AFRICA: UN urges African countries to team up against illicit financial flows.

By added on 13/05/2019

As published on, Sunday 12th May, 2019.


Madam María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly has urged African countries to team up against illicit financial flow (IFFs) on the continent.

IFFs refer to the movement of money across borders that is illegal in its source (e.g. corruption, smuggling), its transfer (e.g. tax evasion), or its use (e.g. terrorist financing).

“I encourage you to build your efforts and the power of ideas to strengthen the voice and impact of Africa – to make progress on issues such as illicit financial flows and environmental degradation, and to make sure that the UN’s 75th anniversary – preparations for which are currently underway – serves to advance Africa’s interests in strengthening the Organization and the region’s place within it,” she said.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ghana, public lecture series in Accra, Madam Espinosa said as Dr Kwame Nkrumah put it so powerfully and eloquently in his first address to the UN as President of Ghana, let this be “dawn of a new era”.

Madam Espinosa, who is on a four-day visit to Ghana, spoke on theme “Responding to global challenges in a fast-changing world: the case for strengthening multilateralism”.

She said Africa had also led by example, citing the 1981 Banjul Charter – with its emphasis on peace and development, as well as collective rights – had served as inspiration for documents such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2030 Agenda.

She mentioned the Ezulwini Consensus, a progressive vision for the UN set out by the AU in 2005, endorsed regulation of the arms trade and the prohibition of nuclear weapons several years before these treaties came into being.

Its emphasis on strengthening the role of the General Assembly, especially in the peace and security sphere, is even more pertinent today.

She said having supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court; several African countries – the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Mali, and Uganda – have referred themselves to it.

“It is important to bear this in mind as we hear criticism of the Court,” she said.

“Today, while challenges remain, of course, Africa is a source of hope. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies this year are predicted to be African.”

She said entrepreneurs like Nelson Boateng, who invented a type of asphalt made from plastic, could transform the continent’s future.

“I firmly believe that the power to unlock the 2030 Agenda and revitalise the UN rests in your hands. And I firmly believe that Ghana – the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence – can again lead the way.”

Madam Espinosa lauded Ghana for the critical role it was played in global peacekeeping and hosting of refugees.

“Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to achieve Millennium Development Goal 1 on poverty. “Ghana Beyond Aid” offers a route to replicate this success for the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

“This country, whose pre-independence history is a lesson in the power of ideas, can lead the world by devising new ways of public consultations on national positions for multilateral processes, in order to build the support needed for the implementation of global commitments.

“We have seen that the countries with the most successful migration policies, for example, are those that engage local communities in open discussions on all aspects of migration.”

She said the time for omnipresent Government had ended; “it is time for a new relationship between the governors and the governed that reflects the profound transformations that will define our ever-changing world”.

Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, Chancellor, University of Ghana, who chaired the function, said the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a benchmark for the protection of fundamental human rights, the promotion of peace and security across the world, the adoption and promotion of the Millennium Development Goals and now the Sustainable Development Goals were all enviable accomplishments by the UN General Assembly.

Mr Daniel K. Osei, President, Council on Foreign Relations, Ghana, said there was the need to adequately prepare the youth for the future.