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UNGASS 2021: Commit to transparency in company ownership for the common good
by Transparency International, agencies
24 Feb. 2021
Transparency in company ownership is more than a technical solution to a problem. It is a matter of social justice.
On International Anti-Corruption Day 2020, a group of leading economists, trade unions and civil society organisations tackling issues from human rights, to poverty, to business integrity, came together to call for an end to the abuse of anonymous companies.
Since then, more than 700 signatories from 120 countries have joined the call for the UN General Assembly Special Session against Corruption, UNGASS 2021, to commit all countries to set up central, public registers of beneficial ownership.
The UN General Assembly’s decision to hold a Special Session against Corruption in 2021 created a historic opportunity for the international community to address the global crisis of corruption.
The undersigned groups and individuals are united in the conviction that it is of the utmost urgency for the UNGASS 2021 to put an end to the abuse of anonymous companies and other legal vehicles that facilitate cross-border corruption and other crimes.
We are calling on the UNGASS 2021 to commit to making centralised, public beneficial ownership registers a global standard.
Companies that exist only on paper, exploiting our legal systems and concealing their ultimate ownership, are tools for the diversion of critical resources needed to advance sustainable development and collective security.
For decades, as scandal after scandal has demonstrated, anonymous shell companies have been used to divert public funds, channel bribes and conceal ill-gotten gains, as part of corruption and money laundering schemes stretching across borders.
Beneficial ownership information – information on the natural persons who ultimately own, control or benefit from a legal vehicle – enables cross-border enforcement and the tracing of ill-gotten assets for confiscation and return.
In public contracting processes, it helps in the detection of conflicts of interest and corruption. It also makes it easier for businesses to carry out due diligence, helps them know who their partners and customers are and meet reporting obligations.
A central, public register of companies and their ultimate beneficial owners – in addition to information on legal ownership and directors – is the most effective and practical way to record such information and facilitate timely access for all stakeholders.
We have come together to address government leaders currently preparing for UNGASS 2021 with one voice and one clear message:
The “concise and action-oriented political declaration” to be adopted by the General Assembly should commit all countries to establish central, public registers of beneficial ownership as the new global standard. This should be supplemented with efforts to verify the collected information in order to ensure the accuracy and reliability of beneficial ownership data.
Transparency in company ownership is more than a technical solution to a problem. It is a matter of social justice.
Corruption devastates the lives of billions of people around the world, while its deadliness has become all the more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.
With only ten years left to achieve the 2030 Agenda targets, we need decisive reforms to ensure that the resources needed to pay for critical public services such as schools and hospitals are not simply misappropriated and hidden away in tax havens or property markets abroad.
Centralised, public registers of beneficial ownership as a global standard is precisely that kind of change. The time for action is now.
“All parts of our societies around the world have spoken. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from indigenous peoples’ groups to tax justice advocates, from distinguished diplomats to multi-national companies, we all agree: anonymous companies are vehicles for corruption and other illicit practices that jeopardise the common good. We are asking country representatives preparing for the UNGASS 2021 to heed this call for urgent action,” said Gillian Dell, Head of Conventions Unit at Transparency International.
Numerous investigative reports and scandals have shown that anonymous companies enable and fuel corruption and other financial crimes.
The recent OpenLux investigations highlighted the power of public registers of beneficial ownership for identifying suspicions of money laundering, corruption, tax evasion and other criminal activity.
Maíra Martini, Research and Policy Expert at Transparency International said: “In recent years, many countries have made progress towards ending the abuse of anonymous companies – most recently the United States. But, as our campaign shows, there is an overwhelming consensus that fundamental fixes are necessary across the board.
Criminals and the corrupt must have nowhere to hide their ill-gotten loot. This means universal adoption of public beneficial ownership registers, based on a robust definition of beneficial ownership and accompanied by strong verification processes.”

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Impacts of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition
by UN Committee on World Food Security (HLPE)
Jan. 2020
Impacts of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition. (Committee on World Food Security - High Level Panel of Experts)
The COVID-19 pandemic that has spread rapidly and extensively around the world since late 2019 has had profound implications for food security and nutrition. The unfolding crisis has affected food systems1and threatened people’s access to food via multiple dynamics.
We have witnessed not only a major disruption to food supply chains in the wake of lockdowns triggered by the global health crisis, but also a major global economic slowdown.
These crises have resulted in lower incomes and higher prices of some foods, putting food out of reach for many, and undermining the right to food and stalling efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: “Zero hunger.” The situation is fluid and dynamic, characterized by a high degree of uncertainty.
According to the World Health Organization, the worst effects are yet to come. Most health analysts predict that this virus will continue to circulate for a least one or two more years.
The food security and nutrition risks of these dynamics are serious. Already, before the outbreak of the pandemic, according to the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition report, some two billion people faced food insecurity at the moderate or severe level. Since 2014, these numbers have been climbing. The COVID-19 pandemic is undermining efforts to achieve SDG2.
The complex dynamics triggered by the lockdowns intended to contain the disease are creating conditions for a major disruption to food systems, giving rise to a dramaticincrease in hunger. The most recent estimates indicate that between 132 million additional people—including 80 million people in low-income countries that rely on food imports will experience food insecurity as a direct result of the pandemic.
At least 25 countries, including Lebanon, Yemen and South Sudan, are at risk of significant food security deterioration because of the secondary socio-economic impacts of the pandemic (FAO and WFP, 2020). In Latin America, the number of people requiring food assistance has almost tripledin 2020.
Food productivity couldalso be affected in the future, especially if the virus is not contained and the lockdown measures continue.
The purpose of this issues paper, requested by the Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), is to provide insights in addressing the food and nutrition security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Access the report (25pp):
* 47th meeting of the UN Committee on World Food Security (Feb. 21):
* Right to Food: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri:

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