Some 148 government representatives meet in Austria at the conference of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, hoping to identify gaps in national anti-corruption laws, plug financial malpractice and protect public funds from embezzlement. The conference comes as financial watch-dogs, such as Transparency International, warn that graft, and public acceptance levels of it, are at an all-time high.
Following on from meetings in Jordan, Indonesia and Qatar, the fourth UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) will seek to adopt internationally enforceable, tough prohibitions against crimes that threaten financial and political stability. UNCAC's Implementation Review Group are tackling issues that effectively amount to a 20 per cent tax on global investment annually, according to estimates from the World Bank that put the size of the problem at US $1 trillion (in bribes) every year. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says national leaders must recognise that ending corruption is ultimately in everyone's interest: "Corruption acts as a hidden overhead charge that drives up prices and erodes quality without any benefit to producers or consumers. Preventing corruption makes good business sense.'; Formed in 2003, UNCAC is the only legally-binding global anti-corruption instrument in the world at the moment, with much sharper teeth than many of its UN-backed organizational cousins. The mandatory character of many of its provisions could make some in-roads into graft, particularly in the five main areas of identifying responsibility, promoting prevention mechanisms, recommending criminalization and law enforcement measures, encouraging international cooperation, and, most importantly of all, enforcing asset recovery. Written Dec 2010 by NewsAhead correspondent Lawrence Smallman
Date written/update: 2011-06-23