The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is organising a two day Conference on the Implications of Illicit Financial Flows on the Right to Development in Africa. The Conference will bring together participants from a wide range of stakeholders including African governments, policymakers, representatives from AU institutions, international organisations, civil society organisations, academics, researchers and private sector representatives to raise awareness, examine causes, explore the human rights dimension, share research findings, and foster cooperation in combating IFFs. These objectives collectively aim to drive action and generate sustainable solutions to curtail IFFs and redirect resources towards inclusive and sustainable development in Africa.
Over the years, Africa has been working towards achieving AU Agenda 2063, which is the continent’s strategic framework for inclusive and sustainable development. This is also aligned with the 2030 UN agenda on sustainable development. However, to achieve these goals, financing remains a core determinant. The African Commission has been mindful of the resource constraints of state parties as a major obstacle to their ability to fulfil their human rights obligations, particularly rights related to the social and economic well-being of people. Thus, African countries have been tasked with sourcing for additional domestic funding to supplement the official development assistance that is credited to developed donor countries. Illicit financial flows (IFFs) have been identified as a major factor contributing to Africa’s poverty and deprivation despite its vast endowment of natural resources, talented people and fertile land. IFFs are a global phenomenon that have a significant impact on Africa, affecting resource mobilization and the amount of revenue a government collects and must spend on social and economic development. Illicit financial flows are not only an economic, developmental and tax issue but also have a direct impact on a state’s ability to implement its human rights obligations. The Addis Ababa Agenda for Action, 2015 identified that the elimination of IFFs will ensure that resources lost through such outflows are redirected to development. It is noted that Africa loses 88.6 billion USD to IFFs and if these resources are directed to development, its dependency on donor aid will also be curbed. Furthermore, the Africa Union Agenda 2063 also recognizes that by eliminating all forms of IFFs, more domestic resources would be directed to all sectors of development.
As such in 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) adopted Resolution 236, calling on its Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa and the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa to ‘undertake an in-depth study on the impact of illicit capital flight on human rights in Africa’. The Centre for Human Rights undertook a research study to support Resolution 236 and the findings of the study will be shared during this conference. A rights- based approach, located within the framework of international human rights norms and standards, clearly distinguishes rights holders and duty bearers and sets out obligations that duty bearers have to rights holders. Moreover, clearly defined international human rights norms and standards provide rights holders with a solid foundation upon which to demand that states take concrete, tangible and deliberate action to curtail illicit financial flows.
Tackling IFFs needs cooperation between countries as the cross-border nature of the financial flows makes it a shared concern. The African human rights system is well placed to lead the human rights fight against illicit financial flows from Africa as it includes solidarity and collective rights in the African Charter. These collective rights address issues of solidarity, self-determination and disposal of wealth and natural resources in the interests of the peoples of Africa.
It is from this perspective that the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is organising a 2 day Conference on the Implications of Illicit Financial Flows on the Right to Development in Africa. The Conference will bring together participants from a wide range of stakeholders including African governments, policymakers, representatives from AU institutions, international organisations, civil society organisations, academics, researchers and private sector representatives to raise awareness, examine causes, explore the human rights dimension, share research findings, and foster cooperation in combating IFFs. These objectives collectively aim to drive action and generate sustainable solutions to curtail IFFs and redirect resources towards inclusive and sustainable development in Africa.
The objectives of the Conference are:
- To raise awareness about the detrimental impact of illicit financial flows (IFFs) on the right to development in Africa.
The goal of this objective is to raise participants’ understanding of the harmful effects of IFFs on Africa’s development efforts. It will demonstrate how IFFs deplete important resources in African countries, resulting in poverty, inequality, and deprivation of basic social and economic rights. The conference hopes to develop a sense of urgency and commitment among stakeholders to solve IFFs successfully by raising awareness.
- To examine the underlying causes and drivers of illicit financial flows in Africa
This goal strives to dive into the underlying causes of IFFs in Africa, such as corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and illicit trading practices. The conference seeks to gain a complete understanding of the complex mechanisms that enable IFFs and identify crucial areas for intervention by understanding these causes.
- To explore the intersection between illicit financial flows, human rights and the right to development
This objective will examine the direct impact of IFFs on human rights in Africa, namely the right to development. It will investigate how IFFs impair states’ ability to meet their human rights duties and stymie progress in areas such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and poverty reduction. The conference hopes to create a rights-based approach by emphasizing the human rights dimension. to addressing IFFs.
- To share research findings and best practices in combating illicit financial flows.
The purpose of this objective is to convey the findings of the research study undertaken by the Centre for Human Rights in support of African Commission Resolution 236. The conference will provide a forum for scholars, professionals, and practitioners to discuss their knowledge, experiences, and best practices in dealing with IFFs. This information sharing will add to a collective understanding of effective tactics and interventions to combat IFFs in Africa.
- To foster regional and international cooperation in addressing illicit financial flows.
Recognizing the transnational nature of IFFs, this goal seeks to foster collaboration among African countries, international organizations, civil society, and other stakeholders. The conference will facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences, and activities targeted at addressing IFFs by providing a forum for debate and collaboration. The conference intends to increase collective efforts to solve this critical issue by strengthening regional and worldwide cooperation.