of economic social and cultural rights” as articulated in the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights.
The corrupt management of public resources compromises the government’s ability to deliver an array of services - including health, educational and welfare services - essential for the realization of these rights. And it is the poorest and most vulnerable groups and individuals who suffer disproportionately from the consequences of corruption, because they are particularly dependent on these public goods and services.
Corruption in the rule-of-law system compromises the right to equality before the law and the right to a fair trial. It undermines disadvantaged groups’ access to justice. In this way, corruption weakens the very accountability structures responsible for protecting legal and human rights in a country.
The impressive and extensive line up of speakers and the variety of topics to be explored around the issues of fraud and corruption at this conference, point to a clear understanding by the OCG of the depth and breadth of the challenges posed by corruption globally.
In fact, a global recognition of the far reaching impact of corruption is very likely what has led to the almost universal adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) by State Parties. The UNCAC, which entered into force in 2005, is the first global agreement on measures against corruption, which legally binds State Parties on an equal footing, to implement the convention.
The Convention is a global standard for fighting corruption and mitigating the risk of corruption. It has a comprehensive collection of measures and approaches to prevent and combat corruption. And I am pleased to say that Jamaica is a party to the UNCAC, having ratified it in 2008.
The UNCAC identifies five key areas of focus for States Parties:
The first is Prevention. While recognising that it is possible to prosecute corruption after it happens, the Convention has a focus on corruption prevention, which outlines measures directed at both the public and the private sectors. It also calls on civil society to play a role in preventing corruption and in raising awareness about the problem.
The second area of focus is Criminalization. The Convention calls on State Parties to take action to ensure that there are laws to address the wide range of acts which come under corruption.
Thirdly, State Parties are called on to cooperate with each other in the fight against corruption and to facilitate international cooperation in this area.
Fourthly, Asset Recovery is stated as a fundamental principle of the Convention. Article 51 provides for the return of stolen assets to countries of origin as a key principle of this Convention.
The fifth area of focus of the UNCAC is Technical Assistance and Information Exchange, which encourages State Parties to support capacity building of personnel who are tasked with fighting corruption and facilitate the collection, exchange and analysis of information on corruption.
I am pleased to note that UNDP ranked no. 1 two years in a row (2013 and 2014) in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). Thus as the most transparent Organization in managing international aid, UNDP has worked with local NGOs in building civil society capacity to promote transparency and accountability in the public sector. Currently, UNDP is working alongside the Government of Jamaica on issues of governance, access to justice, and citizen’s participation. These are all areas from which the fight against corruption can be launched.
UNDP was pleased, through its Parish Safety Project, to pilot the use of the Women’s Safety Audit. This Audit is a participatory tool developed by UNDP to document the level of engagement of women in local governance and on the adequacy and quality of service delivery. This tool is part of a larger initiative of UNDP to promote the development of systems and tools to increase transparency and accountability, and to mainstream corruption prevention into other areas.
The UN-led Post-2015 National Consultations in 2013 and 2014 pointed to high level of inequalities in the country backed up by significant weaknesses linked to corruption. In order to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals under Vision 2030, it is critical that the country addresses the issues of corruption, as it can truly hamper and undermine its development efforts.
UNDP recognizes the Government’s commitments to anti-corruption, through the ratification of the UNCAC. Jamaica has also published the Executive Summary for the implementation review mechanism for Chapters 3 and 4 of the Convention on law Enforcement and internal cooperation. The next review cycle to assess how countries are implementing prevention measures will begin in 2016. The process will be long and involving. Therefore, UNDP, UNODC and our sister UN Agencies can assist Jamaica in doing a voluntary self-assessment to determine gaps and successes, while proposing strategies and initiating amendments and actions before the actual review. This self-assessment, if done early, should position Jamaica well before the international community. The results and recommendations coming out of the self-assessment may also facilitate the drafting of a National Corruption Prevention Strategy.
We stand ready, alongside our sister UN agencies to assist the Government in further implementing the UNCAC, especially in the areas of prevention and the facilitation of regional cooperation on anti-corruption, through the utilization of our tools, systems and regional network of experts and practitioners in this area.
We look forward to rich discussions and deliberations and serious learning during this conference, and congratulate once again the Office of the Contractor General on its vision and hard work which made this event a reality. We stand committed to support the Government of Jamaica in improving transparency and accountability at all levels, and promoting the elimination of corruption, as we work together towards the achievement of Jamaica’s national development goals.