High-level Panel Discusses Illicit Financial Flows from Africa

UNECADecember 2013: The Sixth Meeting of the High-level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa discussed the drivers and dynamics of illicit financial flows, their impact on development, and instruments and institutional settings to address these outflows. The panel, which has now completed consultations with the five sub-regions, is expected to produce a comprehensive report with recommendations in March 2014.

Former President of South Africa Thabo Mbkei, who chairs the Panel, has described illicit financial flows as the single economic issue hindering Africa's development.

Illicit financial flows worsen poverty and macroeconomic conditions, undermine the rule of law and stifle trade, according to the concept note for the meeting. The note emphasizes that prompt action to curtail illicit financial outflows from Africa will provide "a major source of funds" for development programmes. Africa lost an average of US$50 billion annually from illicit financial flows between 2000 and 2008, a level that exceeds the amount of Africa's Official Development Assistance (ODA), according to the UNECA.

The Panel's sixth meeting took place on 3 December 2013, in Accra, Ghana, and included a regional consultation for West and Central Africa. Over 60 representatives from the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches attended in addition to private sector and civil society.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) established the ten-member panel to analyze and understand the dimensions and nature of illicit financial flows from Africa and their impact on Africa's development. The Panel also is tasked with encouraging the adoption of national, regional and global agreements, policies and safeguards to address illicit financial flows. Its previous meetings include a public consultation in Kenya and regional consultations for North, Eastern and Southern Africa. 

The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICSDF) also has discussed issues related to development financing, noting the need for macroeconomic and financial market stability and a fair multilateral trade system to achieve sustainable development. Within this context, the Committee's multistakeholder meeting in December 2013 recognized the need to address illicit financial flows in Africa. [UNECA Website on Meeting] [Concept Note] [UNECA Press Release on Previous Meeting] [ICSDF Co-Chairs' Meeting Summary] [ICSDF Multistakeholder Dialogue]