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Myanmar prepares to join UN anti-corruption framework

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), 29 October 2012
- Myanmar recently began an important step in its push to achieve full compliance with the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Parliament began work on a long-awaited Draft Anti-Corruption Law with support from UNODC and UNDP. The review is the culmination of a long process to ensure Myanmar's full compliance with UNCAC.

Myanmar signed UNCAC in 2005 but is the only country in ASEAN which has not yet ratified it. The Draft Anti-Corruption Law is a significant milestone in bringing Myanmar's legislation in compliance with international anti-corruption standards.

The process received a boost in the sidelines of a recently-convened global anti-corruption meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where UNODC organized a consultation on Myanmar's Draft Anti-Corruption Law. The Kuala Lumpur side-meeting involved members of Legal Commissions of Amyotha Hluttaw and Pyithu Hluttaw (the Upper and Lower Houses of the Parliament of Myanmar), the Deputy Attorney General of the Union, the Director-General of the Bureau of Special Investigations and their staff, regional UNODC and UNDP anti-corruption experts.

"The Myanmar delegates repeatedly stressed Myanmar's commitment to ratify and implement UNCAC in the near future" said Mr. Shervin Majlessi, UNODC Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser for East Asia and the Pacific.

Following the Kuala Lumpur meetings, UNODC and UNDP provided written comments to their Myanmar counterparts for Parliament's Draft Anti-Corruption Law, held on 18 October 2012.

The Kuala Lumpur consultation came about after a pre-ratification workshop held late September in the Myanmar capital, Nay Pyi Taw. At that workshop, senior Government of Myanmar officials expressed commitment to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). They invited UNODC and UNDP to provide legal assistance to review the Draft Anti-Corruption Law to ensure full compliance with UNCAC.

In addition to this legal support the UN partners facilitated sharing of experiences by Thailand and Bhutan counterparts during meetings in Nay Pyi Taw and Kuala Lumpur. Professor Pakdee Pothiseri, Commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption of Thailand and Dasho Neten Zangmo, Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan made presentations of their experiences in fighting corruption to Myanmar officials.

In the workshop U Aung Saw Win, Director-General of the Bureau of Special Investigation (BSI), highlighted the benefits for Myanmar of ratifying and implementing UNCAC, and pointed out that Myanmar was in the process of adopting an Anti-Corruption Law.

Director-General of the Union Attorney General Office U Kyaw San further emphasised a "strong political will to combat corruption" in Myanmar.

After Myanmar's Parliament met recently to review the country's Draft Anti-Corruption Law, Jason Eligh, UNODC Myanmar Country Manager, said there were strong indications that Myanmar has firmly committed to taking concrete and speedy steps to combat corruption.

"The current Government of Myanmar has the vision to recognize that clean, effective, trustworthy governance institutions are as critical to the sustainable development of peace and security in Myanmar as they are in any country," said Ms. Candice Welsch, Chief of the Implementation Support Section of UNODC's Corruption and Economic Crimes Branch in Vienna, who joined the Myanmar officials .

This view was echoed by Mr. Eligh. "Without an investment in rule of law institutions, the economic and social development which Myanmar citizens so desperately crave can not easily be achieved. Myanmar has signed the UN Convention on Corruption (UNCAC). It now needs to be ratified and its provisions implemented. The Government has indicated its willingness to move in the right direction on all these areas. UNODC will be there to support it."