Governments must be held to account in global fight against corruption – UN

23 October 2006

Addressing the newly formed International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, the United Nations top crime fighter has urged the world’s anti-corruption officials to hold their governments to account for the promises they have made to tackle the scourge.

Addressing the newly formed International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, the United Nations top crime fighter has urged the world’s anti-corruption officials to hold their governments to account for the promises they have made to tackle the scourge.

“The founding of this Association is the latest demonstration of the world’s eagerness to put kleptocratic government officials and greedy business leaders behind bars,” UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told a gathering of over 500 anti-corruption officials from more than 120 countries yesterday in Beijing.

“The Association born at this crucial Beijing meeting has to become a strong international network of anti-corruption top-guns, as I like to nick-name you all. The Association will enable peers to come together to compare experiences and exchange good practices. Your work is highly honourable and will be crucial in implementing the UN Convention against Corruption.”

The Convention, which came into force last December, provides the first legally binding global instrument requiring States to return money and other assets obtained through corruption to the country from which they were stolen. It also includes preventive steps to detect plundering of national wealth as it occurs and will affect private sector corruption since a good amount of such crime involves the bribing of officials.

Mr. Costa said the Convention was a powerful tool for the prevention and criminalization of corruption, a major obstacle to development in poor countries, if governments chose to implement it. “There should be no safe havens for dirty money,” he stressed.

“It would be naive to think that we can rid the world of corruption just because the United Nations has agreed to a Convention,” he added. “But we can certainly reduce the impact of dishonest behaviour on governments, economies and ordinary citizens, counting on the Convention’s robust legal and operational measures.”

UNODC is custodian of the Convention, which has so far been ratified by 68 countries. Among key elements, Mr. Costa highlighted integrity of the judiciary, effective accounting standards, a domestic regulatory framework for financial institutions, controls on donations to political parties and financial disclosure by public officials.

 

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