Nature and Scope
Corruption has a devastating effect on democratic governance and economic development all over the world. The problem is global and no country in the world is immune against any of the various forms in which corruption manifests itself. Yet, it is of particular concern when large amounts of money and resources are diverted through corruption away from what it should serve - socio-economic development, justice and security. It is a particular concern to UNODC since South Asia is home to one fifth of the world population grappling with poverty, population growth and poor governance. Corruption has been prevalent in its multifarious forms which act as one of the serious challenges to economic development and good governance.
And it is a particular concern to South Asia, which is home to one-fifth of the world population and where countries face enormous challenges of sustainably alleviating poverty for millions of people and of meeting the universally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals in less than six years from now. Often, people believe that they are at the mercy of corruption or even that paying a bribe just belongs to a way of life or a culture in a given society and that this cannot be changed.
This is now gradually changing. In 2003, the world community adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Two years later, it entered into force and today 136 countries have ratified the Convention and with that made a commitment to comprehensively address corruption in their societies. Through this Convention, countries have now universally agreed upon comprehensive standards to criminalize and prevent corruption in their respective countries. All the countries in the region have signed the UN Convention against corruption. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives have already ratified it.
The recent adoption of UNCAC has provided a framework for governments around the world to act on the issue. It is now widely recognized that companies can support this by making a leadership commitment to "zero tolerance" on corruption and through implementation of anti-corruption programs in their own operations. Such collective self-regulatory codes of ethics can bring strict control of unethical practices while addressing the genuine concerns of the industry.
UNODC's response to corruption in South Asia
As a guardian of the UN Convention against Corruption, UNODC together with Governments, the corporate sector and the civil society in the region provides practical assistance and capacity building to develop anti-corruption policies and institutions.
UNODC has will be initiating a project under the United Nations Democracy Fund together with a NGO on rule of law, including the right to information and civil rights especially among women. It has also started to cooperate with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the implementation of the UNCAC starting with the GAP analysis in Sri Lanka.
UNODC with the Government of Maldives organized a one week skill building workshop in Male, the Maldives on how to conduct investigations and audits for government officials from various departments. A needs analysis exercise through stakeholder interviews and questionnaires to assess long term training requirements of the Maldives Anti Corruption Commission, was conducted as well in the country.
The developing world is beginning to recognize the outcomes of-anti corruption measures in the corporate sectors. In June 2009 the Global Compact Society in India hosted a two-day workshop on the benefits of greater compliance with the Global Compact's tenth principle.
The tenth principle commits UN Global Compact participants not only to avoid bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption, but also to develop policies and concrete programs to address corruption. UNODC participated at this conference being a guardian to the UNCAC.
Steps taken to address corruption in India, include the adoption of Transparency International's Integrity Pact, and the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, which mandate even private sector entities to publicly disclose certain types of information.