The fight against corruption is an imperative that we must all tackle together [fr]
CHALLENGES AND MEASURES TO PREVENT AND COMBAT CORRUPTION AND STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
STATEMENT BY MR. FRANCK RIESTER,
MINISTER DELEGATE FOR FOREIGN TRADE AND ECONOMIC ATTRACTIVENESS,
ATTACHED TO THE MINISTER FOR EUROPE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 2 June 2021
= Translation from French =
Distinguished representatives of the civil society,
Corruption undermines the foundations of our democracies, economic and social development, and environmental protection. It stifles growth and distorts competition between economic actors. Lack of transparency in public procurement, discriminatory practices and increased transaction costs discourage investment. The General Assembly’s special session on corruption is therefore of considerable importance.
The fight against corruption is an imperative that we must all tackle together. France is very actively involved in international efforts against corruption and intends to continue its action in this regard.
As early as 2013, France established a national prosecutor’s office dedicated to the fight against serious financial crime, whose remarkable work led it to be declared "prosecutor of the year" by the Global Investigations Review in 2020. In the same year, France created a High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life, in charge of promoting the probity and exemplarity of public officials, monitoring the ethics of public officials and agents, overseeing lobbying and, of course, spreading a culture of integrity. In 2016, France also adopted a law on transparency, action against corruption and the modernization of economic life, which includes the creation of the French Anti-Corruption Agency.
This action is not limited to the domestic level. French judicial authorities are actively involved in international criminal cooperation. At the European and international levels, France takes part in the work of the UNODC, the OECD and GRECO in particular. During this session, as well as during the Conference of States Parties to the Mérida Convention in December 2021, France will pay particular attention to four issues:
One, the role of civil society in the fight against corruption, to better take into account its expertise and protect whistleblowers;
Two, the gender dimension of the fight against corruption. Corruption has a different impact on women and men. In societies where women are the primary caretakers of children on a daily basis, for example, they are more in contact with public education or health services, making them more vulnerable to corruption in accessing these services. France has a feminist diplomacy which is also expressed here;
Three, the impact of corruption on sustainable development and the environment in line with the resolution on this issue, whose adoption we promoted in December 2019 at the last meeting of the States Parties to the Merida Convention. In this regard, we are today publishing France’s "Anti-corruption strategy in its cooperation action", which aims to ensure that French development aid does not fuel corruption, and to support the fight against corruption in partner countries;
Finally, four, with regard to the recovery of assets resulting from corruption and confiscated by the courts, France will continue to work for the full implementation of the Merida Convention. To do so, France will rely on an evaluation of this issue at the international level, on the mechanisms of mutual assistance in criminal matters, as well as on the mechanism provided for in the bill currently being examined by the French Parliament, which provides for the restitution of these funds as close as possible to the populations that have been victims of corruption.
The context in which our session is taking place is not indifferent: the importance of the funds mobilized by the States to face the pandemic, since March 2020, may generate an increased risk of corruption in certain sectors. We must show the greatest collective vigilance.
Mr. Secretary-General, you can count on France, during this special session as well as during future events, to support the international community’s efforts to ensure the proper implementation of the relevant international framework, for the benefit of all States.