The common wisdom has it that "prevention is better than cure". This is particularly true for the prevention of corruption, when public trust, the effectiveness of institutions, economic development and the security of the State are at stake. Even the most successful enforcement of criminal law happens after the crime has already been committed and the detrimental consequences of corruption have taken place.

States parties take different approaches to preventing corruption. Addressing public awareness and strengthening the public intolerance to corruption as well as strengthening the integrity of the public administration are primary tools; identifying and addressing corruption risks through corruption risk assessment is becoming more and more popular.

The importance of preventing corruption is recognized in Chapter II of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. It underlines the need to address the risks of corruption by:

Adopting effective and coordinated policies against corruption

Developing a coherent anti-corruption policy which identifies the causes of corruption and commits to practical, coordinated and effective measures to address these causes is a prerequisite for success. UNODC supports the efforts of the States parties to develop anti-corruption policies by providing technical assistance for the development or review of anti- corruption strategies. Our experience is summarized in the National Anti-Corruption Strategies: A Practical Guide for Development and Implementation.

Fair and transparent system of public procurement

Establishing a procurement system, built on the principles of objectivity, transparency and competition, is important to both saving public money and to ensuring that the policy and developmental objectives of the government are met. UNODC provides assistance to States parties to strengthen their procurement systems and has developed tools to help them in achieving this important policy objective.

Strengthening the integrity of the public sector

Ensuring the public administration of the country is transparent, accountable to the citizens, free of conflicts of interest and operates on the basis of clear rules is important for the effective operation of the ministries and agencies and helps ensure the effectiveness of both civil service and law enforcement institutions in the country.

Strengthened transparency and public reporting

An informed society with free access to information is a strong deterrent to corruption. The Convention underlines the importance of transparency, public reporting and access to information in preventing corruption.

Strengthening the integrity of the judiciary and prosecution services
, addressing corruption in the private sector and promoting participation of society are other important elements of the effective system for prevention of corruption.

In 2018, UNODC launched the Global Judicial Integrity Network as a platform to provide assistance to judiciaries in strengthening judicial integrity and preventing corruption in the justice system, in line with article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Among other work, the Network creates experience-sharing and peer-support opportunities for judges and judiciaries worldwide, facilitates access to existing resources and knowledge, and addresses various existing and emerging judicial integrity-related challenges.

Through the Working Group on Prevention, UNODC collects information on the different approaches taken by States parties to prevent corruption and facilitates its exchange, thus promoting the good practices developed by the national corruption prevention services.