On 31 October 2003, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties (resolution 58/4). 

The Assembly also designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.  The Convention entered into force in December 2005.

Today, 9th December 2011, the  Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon made this statement:

Corruption afflicts all countries, undermining social progress and breeding inequality and injustice.

When desperately needed development funds are stolen by corrupt individuals and institutions, poor and vulnerable people are robbed of the education, health care and other essential services.

Although the poor may be marginalized by corruption, they will not be silenced. In events across the Arab world and beyond this year, ordinary people have joined their voices in denouncing corruption and demanding that governments combat this crime against democracy. Their protests have triggered changes on the international scene that could barely have been imagined just months previously.

All of us have a responsibility to take action against the cancer of corruption.

The United Nations is helping countries combat corruption as part of our broader, system-wide campaign to help bolster democracy and good governance.

The United Nations Convention Against Corruption is a powerful tool in the fight. I urge all governments that have not yet ratified it to do so without delay. I also call on governments to include anti-corruption measures in all national programmes that support sustainable development.

The private sector, too, stands to gain enormously from effective action. Corruption distorts markets, increases costs for companies and ultimately punishes consumers. Companies can create a more transparent global economy through anti-corruption initiatives, including the work of the United Nations Global Compact.

On this International Anti-Corruption Day, let us pledge to do our part by cracking down on corruption, shaming those who practice it and engendering a culture that values ethical behaviour.

Transparency International UK has also today made this press release about the state of anticorruption laws in the UK :

Much more must be done by the Government to tackle the role that UK banks and companies play in fuelling and facilitating corruption overseas, according to a new report launched on International Anti-Corruption Day (9 Dec) by the Bond Anti-Corruption Group, whose members include leading UK-based international development organisations.

Melissa Lawson, Chair of the Bond Anti-Corruption Group and Tearfund policy adviser said: “The failure to act here in the UK when it comes to enforcing bribery laws and tackling dirty money has devastating effects on developing countries, undermining good governance and exacerbating poverty. This report shows why the UK must not remain ambivalent when it comes to addressing the real issues in the fight against corruption.”

The report notes improvements in the UK’s compliance with some of its commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption, but identifies a series of weaknesses:

• The Ministry of Justice guidance on the new UK Bribery Act is unclear, creating potential loopholes and confusion for business.

• The Serious Fraud Office has too few resources to ensure the bribery legislation is a real deterrent to stop companies paying huge bribes to foreign governments in return for lucrative contracts.

• According to the Financial Services Authority, 75% of British banks that were surveyed don’t know the source of the funds of their high-risk customers, leaving the UK wide open to corrupt funds.

• The UK fails to exert pressure on secrecy jurisdictions in Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to publish company registries.

“The laws are there to tackle corruption but there is complacency in the face of growing corruption threats,” says Eric Gutierrez, Senior Governance Adviser at Christian Aid and one of the report’s authors. “The Government’s International Anti-Corruption Champion must instigate an anti-corruption strategy and ensure that there are sufficient resources to tackle this issue.”

The Bond Anti-Corruption Group welcomed the Bribery Act of 2010, but now calls on the Government to:

• Ensure sufficient resources for enforcing the Bribery Act

• Enforce its own anti-money laundering laws to ensure UK banks do not accept corrupt money and facilitate corruption

• Extend the UN Convention against Corruption and UK Bribery Act to all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.

• Produce a transparent cross-government anti-corruption strategy under the responsibility of UK Anti-Corruption Champion, Rt Hon Ken Clarke MP.

Welcoming the report, Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption said: “International Anti-Corruption Day provides the UK Government with the perfect opportunity to commit to tackling the obstacles identified if Britain is to play its part in addressing international corruption. We need a coherent, properly-resourced approach to dealing with this issue, which causes suffering to millions of people in the developing world, and threatens to undermine the important investment the UK makes in international development.”

We should just add that every day is an anticorruption day at the BriberyLibrary!