"Since corruption hurts us all, we must all unite to fight it,"
Mr. Antonio Maria Costa
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Corruption poses a serious challenge to all countries. In the political realm, it undermines democracy and good governance by flouting or even subverting formal processes. In the economy, corruption undermines entrepreneurship and discourages investment by generating considerable distortions and inefficiency. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that corruption kills development, and is one of the biggest impediments to reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
In response to this threat, UNODC is becoming increasingly active in preventing corruption. On 13 November at the Conference of States Parties in Doha, countries agreed to a mechanism to monitor implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The legally binding Convention obliges 142 countries to prevent and criminalize corruption, promote international cooperation, recover stolen assets, and improve technical assistance and information exchange. Now, all countries will be monitored every five years to see how they are living up to their obligations.
While progress is taking place globally, it is also taking place regionally. In Uzbekistan, a new anti-corruption project is set to begin in 2010. The two-year project is aimed at establishing a more solid foundation to prevent and combat corruption through effective implementation of the UNCAC. Activities such as the elaboration of a National Anti-Corruption Action Plan, the organization of practical and result-oriented workshops for public officials and civil society, of media campaigns to encourage the reporting of acts of corruption, and modules on ethics and good governance for inclusion in the training programmes for law enforcement, prosecutorial and judicial personnel, as well as in the country's education system. This wide-reaching project is the first of its kind in the region and will serve as a model for future projects in Central Asia.
This year, on International Anti-Corruption Day (9 December), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are joining forces to raise awareness about the devastating effects of corruption through the "Your NO to corruption counts!" campaign.