Asset recovery, monitoring and technical assistance are key elements
Dead Sea, Jordan 10 December 2006 – Transparency International (TI) today urged governments participating in the first international Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), to act now to ensure that the only global legal instrument to fight corruption does not remain a promise on paper.
To date, the UNCAC has been signed by 140 countries and ratified by 80. Countries meeting at the Dead Sea from 10 to 14 December will discuss how to implement provisions addressing corruption in both the public and private sectors at the national and international levels.
“It is in the interest of nations and of leaders with vision who care about making a difference, to take seriously the estimated US $1 trillion paid in bribes worldwide and start putting an end to systems that allow arbitrary discretion and abuse of power in both the public and private sectors,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. “A world of people cheated, countries looted and futures stolen, is waiting for your government’s decisions,” added Labelle.
To make UNCAC a reality, Transparency International submitted the following recommendations to the Conference:
Monitoring: The Conference should adopt a monitoring programme to be conducted transparently, with civil society involvement, to ensure that all parties meet their commitments to implement and enforce UNCAC
Asset recovery: Governments must introduce necessary legislative and institutional changes, including instructions and provision of resources to law enforcement agencies. This should include anti-money laundering measures and actions to end safe havens for stolen assets. Countries, financial institutions and authorities must collaborate closely to ensure the return of such assets. Asset recovery should be a transparent process open to input and monitoring by civil society.
Technical assistance: The international donor community must fund technical assistance in order to enable developing countries to implement the Convention.
Protection of whistleblowers: Governments must incorporate UNCAC provisions to protect whistleblowers into national legal systems for those reporting corruption offences. Lack of a free press and proper rule of law would diminish these measures.
Access to information: Monitoring states’ compliance with and implementation of UNCAC must involve transparent processes and access to information. Governments should allow access in the interest of showing progress, identifying weaknesses and fighting the secrecy that aids corruption.
“Millions of people the world over are increasingly frustrated by having to grease palms to get something done. They are tired of being cheated. This Convention, if implemented properly, can deal with the secretive and often complex nature of corruption, which otherwise creates gaping holes in the systems which should protect people,” said TI Chief Executive David Nussbaum from the Conference.
Much of UNCAC is not self executing and failure to approve an appropriate monitoring programme would greatly undermine the Convention. UNCAC requires countries to criminalise a wide range of acts including bribery, embezzlement of public funds, money-laundering and obstruction of justice. Because corruption is a global threat, only a global instrument will fully address it. Countries with the political will now have a way to fulfil their anti-corruption commitments.