Opening statement by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the OECD Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum in Paris 27 March 2018.
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Let me start by thanking the OECD for organizing this event, and for its important contributions in the fight against corruption.
The 2030 Agenda vs. the scourge of corruption
Corruption distorts competition and trade, reduces investments, and slows development. It widens economic and social inequalities. It feeds a sense of injustice, discontent, exclusion and polarisation.
It also erodes trust in institutions and government processes. It undermines democracy and the rule of law. And it creates a fertile breeding ground for extremism, violence and conflict.
These problems are not limited by national boundaries. The global costs are enormous. Corruption is a major source of financing for those seeking to destabilise the world.
The 2030 Agenda provides a framework for creating a fairer society where globalisation benefits all people, not just a few.
193 countries have committed themselves to this agenda and its set of Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 16 – to promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies – is a key to achieving all the other goals.
We need to vitalise this global partnership for sustainable development.
Equally important is our pledge to increase domestic resource mobilisation.
Corruption in all its forms is a serious threat to these efforts and to the 2030 Agenda as a whole.
The challenges before us may seem hard to overcome, but negative trends can be reversed.
What we need is:
- political and public leadership,
- a broad global coalition of all stakeholders,
- a strong commitment to integrity, transparency and accountability in all processes and at all levels, and
- policies, laws, institutions, and instruments to prevent and detect corruption, and to apply sanctions when appropriate.
On the national level, the main focus should be on ensuring transparency, accountability and integrity, and enhancing domestic resource mobilisation.
Fair and effective tax systems are crucial – not only to generate revenue, but also to build trust in government. However, the tax policies of advanced economies can have negative spillover effects. We all need to be mindful of this.
For Norway, responsible natural resource management, vigilant media and a vibrant civil society are also vital elements in our fight against corruption. As is private sector integrity.
Each country has a responsibility to combat corruption at home. But on a global level, corruption can only be tackled through a collective effort.
Norway is stepping up its technical assistance in areas where we have particular expertise. We are ready to share our experience from the management of oil production and fisheries, and in the fields of taxation, income distribution, and gender equality.
Internationally, we need to act decisively and coherently along the entire value chain to:
- prevent corruption and illegal financial flows,
- recover and return assets, and
- ensure the responsible use of returned assets.
We must do this at every step of the way, in countries of origin, transit and destination.
There are still safe havens for the corrupt. I am greatly concerned about this, and I urge all countries to eliminate incentives and opportunities for those seeking to stash away the proceeds of corruption.
All countries are expected to implement the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and other relevant conventions. We also need to further develop international norms, rules and frameworks.
At the 7th Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC last autumn, Norway spearheaded a resolution on the prevention and abolition of large-scale corruption. We will continue to be at the forefront of these efforts.
Concrete steps need to be taken to clarify beneficial ownership and improve transparency over payments and taxation. We need to see more country-by-country reporting by multinational companies.
Norway is interested in developing strategic partnerships in this field. Anti-corruption is an important item on the agenda in our dialogue with other countries. And it is a key issue in our engagement with multilateral and regional organisations.
New technologies represent additional challenges and possibilities. The challenges relating to the Internet of Things, the digital economy and digital trade need to be addressed coherently. At the same time, we should grasp the opportunities, for example for improving taxation.
We should also cooperate in the best possible way in addressing criminal matters.
I think we can all agree: Corruption is a destructive cancer. The antidote is inclusive governance with integrity, transparency and accountability in all processes, and at all levels.
I welcome your innovative ideas that can help us achieve this goal.