Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría
OECD, Paris - 26 April 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the OECD. Welcome to the Ministerial Conference on the “Fight against Terrorist Financing: The Other War against Daesh and Al Qaeda” called by President Macron.
The OECD was forged by its members out of the destruction of World War II to promote peace and security through sustainable and inclusive economic growth. These are not just worthy goals, but necessary conditions for a safer world.
Yet, in recent years, we have witnessed violent terrorist attacks, including here in Paris which are not only a human tragedy but also a direct attack on the values we hold dear as free,democratic, law-abiding, pluralistic societies.
None of us is immune to the threat of terrorism. In 2016, OECD countries experienced the most deaths from terrorism since 2001, with a 67% increase in attacks and a nearly 600% increase in deaths from terrorism since 2014. This is not a poor country problem; this is not a rich country problem. This is not a European or an African problem.
Nearly 80 delegations are here today to commit to fighting terrorist financing.
In doing so, we carry forward the momentum of recent years, including last year’s G7 and G20 statements against terrorism and terrorist financing.
The question, today, is how.
First: strengthen cooperation and improve transparency. We need to build the capacity of law enforcement and facilitate cooperation between agencies and across borders. The corrupt, tax evaders and terrorists share the same methods and vehicles to hide and transfer money.
The OECD can help. Our global law enforcement networks meet regularly to promote and strengthen co-operation across agencies and across borders. Our Task Force on Tax Crimes and Other Crimes is home of the Oslo Dialogue, which brings together enforcement authorities from around the world to fight serious financial crimes that facilitate terrorist financing. We have also developed a global standard on the regular and automatic exchange of financial account information that is now being implemented in more than 100 jurisdictions! This means that financial account ownership information is more transparent and harder to hide. With FATF, we are making real progress on ensuring the transparency of beneficial ownership—a critical element in efforts to counter terrorist financing.
Call on these networks to strengthen the ability of your officials to stem terrorist financing.
Second: We need to take a holistic approach to tackle the various sources of terrorist financing, including bribery, trafficking, extortion and kidnapping, to name just a few.
Third: We must understand the environments that facilitate terrorism and terrorist financing. Yes, terrorism exploits grey areas, but it equally exploits hopelessness. An OECD study of illicit financial flows and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) found that, a large share of the regional population became reliant on AQIM as a source of income—for example, through the group’s establishment of training camps, paying salaries, and bribing community members. As a result, this enhanced perceptions of AQIM’s legitimacy and strengthened AQIM’s interest in illegal activities. We must make it harder for terrorists and their supporters to take root by preventing violent extremism and supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Finally: We cannot work in a vacuum. So-called ‘grassroots terrorism’ is nearly impossible to predict through traditional law enforcement mechanisms. We must engage non-government stakeholders in this fight.
The private sector should be expected—and empowered—to join this fight. We must ensure that businesses are taking the steps necessary to mitigate the risk of financing terrorism. Many governments are already using the OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals can help address this challenge as a basis for communicating their expectations of corporations in this regard.
Global forums like this one, and international organisations like mine, can support governments in taking a holistic, multilateral approach against terrorism and terrorist financing. This is the value strong and responsible multilateralism brings; this is the core message of this year’s OECD Meeting of Ministers, championed by this year’s Chair, France. This is the spirit we bring to all of our work: To strengthen capacity, to improve cooperation, to connect the dots, and to be inclusive. This is our approach, for example, on combating corruption, which we outline in the newly released OECD Strategic Approach to Combating Corruption and Promoting Integrity. And it is this experience that we offer to share with you, our partners and co-collaborators in the fight against terrorism financing and related crimes.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, we recognise these challenges. We are here because we are committed to overcoming them. You can count on the OECD to play its part.