Bangkok (Thailand), 9 December 2011 - Less than two decades ago the "C" word was not used by development agencies and international financial institutions. It was considered a taboo by many governments.
Today, things are different. Ordinary citizens and, increasingly, their governments now recognize the enormous negative impact of corruption on human development. This is what is driving anti-corruption efforts in the development agenda.
As part of this wind of change, on 29 November-1 December 2011, over 3,000 delegates from developed and developing nations and emerging economies met at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Republic of Korea. Among others, their purpose was to plan how to make transparency, accountability and anti-corruption efforts a central part of the development agenda.
The forum dedicated a panel to discussing "International Corruption and Illicit Flows: What role for development cooperation?" in which UNODC highlighted its recent report "Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime".
The outcome document of the Forum emphasized the devastating impact of corruption on development, stating: "Corruption is a plague that seriously undermines development globally, diverting resources that could be harnessed to finance development, damaging the quality of governance institutions, and threatening human security. It often fuels crime and contributes to conflict and fragility."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed this conclusion in his 2011 International Anti-corruption day message: "When desperately needed development funds are stolen by corrupt individuals and institutions, poor and vulnerable people are robbed of the education, health care and other essential services."
The two UN agencies at the forefront of anti-corruption efforts - UNDP and UNODC - have developed a joint global campaign, focusing on how corruption hinders efforts to achieve the internationally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals and impacts education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development, complemented by a call for all of us to ACT against Corruption Today.
This year's International Anti-corruption Day is celebrated under the shadow cast by events across the globe - for example the Arab street - where citizens are fighting back against systems which they perceive as corrupt and serving them poorly in terms of access to justice, good governance, and transparency. It is the integrity of a country's institutions which underpins the compact of trust between a country's citizens and its government.
Anti-corruption Day-related activities in East Asia and the Pacific included the UNODC Indonesia-supported country-wide programme of anti-corruption activities 1-22 December; UNODC Viet Nam's public service announcements (PSAs) on national TV; PSAs in Thailand; and poster campaigns launched by UNODC country offices in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Many of these were in partnership with UNDP.
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is a powerful and comprehensive tool in the fight against corruption, which addresses prevention as well as law enforcement, and crucial principles like transparency and public participation in the fight against corruption. "While more countries are ratifying the UNCAC - 158 countries to-date - the challenge is to ensure the effective implementation of its provisions. That is why UNODC is stepping up its efforts in East Asia and the Pacific to assist countries in effective implementation of UNCAC," said Gary Lewis, the Regional Representative of UNODC for East Asia and the Pacific. "But as laid out in the Convention and highlighted today by the Secretary-General all of us have a personal responsibility to take action against the cancer of corruption."
To see how you can contribute to the fight against corruption go to: www.actagainstcorruption.org