Marrakech/Vienna. 28 October 2011. The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov told the closing session of the UN's Anti-Corruption Conference in Morocco today that states must "heed the call" of the Arab Spring which had become a symbol for the anti-corruption movement.
The rapid reforms sparked by the Arab Spring had placed anti-corruption at the heart of the democratic agenda he said. "We must help individuals live in countries where prosecutions of instances of corruption are fair and where a citizen's daily interaction with the state and commerce are firmly anchored in professionalism, honesty and integrity," the UNODC Chief told the closing of the Fourth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Marrakech.
"The Arab Spring with its emphatic rejection of corruption must last longer than only a single season," Mr. Fedotov said, "We ignore its lessons at our peril."
The conference has adopted the "Marrakech Declaration on Prevention of Corruption" which calls on states to do more to prevent corruption and it recognizes that corruption is a serious impediment to reducing poverty and endangers the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Executive Director of UNODC Yury Fedotov in a speech delivered by the Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs, John Sandage, welcomed the adoption of the Marrakech Declaration which recognizes the urgent need to share experiences and best practices in preventing corruption before it takes root. "We have gained a far greater understanding of the consequences if we fail," he said, "We have heard how corruption imperils the Millennium Development Goals, undermines the delivery of public services, and facilitates other crimes."
The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) with 155 States Parties, has nearly reached universal ratification. It is the only international legal instrument to fight corruption and entered into force in December 2005. The Convention obliges States to prevent and criminalize corruption; to promote international cooperation; to recover stolen assets and to improve technical assistance and information exchange in both the private and public sectors.
One of the most important parts of UNCAC is the peer review mechanism, the first of its kind for such a Convention, under which all countries are monitored to check how they are living up to their obligations under the Convention. The reviews aim to identify good practices and challenges in national anti-corruption laws and practices. Twenty six countries have participated in the first year and a further 41 countries are undergoing a review in the second year.
Mr. Fedotov said work on the peer review mechanism had been a challenge in the two years since it was agreed in Doha but a firm foundation was being built for the future. "The defining feature of our journey from Doha to Marrakech has been the realization that we cannot succeed in isolation," he said. "Others must join us and we must all walk together if we are to combat corruption wherever it arises."
One of its successes was to highlight where technical assistance was needed which could then help countries to implement the Convention effectively.
The conference has resolved the complex question of observer participation in the review mechanism and has taken steps towards ensuring that civil society can begin to effectively and appropriately contribute to the maximization of the benefits to be derived from the review mechanism. Mr. Fedotov stressed the importance of having governments, the private sector, parliamentarians, anti-corruption authorities, civil society organizations, young people and the media cooperating in rejecting corruption at every level of society.
The recovery of stolen public assets has also been widely discussed during the week and the conference agreed to work to removing barriers to asset recovery. This is a particularly important issue for many developing countries where high-level corruption has plundered the national wealth and where resources are badly needed for reconstruction and the rehabilitation of societies.
The Conference had established itself as the main event of the anti-corruption movement Mr. Fedotov said, as was shown by the well-attended 20 side events on the margins of the conference. At the general discussion earlier in the week, there were 84 speakers including high level representatives from more than 30 countries.
The Conference of States Parties attracted more than 1000 delegates from 129 countries, as well as representatives of civil society, international organizations, parliaments, the media, anti-corruption authorities and the private sector. A large number of senior level company officials attended demonstrating their commitment to build strong corporate compliance cultures and acknowledging that the Convention is a key instrument for building a level-playing field for global competition, requiring action by multi-national enterprises and by Governments.
Mr. Fedotov again urged every Member State which has not yet done so to join the Convention.
The Executive Director commended the President of the Conference, the Moroccan Minister of Public Sector Modernization, Mohamed Saad El Alami for his leadership during the week and thanked the participants for their hard work and dedication.
The next Conference of the States Parties, the Fifth Session will be held in Panama City in 2013. The Russian Federation has successfully bid to hold the Sixth Session in 2015.
Conference website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
Conference website of the Host Country: http://www.cosp4.ma/
David Dadge, Spokesperson and Speechwriter: UNODC
M: (+43) 699-1459-5629 | E: david.dadge[at]unvienna.org
Anne Thomas, Information Officer: United Nations Information Service - Vienna
M: (+43) 699-1459-5588 | E: anne.thomas[at]unvienna.org