REMARKS: SG Puna to Pre-UNCAC COSP Conference

Remarks and Speeches
17 August 2023

SG Henry Puna Opening Remarks 



17-18 August 2023

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva, Fiji

• Excellencies,

• 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