January 06, 2017

ABA ROLI Organizes the Third APEC Pathfinder Dialogue on Trade and Corruption

During the third Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meetings, from August 18-19, 2016, in Lima, Peru, the governments of Peru and the U.S. co-hosted the APEC Pathfinder Dialogue III on Strengthening the Fight against Illicit Trade and Corruption throughout the Asia-Pacific Region. The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) organized the dialogue with support from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Pathfinder Dialogue is guided by the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group (ACT) five-year strategic plan and APEC Leaders’ call for action. In close consultation with the governments of Peru and the U.S., ABA ROLI organized the third Pathfinder Dialogue to encourage quality growth and human development by mitigating corrupt and criminal risks to our communities and our natural resources. The primary purposes of the gathering were to strengthen international cooperation across borders, sectors and industries and to nurture “cultures of integrity” across Asia-Pacific economies, markets and supply chains, through a spirit of active engagement and partnerships for sustainable environment and human security.

Over 120 delegates from APEC, Asia, Latin America, international organizations, the private sector and civil society shared best practices, lessons learned and proven methods to combat the pivotal role of corruption in different transnational crimes. This dialogue provided a rare opportunity for officials from Southeast Asia and Latin America to share their similar experiences and strategies to prevent a range of crimes, including trafficking in persons, forests and wildlife and other natural resource extraction industries. ABA ROLI’s Regional Anti-Corruption advisor, Peter Ritchie, chaired the opening session highlighting Asia-Pacific Regional Perspectives.    

As with the past two Pathfinder Dialogues, participants explored the nexus of corruption-enabled human trafficking, wildlife trafficking and other environmental crimes (such as illegal logging and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing). For the first time, the Pathfinder initiative also explored the impact corruption has on the mining industry. Throughout the conference, participants underscored the need for the targeted use of anti-money laundering and asset confiscation systems to fight corruption and these associated crimes. In order to do this, investigators must strengthen their understanding and use of financial intelligence in wildlife crime investigations, and their investigation skills must also be developed.

During the event, the OECD noted the importance of effectively implementing its “Principles for Combatting Corruption related to Trafficking in Persons,” which were refined in partnership with ABA ROLI as part of the second APEC Pathfinder Dialogue in 2015.

UNODC and other experts noted entrenched corruption along entire wildlife trafficking supply chains, including in the issuance of permits. In order to effectively target this corruption, Juliana Ferreira, founder of Freeland-Brazil, called for further mapping of illicit wildlife networks — delivered through stronger regional law enforcement cooperation and coordination.

The chairman of the APEC Mining Task Force, Rodrigo Urquiza Caroca, said that good governance and avoiding corruption are essential to fully realize the economic benefits of mining and to avoid social and environmental harm. At the dialogue, the OECD launched its report “Corruption in the Extractive Value Chain,” which provides a detailed analysis of risks and corruption prevention measures. Indonesia’s anti-corruption authority and the Philippines government described successes that they have had in tackling corruption in this sector. The use of satellites and smartphone technology was highlighted as a tool to combat deforestation, converge illicit threats and create clean supply chains.

Delegates laid out a clear path moving forward with eight areas for intervention:

  • Coordinating and sharing information across agencies and disciplines, both domestically and internationally, including APEC partnerships for sustainable security with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) economies
  • Increasing research, analysis and data to understand the full breath of illicit industries and their economic impact
  • Targeting implementation of the U.N. Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)
  • Using systems to detect money laundering and to confiscate proceeds of crime more frequently
  • Utilizing technology to detect, measure and combat corruption and illicit industries
  • Providing greater training and capacity-building on environmental crime and illicit trafficking
  • Developing principles on fighting corruption related to environmental crime, and an APEC Code Against Illicit Trade (action within the ACT five-year strategic plan)
  • Strengthening public awareness campaigns around the indicators of illicit industries, especially human trafficking, so that citizens can be empowered to report crimes

More information about the APEC Pathfinder Dialogue, including speaker presentations, reports and future plans, is available here.

To learn more about our Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor program, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org