Director General/Executive Director
Speech at the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative Welcome Reception and Private Dinner
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to address the World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative this evening.
I am particularly pleased because of PACI's unique nature as a forum designed by companies for companies.
The private sector has a powerful role to play in the fight against corruption and I cannot overemphasize this point.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our world is changing, or perhaps I should say evolving, and sometimes revolving.
Where once the question was to bribe or not to bribe, there is now, in the early 21 st Century, a broad consensus that bribery and corruption are no longer acceptable forms of doing business.
We have rejected the perception of corruption being a harmless, or victimless crime, and embraced the notion of a level playing field for all based on the key rules of accountability, equality, fairness, and transparency.
The UN Convention Against Corruption, which has made a real difference by changing the paradigm in both the public and the private spheres.
Now, with 159 parties, the Convention is moving towards the goal of universal adherence.
There has been significant progress with the implementation review mechanism introduced in 2010, and I am glad to say that countries are treating this seriously, but also with enthusiasm.
The efforts, successes and challenges of implementation are coming into sharp relief as more reviews are completed.
While the Convention calls for robust action to investigate and prosecute corrupt practices, preventive action in the private and public sectors is a key driver for change.
It is through sustained prevention that we will develop and strengthen a culture of zero tolerance for corruption.
This was strongly affirmed in Marrakech, at the last session of the Conference of the States Parties in October.
Heeding this call, UNODC is currently working on multiple fronts.
One of our projects aims at preventing corruption in the organization of major events, such as the Olympic Games, by developing appropriate safeguards, using UNCAC as the basic framework.
Another fundamental area for UNODC is education.
We need to educate the young on fairness and integrity today, so that we can have the ethical leaders tomorrow. Our approach is two-fold:
- First, focus on tertiary education through the development of anti-corruption curricula for law schools and business schools.
- Second, embed the values and ethics of UNCAC in younger children by teaching the values that are the bedrock of the Convention.
But the work of Governments and international organizations is not enough.
Full cooperation between the public and private sectors is fundamental.
And there are many good reasons to join in collective action. Corruption distorts markets and increases costs for companies, and ultimately for consumers.
This key role was acknowledged in the Anti-Corruption Action Plan adopted by the G-20 at its Summit in Seoul in 2010 and reaffirmed last November at the Cannes Summit.
New momentum is added this year, under the leadership of President Calderon of Mexico, with the establishment of the B20 Task Force on Improving Transparency.
UNODC has been invited and is honoured to participate in this initiative and contribute to the achievement of its objectives.
Two years ago, 100 chief executives called on governments to implement the UNCAC and to establish a robust mechanism to monitor its implementation.
Governments have delivered on the promise and the Mechanism is now fully operational. So, now comes the turn of business to translate words into deeds.
What can the private sector do?
Over the past few years, UNODC has suggested that some of the actions that business can undertake to contribute to the corruption fight in a meaningful way include the following:
- Align their practices to the Convention by developing suitable checks and balances;
- Establish a credible mechanism for the external assurance of anti-corruption performance;
- Invest in strengthening public integrity in developing countries, using the Convention as an insurance policy for business investments; and
- Invest in the supply chain. Large corporations should help small and medium sized businesses to successfully counter corruption.
As guardian of the Convention, UNODC stands ready to work with the private sector in charting the way forward. There is a lot that we can and must do together:
Tonight, I am launching a new strategic partnership, which may be called the "Integrity IPO."
As with any other IPO, we are looking for investors who will be ready to take a stake in promoting integrity through the implementation of the Convention.
We are looking for leaders in integrity willing to buy a share in a better tomorrow.
How will this work?
We are looking for companies willing to invest USD2 million each over the next four to five years.
The capital thus generated will be used for technical assistance that developing countries need to comply with the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism.
With this capital, UNODC, in partnership with other organizations, notably the World Economic Forum, will be able to help countries develop or strengthen their anti-corruption infrastructure.
Tangible results will be benchmarked and measurable in a transparent way through improved and consistent implementation of the Convention.
In other words, we will move closer to the achievement of the much desired level playing field that has so far eluded us.
For an amount that will hardly be noticeable in the balance sheets of most of you, I am offering you the opportunity to make an investment with a high return.
The Integrity IPO will be a potent insurance policy for protecting assets by investing in the integrity of your public counterparts.
The Integrity IPO will offer companies the opportunity to be integrity leaders by investing in the honesty of the global markets, while also promoting their reputation and adding to their value.
In two to three weeks, we will hold the equivalent of an investment analysts' conference call to explain the concept further to interested CEOs.
And in six weeks, UNODC will be ready to submit detailed plans and proposals to those who will express interest in participating.
To support this venture, I would be more than willing to speak at special events during board meetings and annual shareholders' conferences, if companies think it would be helpful.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I appreciate these are difficult times for everyone, especially in financial terms, but we must be vigilant.
There is a grave risk that some might be tempted to revert to questionable practices to retain market share during an unstable period.
However, it is also true that a recession is exactly the point when companies, operating in highly competitive markets, need to be assured of the fairness and equity of their business relations.
By working in partnership, by developing best practices under the Convention and by investing in the areas of the world that need our assistance, we can help to achieve these competitive, but fair, markets.
But we need to act fast, and we need to act decisively. If not, we risk the level playing field becoming an uphill struggle.