Message by Antonio Maria Costa,
Executive Director
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

International Anti-Corruption Day, Vienna, 9 December 2006

Corruption is not a vast impersonal force. It is a crime that involves at least two guilty parties. When money changes hands between them, we all pay the price. Since corruption affects us all, we all have a role to play in stopping it.

Companies should follow ethical business practices and live up to effective accounting and auditing standards.

Banks should cooperate with money laundering investigations to protect victims rather than shielding crooks behind secrecy laws.

Financial experts should assist each other across borders to recover stolen assets.

Development agencies should include anti-corruption conditions into their aid programmes to prevent badly needed assistance from being diverted. 

Parliaments can exercise an oversight authority to ensure that governments work effectively, particularly concerning the controls on funding of political parties and electoral campaigns. 

Independent anti-corruption agencies should keep the public sector honest.

Non-governmental organizations can be strong advocates for demanding transparency, openness and integrity.

The media can raise awareness and uncover corruption scandals.

Doctors, lawyers, bankers, and accountants should uphold the integrity of their professions by not becoming involved in the black economy.

Local governments - which are the point of delivery for many public services - should ensure openness.

International civil servants as well as religious and community leaders should lead by example. 

And concerned citizens should not become passive victims of the corrosive effects of corruption.

Around the world, intolerance of corruption is growing. Corrupt politicians and chief executives are being tried and convicted. Corrupt governments are being voted out of office.

Momentum to prevent and combat corruption can accelerate if more states accede to and implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption which came into force one year ago. As the sole global instrument for fighting corruption, it should be the backbone for all national and international anti-corruption initiatives. I urge the inaugural session of the Conference of the States Parties meeting in Jordan this week to take bold steps to ensure that this Convention lives up to expectations.

Together, we can stop corruption.