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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The first experts meeting on establishing the ‘Riyadh Initiative’ network aimed at enhancing international anti-corruption law enforcement cooperation has been held.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha), met virtually for the first time since the decision at the G20 Summit in Riyadh to create the global network.
The Vienna-based “Global Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities” will operate under the umbrella of the UNODC and will rely on the principle of “informal” and efficient information exchange between nations.
“Corruption and complex money laundering-related cases generally require cooperation beyond domestic borders,” a report released by the UNODC said. “The importance of quick responses to foreign requests for international cooperation in criminal matters is widely recognized by practitioners and the importance of informal assistance that speeds up cooperation,” it said.
The decision to create the global network came during the G20 Anti-Corruption Ministerial Meeting in Riyadh, which recognized the need for informal communication channels to increase anti-corruption efforts and better fight criminals on a global scale.
“Informal assistance can lead to a more rapid identification of criminals and assets,” the report said.
Participating countries can expect to strengthen communication exchange and peer learning between anti-corruption law enforcement authorities through being brought together in a global network.
The aim of the initiative is not to replace existing channels of communication but to enhance and complement them, by providing a “broader anti-corruption scope.”
The initiative will see collaborative efforts and active consultation with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol, the Egmont Group — to name a few — each specializing in various aspects of anti-corruption, such as transnational bribery cases, money-laundering and stolen-asset recovery.
The UNODC will use the existing UN headquarters in Vienna to organize annual meetings to improve bilateral and multilateral informal cooperation, as well as provide resources for necessary training and development, with the first meeting expected to take place this September.
One of the other ways the initiative aims to achieve these goals is through the “one-stop hub” — a secure online platform to complement network meetings.
The one-stop hub aims to tackle the current fragmentation of communication among anti-corruption law enforcement authorities by providing an additional communication channel — with guidance on selecting the optimal channel to establish contact with a foreign counterpart.
The report added that funding for the platform is currently provided by a donor, however, “to ensure its maintenance and increased functionalities over the coming years, further voluntary funding may be required.”
Currently, the Interpol channel is conceived as the main medium for police-to-police law enforcement cooperation.
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