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12 June 2003


United Nations and European Commission Join Forces to Curb Corruption

Hungary presents UN anti-corruption pilot project to EU experts

VIENNA, 12 June (UN Information Service) - In a workshop on preventing corruption, organised by the European Commission and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - which runs the United Nations Global Programme against Corruption (GPAC) - both institutions called for European Union strategies to build integrity and transparency and to curb corruption among current and future EU member states.

A national action plan to curb corruption in Hungary was presented yesterday to participants of the one-day workshop in Brussels within the framework of the European Forum on the prevention of organised crime. The Hungarian anti-corruption strategy - worked out as a GPAC pilot project - is intended to serve as a model for other European Union countries including newcomers from the Central and East European region. The anti-corruption measures aim at integrating national level specifics with the EU regional requirements and the United Nations global approach.

Using the case study of Hungary and presenting other approaches of the EU, the Council of Europe, the OECD, private sector and civil society representatives, the participants of the workshop looked at the utility of anti-corruption measures and policies that could be replicated by other EU countries. The participants stressed the need for those measures to be facts based, transparent, multi-partisan, comprehensive, impact oriented and to include active participation by civil society and the private sector.

In a Communication to the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament adopted earlier this month, the European Commission is advocating a comprehensive EU policy against corruption including measures within both the public and the private sector aimed at enhancing integrity and transparency and avoiding conflicts of interests situations that are seen as being mostly the source of acts of corruption.

Hungary became one of the first pilot project countries of the GPAC. The presentation of the Hungarian Government's anti-corruption action plan in Brussels was a high point of the action-learning process set by the project. The presentation came just over two months after Hungary organised a National Conference on Cleaner Public Life in late March. That two-day meeting was the first independent, national level event of the GPAC in Hungary. It was at this National Conference that a broad-based agreement was reached on key elements of a national integrity strategy and an anti-corruption action plan that was presented to the EU workshop yesterday.

The GPAC was launched by the UNODC in 1999 in collaboration with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) to assist Member States in their efforts to build integrity to curb and prevent corruption by increasing the risks and costs of abusing power for private gain. "The manifestation of corrupt practices in public life, and the lack of effective institutions to counter it, has long-term detrimental effects on sustainable development" as was stressed by UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa when he addressed the National Conference on Cleaner Public Life in Hungary.

The GPAC aims at helping Member States in preventing and controlling corruption through: advancing knowledge and expertise on anti-corruption measures and tools; providing technical assistance to build and strengthen capacities; and enhancing co-ordination and co-operation among organisations active internationally in anti-corruption policy, advocacy and enforcement. The GPAC is composed of three main components: action learning, technical co-operation, and evaluation. It provides technical co-operation at the international, national and sub-national or municipal level. It conducts pilot projects in selected countries to test new approaches and anti-corruption tools as well as run regular studies and surveys on country level corruption trends. The focus of the pilot projects is on three types of corruption: the "street-level" experience of citizens with public agencies, private sector corruption and high-level corruption in finance and politics.

The efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to work out anti-corruption standards that are comprehensive in scope and global in application are expected to reach a high point by the end of this year as Member States are to conclude a UN convention against corruption. The new global instrument is expected to cover issues such as public and private corruption, preventive measures and asset recovery as well as criminalization, international co-operation, technical assistance and monitoring of implementation.

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