Skip to main content

New UN initiative seeks private sector involvement to fight corruption

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

New UN initiative seeks private sector involvement to fight corruption

A new United Nations initiative seeks to involve private businesses in helping developing countries tackle corruption and strengthen their ability to fight it.

“Corruption has a disproportionate impact on poor communities and a corrosive effect on the fabric of societies across the globe,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, said at an event on the sidelines of the 21st Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria. “It is vital that we encourage business to play their part in the fight against corruption and take action to promote integrity.”

Under the Integrity Initial Public Offering (IPO) initiative, to be launched during the session later this week, private companies and investors can contribute financially to support efforts to develop anti-corruption legislation and institutions in developing countries.

The initiative was created in partnership with other organizations, among them the World Economic Forum, as a way for the private sector to show its commitment to addressing corruption, which adds up to ten per cent to the costs of doing business in some parts of the world.

“I urge business leaders and investors to buy a share in a better tomorrow by joining the Integrity Initial Public Offering and show their resolve to help create a fair and level playing field for everyone in business,” Mr. Fedotov said.

According to UNODC, the Integrity IPO is grounded in the UN Convention against Corruption, which is the world’s only universal anti-corruption legal instrument. Through the Integrity IPO, the agency plans to improve anti-corruption legislation and regulatory frameworks, strengthen action plans for anti-corruption programmes, provide better training to government staff to effectively implement policies, and have more transparent, fair and accountable public procurement systems.

Also at the Commission’s 21st Session today, UNODC’s Fedotov and his counterpart at the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO), Taleb Rifai, pledged to stamp out human trafficking in the tourism sector through joint efforts, following the signing yesterday of a memorandum of understanding to step up cooperation against this form of exploitation.

"Today, our two organizations are conveying a strong message to the world that we will not be party to activities that exploit women and children," said Mr. Fedotov.

According to the two agencies, one billion tourists – or one in seven of the world’s population –will travel abroad in 2012, and the sector is expanding. While this expansion drives economic growth, job creation and development, there is evidence that the tourism infrastructure is also being used for the exploitation of and trafficking in persons – and children are especially vulnerable.

“We are here to reiterate the tourism sector’s commitment to combating human trafficking, an unacceptable affront to human rights and dignity, and to set out clear steps for stronger cooperation in fighting one of the most dreadful crimes of our time,” said Mr. Rifai.

Victims of trafficking are most often enslaved for sexual purposes, but they can also be found in kitchens or cleaning guesthouses, restaurants and bars, according to UNODC. Tourism infrastructure can, in turn, create markets for forced and exploitative begging and street hawking.

Mr. Fedotov said the tourism sector can and should play a vital role in preventing human trafficking linked to tourism, including sexual exploitation. Codes of conducts for tourism companies have been developed and laws enacted that allow for the prosecution in their homeland of tourists who engage in sexual conduct with children. These efforts need to be strengthened and built upon, he added.

Acting as the governing body of UNODC, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice guides UN activities in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, and also reviews UN standards and norms in this area. The theme of this year’s session is violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families, but it will also discuss State oversight in civilian private security services, countering maritime piracy, and the treatment of prisoners, amongst other issues.