Johannesburg Conference Links Human Rights and Financial Transparency in Africa


Illicit Financial Flows “Greatly Aggravate Poverty and Oppression in Many Developing Countries”

GFI Estimates Illicit Outflows Drain 5.5% of GDP from Sub-Saharan Africa Annually

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – International and African experts on human rights and illicit financial flows are convening in Johannesburg, South Africa this week for a multi-day conference on the linkages between financial transparency and human rights in Africa.

Hosted by Global Financial Integrity (GFI)—in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)—the event builds upon the New Haven Declaration on Human Rights and Financial Integrity (New Haven Declaration), which recognized that “human rights and international financial integrity are intimately linked.”

“Illicit financial flows are the single biggest economic problem plaguing the developing world,” said GFI President Raymond Baker, a longtime expert on financial crime. “GFI research estimates that illicit outflows drain a startling 5.5 percent of GDP from Sub-Saharan Africa—more than any other region in the world. Beyond sapping enormous capital from Africa, these outflows undermine government accountability and stability, stifle domestic resource mobilization, and fuel economic inequality. They are a major challenge to economic and human rights.”

In December 2009, GFI, together with Professor Thomas Pogge, hosted a conference at Yale University that brought together for the first time decision makers in the human rights community with key members of the financial transparency community. The Yale event culminated in the New Haven Declaration—signed by many of the leading organizations working on human rights, financial transparency, and global development—which states:

“Human rights and international financial integrity are intimately linked. Where poverty is pervasive, civil, political, and economic rights often go unrealized. Today, large outflows of illicit money—many times larger than all development assistance—greatly aggravate poverty and oppression in many developing countries.”

Commencing Monday at the University of Johannesburg, this week’s conference, titled “Financial Transparency and Human Rights in Africa: Fostering Greater National and Regional Economic Opportunity in Africa through Human Rights and Financial Transparency,” will bring together policymakers, multilateral institutions, and civil society for discussions considering the legal, advocacy, and academic channels for leveraging these connections to effect change, both within Africa and globally.

Some of the event’s speakers and panelists are (in alphabetical order):

    Raymond Baker, President, Global Financial Integrity;

    Mojanku Gumbi, Independent Non Executive Director, African Bank Investments Ltd.;

    Claude Kabemba, Executive Director, Southern Africa Resource Watch;

    Shauna Leven, Campaign Director, Anti-Corruption, Global Witness;

    Siphosami Malunga, Executive Director, Open Society Initiative Southern Africa (OSISA);

    Rafael Marques de Morais, Founder and Director, Maka Angola;

    Amol Mehra, Director, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable;

    Tendai Murisa, Executive Director, Trust Africa;

    Savoir Mwambwa, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Tax Justice Network-Africa;

    Cecilia Njenga, Regional Programme Coordinator, Southern Africa, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);

    Adriano Nuvunga, Executive Director, Centre for Public Integrity (Mozambique);

    Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, Yale University;

    Hubert René Schillinger, Geneva Office Director, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung;

    Khadija Sharife, Financial Researcher, African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR); Investigative Dashboard (Africa); and

    Ed Stoddard, Senior Correspondent, Commodities, Southern Africa, Reuters.

    For more details on the conference, including a full list of speakers, visit the event page on GFI’s website.

    Source: Global Financial Integrity


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