Illicit financial flows are by definition a cross-border phenomenon requiring international cooperation, particularly between developing countries of the global south, experts said at a meeting in Nairobi.
Potential common solutions to the scourge of illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another were discussed by representatives of developing countries, intergovernmental bodies including UNCTAD and civil society organizations at the Pan-Continental Southern Dialogue on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs): Challenges and Opportunities for Southern Cooperation in Nairobi, Kenya on 21–22 November 2018.
IFFs are a significant drain on developing country finances and the United Nations Secretary-General’s 2018–2021 Strategy for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for action to “address challenges in international taxation that complicate their domestic resource mobilization efforts, including dealing with illicit financial flows, tax evasion, tax transparency and base erosion and profit shifting.”
Dialogue at the Nairobi event touched on such issues as effective national and regional interventions, the role of international cooperation – particularly South-South cooperation, methodological options to measure this phenomenon, and other potential ways to tackle the problem.
- UN Development Account Project 1819Y: Defining, estimating and disseminating statistics on illicit financial flows in Africa
UNCTAD experts highlighted the crucial importance of indicators for monitoring IFFs. More than total magnitudes, what is required is disaggregated information on the types of IFFs and the channels they take to flow out of the countries, experts said.
Disaggregation would help the design of targeted policies at the national and regional levels to reduce these flows. UNCTAD also reviewed potential measurement methodologies and their applicability in developing countries.
Also, UNCTAD highlighted the progress of its programme on the measurement of IFFs and its planned activities to pilot these methodologies in some developing countries. This work supports the monitoring of these flows and provides additional tools for developing countries so that they can meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
The meeting was organized by the Financial Transparency Coalition, in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation.