Remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, head of the Russian delegation at the seventh session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, Vienna, November 6, 2017
Allow me to congratulate you on your election and wish you success in performing your duties as Chairperson of the Seventh Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
Mr Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Russia is consistently advocating the need to consolidate the world community’s efforts in strengthening the international regulatory system to prevent and combat corruption. The UN plays a central coordinating role in this regard. The activities of other global and regional forums on the anticorruption track are aimed at harmoniously complementing, not superseding the role of the UN. Anticorruption efforts should be pursued in strict compliance with international law.
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is an international treaty regulating all aspects of anticorruption cooperation, from recovering assets to providing technical and legal assistance and extradition.
Two years ago, Russia successfully hosted the Sixth Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC in St Petersburg. We are pleased to say that the efficient work of the St Petersburg conference was welcomed in resolutions of various international organisations, including the anticorruption resolution of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly.
We attach great importance to the UNCAC review mechanism. It significantly enhances the UNCAC’s impact, supports the efforts of states to implement it and fosters cooperation between states. Russia is actively involved in the second review cycle. Specifically, with Palestine, it is reviewing Moldova and is also a state under review by Albania and Zimbabwe.
We believe that the review mechanism has proved its value and does not need any serious adjustment. We would like to note its intergovernmental, as well as technical, legally non-binding status. The main objective of the review mechanism is to assist parties to the convention in implementing its provisions and identifying problems, as well as best practices and technical support.
Russia contributes significantly to the sustainable and reliable financing of the review mechanism. For instance, the Russian Government provided $1.13 million in 2014, in addition to our annual voluntary contribution to ensure the mechanism’s stable operation. This year, Russia has also made available $100,000 in financial support to the review mechanism.
We would like to draw the conference delegates’ attention to the matter of expanding international cooperation to identify, seize and repatriate ill-gotten assets resulting from corruption-related crimes. The UN General Assembly expressed concern over the legal and practical hurdles that are encountered by both requested and requesting states in asset recovery cases, especially considering that this issue is crucial to ensuring stability and sustainable development. In this context, we believe it would be important to develop relevant international legal tools – not only with regard to asset recovery but also mutual legal assistance in criminal cases, extradition and fighting cyber crime. Russia is ready to take practical steps in this respect.
Russia attaches great importance to strengthening international cooperation on the anticorruption track, primarily within the UN system, where a key role is assigned to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Russia is implementing a number of important anticorruption projects in conjunction with the UNODC. This primarily concerns organising regular courses, sponsored by the Prosecutor General’s Office, for liaison officers and government experts participating in the UNCAC review process. The most recent such workshop, which brought together experts from 22 countries, took place in Moscow in April. Russia intends to continue this practice. We have already provided a portion of our voluntary contribution to the UNODC fund for these courses in 2018.
Overall, in the past two years, Russia has provided about $1 million as part of its voluntary contribution to joint projects with UNODC in fighting corruption. In addition to the aforementioned courses, these projects include: implementing the St Petersburg declaration on encouraging public-private partnerships in preventing and fighting corruption, as well as increasing the transparency of beneficiary ownership; a joint project in anticorruption training as part of the anticorruption academic initiative; ensuring the efficient work of the UN anticorruption legal library and the web-based anticorruption portal known as TRACK (Tools and Resources for Anti-Corruption Knowledge).
Russia has put in place a solid legal foundation for combating corruption. Pursuant to the 2008 Law on Corruption Counteraction, efforts are under way to upgrade legislation and streamline law enforcement practice. This work is based on biennial national anticorruption plans approved by the Russian President. The Presidential Executive Office has a special department for fighting corruption, tasked with coordinating the activity of all government agencies in this field. The scope of state and government officials obligated to declare their incomes has been significantly expanded. Strict oversight mechanisms are in place to verity the information provided. New legislation was passed that has changed state procurement rules. Appraisal of draft laws as to their susceptibility to corruption has become common practice. Work is in progress to reduce administrative barriers to commercial activity and encourage the public’s involvement in anticorruption efforts. Russia has made it legally binding upon all commercial and non-commercial organisations to implement anticorruption measures.
The Russian delegation will do all it can to ensure the conference’s success and contribution to expanding international anticorruption cooperation under the aegis of the UN.
In closing, I would like to invite the conference delegates to visit the Russia Against Corruption exhibition at VIC Rotunda.
Thank you for your attention.