Mr. Chair of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by stating that Portugal associates itself with the statement of the European Union.
Portugal also fully endorses the Political Declaration of this Special Session.
Corruption is a threat to democracy, good governance, transparency and fair competition. It undermines human rights, the rule of law and the fundamental values on which our societies are based.
Almost 18 years after the approval of the Convention against Corruption here we meet, to discuss, once again, the impact and effects of corruption around the world and remedies to address it.
We are aware that corruption is not easy to tackle.
The pact of silence between both sides – the active and the passive – makes it difficult to gather evidence and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
This worrying scenario is a breeding ground for the emerging and multiplication of demagogic discourses and populist narratives, that can be a trigger for conflicts.
As we all know, as conflict rages, corruption prospers, and impunity continues to prevail.
Therefore, preventing, combating and punishing corrupt behaviours must necessarily be taken by the States as a structuring element of a proactive and effective criminal policy.
Over the last 30 years, many legislative, organisational and management measures have been taken in Portugal to prevent and fight corruption and related crime.
All international instruments on preventing and fighting corruption and money laundering have been ratified and incorporated into the domestic legislation.
A complete and comprehensive legislative framework, ranging from the criminalization of corruption in general to the criminalization of corruption involving political office holders, corruption in the private sector, corruption in international business transactions and corruption in sports is in force in our legal order.
Aware of the need to improve effectiveness of the public response to this reality, my Government included in its programme, as a matter of priority, to continue fighting corruption, recognizing that, although solid progress has been made, the road is still far from to be completed.
Actions and measures have been taken to engage in public policies for better governance and to prevent it, by providing citizenship education and raising awareness, digitalizing public services and implementing e-measures, and therefore mitigating the risks, supressing bureaucracy and increasing transparency and equality.
The Strategy for Innovation and Modernisation of the State and Public Administration 2020-2023, developing the e-Government, provided tools to bring the Public Administration closer to citizens.
The SIMPLEX Programme provided a highly valuable contribution to simplifying relations between the Public Administration and citizens and promoting trust. Measures as the e-invoice and e-medical prescription, are good examples of the measures taken.
All these measures will allow Portugal to meet one of the targets of Sustainable Development Goals, i.e. the development of effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.
The first ever Anti-corruption strategy 2020-2024 was recently approved, with strong support of political parties and civil society.
The document identifies priorities and a set of combined and integrated actions, aimed at allowing the State to act ex ante, thus reducing the need for criminal reaction, understood as a last resort (ultima ratio).
Priorities were established such as:
- To improve knowledge, training and institutional practices on transparency and integrity.
- To engage the private sector in the prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption.
- To improve the response timing of the judicial system and ensure the appropriateness and effectiveness of the penalties. And,
- To cooperate at international level to fight corruption.
To conclude, Mr Chair,
Portugal reiterates its full commitment to the UNCAC as the main universal document for combating corruption in all its forms and manifestations. The Convention, an instrument with wide adherence, offers the broadest scope of international cooperation.
International cooperation based in mutual trust is crucial for fighting all types of corrupt behaviours.
Therefore, Portugal will continue to work on implementing UNCAC, sharing best practices and supporting efforts to make cooperation more effective, in bilateral and multilateral dimensions, with strategic partners and relevant regional and international organizations.
Thank you very much.