The United Nations Convention against Corruption can play a key role in building trust in the Iraqi Government and help the country achieve its security and development goals, the head of the world body’s anti-crime agency told an international meeting in Baghdad.
In his keynote address, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), urged Iraq to quickly ratify and implement the Convention, stressing that it will “send a message of commitment to public accountability.”
Adherence to the international treaty will also “help achieve the country’s highest priorities: national reconciliation, security and governance,” he added.
Organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and chaired by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, the two-day gathering that began yesterday brought together senior Iraqi officials and international partners to discuss good governance and anti-corruption measures in the context of the International Compact with Iraq – the five-year peace and development plan launched last May.
“Public tolerance of corruption is running out, in Iraq and elsewhere,” Mr. Costa noted, adding that the scourge is not just a financial issue, but also destroys trust in public institutions, robs a country of its development, deprives the poor of basic services, funds violence and terrorism, and empowers organized crime.
He urged Iraqi authorities to agree on an overall national anti-corruption strategy as soon as possible, as well as to set up an effective financial intelligence unit to combat money laundering and incentive schemes to reward whistleblowers.
The Iraqi Government has taken the first steps toward ratifying the treaty, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2003 and currently has 109 State Parties.