Panama City, 29 November 2013.
Statement by the Delegation of Finland
Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption
Fifth session, Panama City, 25-29 November 2013
Agenda item 2, Review of implementation and technical assistance
May I begin by commending the Secretariat for the servicing of this meeting, including the excellent quality of the documentation and making it available through the COSP5 Online Services website.
More broadly, Finland commends the Secretariat for its wide-ranging and unstinting work to facilitate the review of the implementation of the Convention, at the Implementation Review Group, the working groups on prevention and asset recovery, and the individual country reviews. The Secretariat has shown a high degree of professionalism and dedication to its mandate.
I would like to speak to two issues, the country reviews and the work of the Implementation Review Group.
Regarding the country reviews, we are gratified by the progress that has been achieved since we decided on the review mechanism in Doha. Many speakers, including the President of this Conference, speaking for our gracious and hospitable host country Panama, have noted that the peer-review process has been, for them, a positive and enriching experience. This reflects our own experience as the first State Party to be reviewed, and our own reviews of Switzerland and Benin. We all have learned much, not only about how corruption is prevented elsewhere, but how we in our own country can be more effective in our response to corruption.
Mr Chairman, we note that country visits have been organized in connection with almost all the country reviews, and that in the large majority the country under review has invited representatives of the private sector and civil society as well as other stakeholders to participate. Therefore, it was gratifying that many speakers here in Panama have stressed the value of the participation of such stakeholders. Chapter II of the Convention underscores the importance of wide participation, and the States Parties have not only recognized this, but involved the stakeholders in the national debate.
Such discussions on the national level enhance the transparency and inclusivity of the review. It is only by the government working together with individuals and groups in the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations, and the academic community, that our efforts to prevent and respond to corruption can be effective, and we can develop a strong culture of non-tolerance towards corruption, and promote the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability. It is my understanding that there is no one in this room that would question this importance of partnership on the national level.
Mr Chairman, we warmly welcome suggestions that the Secretariat assist States Parties in identifying good practice in this respect, for example by facilitating the preparation of checklists to be used by interested States Parties in strengthening wide stakeholder involvement in the review. As I mentioned, Finland was the first country to conduct a review. Had we to do it over again, we would certainly have benefitted from the experiences of other States Parties, and we would have done some things differently.
Mr Chairman, to turn to the involvement of all relevant stakeholders on the international level, I regret that this same recognition of the importance of partnership has been slower to emerge and to become a valued and integral part of our work.
It is Finland’s consistent view that involvement of all stakeholders in the review of implementation also on the international level would make our response to corruption more effective. We are also consistent in our view that such involvement is in fact necessary if we are to respect the guiding principles and characteristics of the Mechanism and the terms of reference, including transparency, non-intrusiveness, inclusiveness and impartiality. The well-organized events and excellent publications presented by non-governmental organizations here in Panama have deepened our understanding of our response to corruption and enriched our debate.
The current status is that non-governmental organizations do not participate in the working groups on prevention and asset recovery, or in the work of the Implementation Review Group. Two years ago, we agreed in Marrakesh, in the form of resolution 4/6, on briefings for non-governmental organizations and also decided that we are to continue constructive dialogue on the contribution of non-governmental organizations to the Mechanism for the review of implementation of the Convention.
It is therefore unfortunate that we still have not recognized and respected the valuable contribution that non-governmental organizations could provide as observers in the Working Groups on Prevention and Asset Recovery, nor have we gone beyond the holding of briefings for non-governmental organizations in the margins of sessions of the Implementation Review Group.
Indeed, our impression is that efforts even to raise the question of the contribution of non-governmental organizations to the Mechanism have been hindered by some States Parties, most recently here in Panama. Such hindrance is in our view directly against the clear intent of resolution 4/6 of this Conference of States Parties from our session only two years ago in Marrakesh, and against the principles of our work in the United Nations.
Mr Chairman, through you I would like to address the representatives of non-governmental organizations in this room and at this Conference, as well as their colleagues around the world: we do hear you, and many of us in States Parties will continue to work with you so that we can improve our review Mechanism, and make it as transparent and inclusive as is indeed required by our guiding principles and terms of reference.
Finland sincerely hopes that we are able to move forward between now and our next session in the Russian Federation two years from now.