Introduction

NOUAKCHOTT DECLARATION ON TRANSPARENCY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

WE, the Participants at the International High Level Conference on the theme “TRANSPARENCY and SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA” met in Nouakchott, Mauritania from 19 to 20 January, 2015, on the invitation of His Excellency Mohamed OULD ABDEL AZIZ, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and current Chairperson of the African Union, with the support of the African Development Bank, the European Union, Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Transparency International (TI), the United Nations Programme for Development, and the World Bank; drawn from the Public Sector, the Private Sector and Civil Society, and in the Presence of the Head of State of Mauritania, representatives from several Governments, and High Representatives of International and Regional Organizations;

REITERATE that Africa has a wealth of natural resources, including oil and gas, minerals, and also marine resources. With good governance at all levels, these natural resources can transform the lives of millions of African citizens in present and future generations. With good governance, natural resources can enable our States to create jobs, boost economic growth, reduce poverty and inequality, increase social integration and nurture sustainable development;

MINDFUL of improving governance throughout Africa, note the urgent and continued need to accelerate progress against corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and all other forms of illicit financial flows, through long-term comprehensive strategic approaches;

RECALL the existing framework of Global, Regional and Sub-Regional initiatives to fight corruption, tackle tax evasion, prevent illicit financial flows, and promote transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, including most notably:

  • The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption;
  • The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC);
  • Protocols and Conventions instituted within the various Regional Economic Communities of Africa;
  • The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions;
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations;
  • The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD);
  • African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration and more especially Chapter Three on the Code of Conduct for Public Service Agents;
  • The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI);
  • The Africa Mining Vision conceived by the African Union to ensure transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development;
  • The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (STAR);      
  • The Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST);
  • International efforts led by the OECD to limit Base Erosion and Profit shifting (BEPS) by preventing tax treaty abuse, tax avoidance and transfer-pricing;
  • The international standards on transparency and exchange of information monitored by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes;
  • The Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters;
  • The African Tax Administration Forum;
  • The Principles of the BUSAN Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation;
  • The African Union’s 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime (AIM) Strategy;
  • The 2009 Port State Measures Agreement of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO);
  • Africa Vision 2063;
  • And the Millennium Goals and post-2015 Development Agenda.

EXPRESSING our gratitude to His Excellency Mohamed OULD ABDEL AZIZ, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and current Chairperson of the African Union, to the Government and people of Mauritania for their warm welcome and generous hospitality as well as the excellent organization of this High Level Conference;

CALL ON OTHERS TO SUPPORT AND TO MATCH COMMITMENT FROM, THE GOVERNMENT OF MAURITANIA, AS CURRENT CHAIR OF THE AFRICAN UNION:

  1. To encourage the effective and transparent management of public resources by strong and well-functioning institutions, a professional and effective civil service, as well as sound budgetary and public procurement policies and the use of new technologies and instruments for the publication and analysis of fiscal data;
  2. To promote and strengthen cooperation and dialogue between Governments, Civil Society and the Private Sector, in order to build the political consensus and understanding that will be necessary to prevent and suppress corruption, money-laundering, tax evasion and illicit financial flows;
  3. To align national legal frameworks with both the UNCAC and the AU convention against corruption, to promote common definitions of corruption offenses, to stress the central role of law enforcement bodies, judicial institutions and other formal institutions of accountability in the fight against corruption, and to guarantee the rule of law, including protection of the judiciary’s independence;
  4. To call upon the African Union at its forthcoming January Summit to support presentation of the Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, and to establish an African institution or structure to coordinate the development of strategies amongst African Union countries to curb tax evasion and illicit financial flows, implementing the recommendations of the High Level Panel based on national risk assessments;
  5. To urge relevant international organizations and destination countries for illicit financial flows to view the issue of illicit financial flows as a global issue requiring comprehensive and concerted action by both countries of origin and countries of destination, to improve international cooperation by intensifying the implementation of existing standards against money laundering, in particular measures to improve customer due diligence, to ensure public availability of beneficial ownership information, to exchange information for tax purposes, and to demand financial and technical support from destination countries to tackle illicit flows;
  6. To call upon all member countries of the African Union to join the international efforts to strengthen tax transparency and exchange of information in order to prevent and detect international tax evasion, in particular by actively participating in the Africa Initiative of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes;
  7. To re-double efforts to prevent transfers of assets coming from theft, embezzlement or any other corruption-related crime, and to recover stolen assets, in order to preserve the credibility of our anti-corruption efforts and to promote sustainable economic development.  In this regard, countries should strengthen international cooperation by accepting the AU convention and UNCAC as sufficient legal basis for mutual legal assistance, and consider joining relevant networks of practitioners to facilitate collaboration and build trust;
  8. To further reaffirm support for efforts by member countries of the African Union to recover and return stolen assets, to deny safe haven to the proceeds of corruption, to implement the major regional and international anti-corruption conventions of their international asset-recovery commitments, and to initiate domestic proceedings against corrupt officials including the recovery of stolen assets;
  9. To promote transparency across different economic sectors, especially those that relate to natural resources such as minerals and fisheries, supporting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and establishing a similar initiative for the fishing industry too;
  10. To welcome the announcement by His Excellency Mohamed OULD ABDEL AZIZ, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and current Chairperson of the African Union, to launch a Fishing Industry Transparency Initiative (FITI) and to implement the initiative;
  11. To call upon the international community and multilateral system to introduce a global registry of fishing vessels based on the ready-made institutional framework of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to tackle the misuse of “flags of convenience”, and to end fishing subsidies which contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing;
  12. To make fishing permits and related procurement processes fully transparent, to ratify and implement the 2009 Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), and to rigorously enforce sanctions on vessels engaged in IUU fishing;
  13. To call upon the member countries of the African Union to  extend sufficient protection to whistleblowers in the public and private sectors, who play a key role in the prevention and detection of corruption, thus defending the public interest, and to consider such measures as necessary elements of an effective anti-corruption strategy;
  14. To uphold freedom of, and access to, information, a principle which is vital to foster openness and accountability in public policy and procurement, and to enable Civil Society, including the media, to help prevent and combat corruption and its predicate offences; and
  15. To advocate for governments to be more transparent and to develop processes and institutions that address citizen concerns and provide timely information and reliable statistics in order to promote transparency and sustainable development.

Done At Nouakchott, this Twentieth Day of January, 2015

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