Jeddah (UNA-OIC) – Under the auspices of the Crown Prince and Saudi Prime Minister, Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the “First Ministerial Meeting of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Agencies in the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to adopt the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention” kicked off today, Tuesday, in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The meeting is hosted by the Kingdom, represented by the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha), under the umbrella of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The meeting discussed the draft endorsement of the “Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention”, with high-level international participation of ministers, heads, deputies and representatives of the enforcement agencies of anti-corruption laws in the member states of the OIC.
During his speech at the outset of the meeting, the president of the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mazen bin Ibrahim Al-Kahmous, affirmed the support given by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and his Crown Prince, Prime Minister Prince Muhammad bin Salman, to the efforts of combating corruption at the local and international levels.
He stressed that the issue of combating corruption is one of the essential pillars of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030.
Al-Kahmous said that this ministerial meeting activates the OIC’s charter, which stipulates combating corruption, money laundering and organized crime.
He explained that the ministerial meeting and the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention are based on the resolution of the Council of OIC Foreign Ministers held in Islamabad last March, which welcomed the initiative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as chair of the 14th Islamic Summit, to hold this ministerial meeting in order to prepare a draft agreement to combat corruption.
“The adoption of the Makkah Convention by the OIC member states establishes a new phase for strengthening cooperation among them in the field of combating corruption in a way that serves their common interests, achieves more development and prosperity, and makes them an example to follow in other regional and international gatherings,” Nazaha’s President said.
He pointed out that the Convention reflects the awareness of the OIC member states that corruption is a cross-border crime and, therefore, cannot be combated effectively without the commitment of states to cooperate with the aim of exposing corruption, reducing safe havens for the corrupt and their money, and returning the looted funds to their countries of origin.
Al-Kahmous concluded his speech by saying: “We look forward in our meetings to embody the strong relations between Islamic countries and achieve the desired goals in order to meet the aspirations of our leaders.”
For his part, the OIC Secretary-General, Hissein Brahim Taha, affirmed that the “Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention” represents the most appropriate framework for preventing and combating corruption in the OIC member states through effective mechanisms for prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation, and asset recovery.
He noted that OIC member states need legal mechanisms that help promote the principles of transparency and integrity to establish the foundations of good governance.
The Secretary-General renewed his sincere and profound thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous initiative, as the Chairman of the 14th Islamic Summit, to host the First Ministerial Meeting of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Agencies in the OIC Member States.
He called on OIC member states to engage in the anti-corruption path by signing and ratifying the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention in accordance with their legal systems and in line with the aspirations and visions of member states in the field of combating corruption.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Ghada Wali, praised the initiative of the OIC to hold this meeting, which represents an important step to strengthen the international framework of combating corruption.
She also commended the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Nazaha in hosting and supporting this meeting at a critical time, regionally and internationally, and after two years in which the world was affected by an unprecedented epidemic.
Wali stressed that corruption has become an existential challenge for our societies.
“At a time when the world is witnessing escalating armed conflicts, economic crises, and living difficulties, in addition to the climate and environmental crisis that threatens the future of all of us, corruption is affecting the funds and resources that we need to confront these crises adding to the difficulty of the challenges facing us,” Wali said.
She revealed that corruption costs the world huge amounts of money and reduces the ability of countries to provide public services.
“For example, the United Nations Development Program estimates that corruption causes public project contracts to lose about 10% of their value worldwide, equivalent to $1.3 trillion annually,” Wali added.
She stressed that corruption is one of the main obstacles to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which represents a particular priority for the developing world and the OIC member states.
She also pointed out that this ministerial meeting represents a real opportunity to take serious steps towards combating corruption by approving the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention on cooperation in the field of enforcement of the anti-corruption law, which will undoubtedly support the existing international system in this field, on top of which is the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
For his part, the Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) Jürgen Stock expressed his thanks to Nazaha and the government of Saudi Arabia for hosting this important meeting, noting that INTERPOL cooperates with many regional and international organizations on combating corruption.
Stock pointed out that INTERPOL is cooperating closely with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through its Riyadh Anti-corruption Initiative, praising the Saudi leadership in combating corruption not only at the national and regional levels but also at the global level.
Stock added that the Kingdom’s global role in combating corruption is also evident in its offer to host in Riyadh the Interpol regional office in the Middle East and North Africa, expressing his aspiration to open this office in the near future in order to begin its work in the field of combating terrorism and financial crimes.
The Secretary General of INTERPOL noted the level of cooperation between law enforcement agencies in the OIC countries and INTERPOL, calling for more exchange of information on combating corruption.
For her part, the Chair of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, Xolisile Khanyile, expressed her thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its immense efforts to combat corruption.
She explained that combating corruption is combating financial crime, so this crime must be addressed, noting that in order to do so properly, we must track money.
She also pointed out that we must be fully equipped to combat corruption with the necessary knowledge and appropriate skills, including financial investigators, financial analysts, data analysts and lawyers.
During his speech at the meeting, the President of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, Dr. Abdul Majeed bin Abdullah Al-Bunyan, appreciated the significant role played by Nazaha in promoting integrity and combating corruption not only at the national level but also internationally.
He stressed that the fight against corruption is closely linked to national security, pointing out that corruption results from chaos and unrest, and thus its spread is a major cause for destabilizing countries.
He stressed that societies cannot enjoy prosperity and development without effective law enforcement agencies capable of confronting corruption in light of national and international legislation that enables them to carry out their assigned role.
The meeting is expected to continue tomorrow, Wednesday, amid discussions by the OIC member states activating the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention and strengthening cooperation in combating corruption.