African Union Group of Ambassadors to the UN commits further support to efforts of AU/ECA High Level Panel on IFFs from Africa towards stemming illicit financial outflows from the continent

With the year approaching its end, the Secretariat of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa which consists of the African Union (AU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) organised an interactive briefing session for the Africa Group of Ambassadors to the United Nations in New York. The session was held in the margins of the Africa Dialogue Series 2018. Up to 41 countries actively participated in the session with 21 Ambassadors ably representing Africa in the discussions which took place. The Permanent Representative of Morocco who currently chairs the African Group invited the Delegation led by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the ECA and Co-Chair of the Consortium to Stem IFFs from Africa, Dr. Abdalla Hamdok to brief the Ambassadors.

The Ambassadors were briefed in detail on the various efforts which have been carried out under the leadership of the Chair of the Panel, H.E. Thabo Mbeki, Former President of the Republic of South Africa since he last met with them in 2016. This includes the fact that in order to stem illicit financial flows (IFFs) from Africa, the Panel and its Secretariat have begun practical implementation of the recommendations of the AU/ECA High Level Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, also known as the ‘Mbeki Report’. This was in line with its mandate to fulfil the AU Special Declaration on IFFs which was passed by the AU Assembly in 2015.

In his statement, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the ECA and Co-Chair of the Consortium to Stem IFFs from Africa, Dr. Abdalla Hamdok emphasized on the need for collaboration with the Ambassadors in order to adequately stem IFFs from Africa. He further asked them ‘How can we work together in the implementation of the Mbeki Report’? This was a sentiment carried by all present and indeed there was an underlying agreement by the Ambassadors to fully support this agenda. Dr. Hamdok further outlined other ongoing efforts by the Secretariat as well as the Consortium and its members to address illicit outflows. These include strengthening the institutional and regulatory capacity of African countries to combat illicit outflows, increasing advocacy for national and continental policy changes and establishing a multifaceted but united front to address the complex nature of illicit financial flows from the continent. He mentioned specific projects being carried out by ECA, UNCTAD and other institutions in collaboration with the HLP Secretariat which all address the aforementioned required efforts.

The Africa Group of Ambassadors responded to the briefing by the Secretariat with renewed vigour for collaboration with the Chair and the Panel to ultimately address this issue. They commended this agenda which had gained global attention and momentum since the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. However, there was a rightful view that, given the constant increase in annual outflows from the continent, more needs to be done by African member states on this issue in order to avoid greater losses for Africa’s development agenda. Several Ambassadors particularly stressed that there is not enough outrage by Africa on the issue of IFFs and as such, there is the need for greater sensitization on this issue, because there needs to be outrage to get adequate action to address it. The UN Group of Ambassadors who were in attendance also urged Africans not to feed into the narrative that the Continent is corrupt but should rather focus on combatting IFFs from Africa because through this, the continent and its agenda will not be ignored or have its message diluted.

Also in attendance at the session were Professor Eddy Maloka, CEO of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, Dr. Aida Opoku-Mensah, Co-Chair of the IFF Working Group, Dr. Ebrima Sall, Executive Director of Trust Africa and Ms. Souad Aden-Osman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) who were all part of the Delegation meeting the Ambassadors. The briefing of the Africa Group of Ambassadors is part of several high level advocacy events organized by the HLP Secretariat to sensitize regional and global stakeholders of the ongoing agenda to stem IFFs from Africa as well as engage support to the work of the Chair and the Consortium towards implementing the recommendations of the Mbeki Report.

NOTE TO EDITORS.

Following the endorsement of the High Level Panel (HLP) Report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa and the passing of the AU Special Declaration by the African Union Heads of States at the 24th African Union Summit in 2015, there was the obvious need to wholly implement its recommendations nationally, regionally and globally. Accordingly, a coalition of Stakeholders which became the Consortium of Stakeholders to Stem IFFs from Africa was established. Above all else, the Consortium of stakeholders works to foster coherent implementation of the recommendations of the High Level Panel and ultimately stem the growth of IFFs from Africa.

Chaired by H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, the Consortium to Stem Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa further constituted a core group within itself to address all technicalities with regards to implementing the recommendations of the report. This led to the the IFF Working Group (IWG) in 2016.