NEW YORK, February 7, 2014 – Following are Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Opening Session of the High‑level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, in New York, 6 February:
I am delighted to introduce His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, my friend and the former President of South Africa who is leading this important High-level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.
I have been engaged with the positive transformation of Africa for decades and I appreciate the urgent need to address this debilitating problem. Illicit financial outflows from the continent are estimated at $50 billion — a staggering figure that represents damage to individuals and Africa’s development and governance agenda as a whole.
The sum of $50 billion has been lost each year since the beginning of the millennium. This far outweighs the amount of official development assistance (ODA) that Africa has received over the same period. And even this large amount may be an underestimation since figures are so difficult to measure.
I appreciate the Panel’s work to address this problem. If we can stop Africa from losing resources in illicit outflows, then these funds can be directed to meeting the needs of the continent’s people and allowing them to build a better future.
The United Nations is looking at this issue globally. We are examining how our post-2015 development agenda can address illicit flows and tax evasion while increasing the recovery of stolen assets. In this regard, I thank the UN Economic Commission for Africa for the technical support it is providing the Panel.
I also commend the Panel for reaching out to officials from the United States Government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and others in Washington, D.C. I look forward to the distinguished Panel members sharing their insights and having an exchange views on this important issue.
I am pleased to now give the floor to His Excellency President Mbeki.