Every year since 2003, when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 58/4 designating December 9th as International Anti-Corruption Day, more countries have joined forces to raise awareness about corruption, and about the importance of international instruments such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption (“UNCAC”). As of this month, 164 nations have ratified the UNCAC, leaving only 30 to go before universal adoption.
In order to support the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the Convention, the UNCAC Coalition was formed in 2006. It is a global network of more than 350 civil society organizations, including international, regional and national groups, each of them focusing on issues that affect transparency and anti-corruption advocacy.
With the establishment of each new institution to enforce anti-corruption laws, important measures are being taken against corruption. Likewise, as companies headquartered or doing business in these countries become part of the anti-corruption business network, more progress is made. Compliance is becoming more effective, more focused, and more feasible for companies and their intermediaries.
This is a great and positive development – that countries, national institutions, state-owned enterprises, and private corporations and civil society organizations are embracing anti-corruption as a creed, and actively advocating in their communities. Of no less importance, however, is the involvement of ordinary people — of individuals who are tired of resources being sucked into the black hole of corruption, and who want to make their corner of the world a better place.
The grassroots groups formed by these individuals are a good measure of the depth and breadth of anti-corruption efforts around the world. In 2011, the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East helped open people’s eyes about the evils of corruption. In 2012, India’s popular movement against corruption has been widely publicized. The proliferation of on-line reporting sites, beginning with India’s ipaidabribe.com, has given a voice to people all over the world who want to shed light on corruption in their countries. Anonymous reporting sites are up and running now in Pakistan, Kenya, Greece and Zimbabwe, and will soon be operating in Mongolia and the Philippines. Government agencies all over the world have set up sites, and so have businesses private businesses and universities. In some countries, special applications have been developed for cellphones so that bribe demands can be reported anywhere, any time.
With public awareness and electronic methods of increasing transparency, enforcement of national and international anti-corruption laws is also on the rise.
All of these developments point to real progress combating corruption on every continent. Today, we celebrate this progress, and vow to continue working toward clean and transparent business throughout the world.