SG Henry Puna Opening Remarks
PRE-UNCAC COSP Conference
17-18 August 2023
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva, Fiji
• Heads of Delegations and Senior Officials representing Pacific Governments,
• Representatives of Civil Society Organisations,
• Ladies and Gentlemen.
• Kia orana and welcome to your Secretariat.
• I recognise that it is a busy time for the region and I thank you all for availing yourselves to attend these preparatory discussions over the next two days.
• Your discussions today and tomorrow, provide a valuable opportunity to discuss and agree a collective approach to the region’s engagement at the 10th Session of the UN Convention against Corruption Conference of State Parties later this year.
• More importantly, it is also an opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the our collective approach to the implementation of the Teieniwa Vision.
• Indeed, just two weeks ago, the Secretariat participated in the Regional Anti-Corruption Conference in Nadi.
• Our message was clear. We emphasised that corruption:
o is the enemy of progress, growth and economic development;
o it undermines democracy and the rule of law; and
o it encourages the emergence of criminal ecosystems that operate under the scrutiny of law enforcement such as organized crime and other threats to human security.
• Taking all this into account, I would offer that addressing corruption is more important now than ever, particularly as geopolitical competition intensifies all around us.
• We should be working towards upholding good governance principles that keep decision-makers, like me, accountable and transparent in our actions.
• We want institutions that ensure that decisions are made in support of our national and collective interests and priorities.
• We must ensure that accountability systems, processes and institutions – state and non-state – are resourced to play their roles effectively.
• I urge all of you to continue to fight the good fight and to stop the scourge of corruption from derailing our development aspirations.
• So, how do we all continue to engender and harness the political will needed to fight corruption?
• At the regional level, the commitment is clear, in both the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and the Teieniwa Vision.
• The 2050 Strategy frames the long-term approach for regional cooperation.
• The Teieniwa Vision, adopted by Leaders in 2021, sets out a clear commitment for the region to work together and hold ourselves accountable for progressing Pacific unity against corruption.
• And we are taking concrete actions to ensure we implement the work that is required to achieve the 2050 Strategy and the Teieniwa Vision.
• As present, Forum Members are working very hard to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the 2050 Strategy, which will be considered by Forum Leaders when they meet in November this year.
• In relation to our work on corruption, this implementation plan will complement the existing work on the Teieniwa Vision Implementation Matrix that our Members endorsed last year.
• I urge all of us to continue to work together, recognising our Leaders’ emphasis on the importance of regional cooperation and collaboration, towards realising our collective aspirations under the 2050 Strategy.
• These plans are intimately aligned. They speak to the same goal.
• And one thing that is clear, is that to deliver on our vision for a corruption-free Pacific, as anti-corruption focal points, you all have an important role to play in harnessing political support at the national level.
• This is critical as our regional commitments will fail, if national efforts are not in order.
• This bring us to why we are here today.
• This gathering is an important aspect of our collective political will to address corruption.
• In addition to preparing the region for the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in December; it also provides the Forum Secretariat and the UNODC an opportunity to continue to foster our collective political will to operationalise the Teieniwa Vision.
• This meeting also provides an opportunity to promote the active participation of the Pacific State Parties to international anti-corruption discourse.
• So I urge you all:
o Use this meeting as an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other to strengthen your own approaches at the National level.
o Use it as an opportunity to establish support networks that will assist in your work when you return home.
• You are not alone, we have friends, family, partners and donors who are willing to assist in this important work.
• On this note, I would like to acknowledge the assistance from the government of New Zealand in resourcing this initiative.
• Let me also take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the UNODC and UNDP offices here in Suva.
• The UNODC and UNDP have been very good partners in advancing regional anticorruption efforts, and I hope that we will continue to strengthen these partnerships moving forward.
• In closing, I hope that you will all enjoy your deliberation over the next two days to shape how we will contribute as a region, at the upcoming Conference of State Parties in Georgia, USA.
• I hope that we all come away from this week with a reinvigorated sense of commitment to fighting corruption within our region.
• Meitaki, vinaka and thank you.–ENDS
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