Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries; undermining democratic institutions, slowing economic development and contributing to governmental instability.
Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of corruption.
On 31 October 2003, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties (resolution 58/4).
The Assembly also designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it. The Convention entered into force in December 2005 and is observed on December 9 each year
Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the media and citizens around the world are joining forces to fight this crime. The UNDP and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are at the forefront of these efforts.
Corruption is an issue that affects all countries around the world. It refers, inter alia, to conduct, behaviour, attitude that displays, undermines, evidences a lack of integrity or honesty. It also refers to those who use a position of power or trust for dishonest gain.
Corruption undermines democracy, creates unstable governments, and sets countries back economically. It comes in various forms such as bribery, law-breaking including unfairly amending election processes and results etc.
By resolution 58/4 of October 31, 2003, the UN General Assembly designated December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day. This decision aims to raise people’s awareness of corruption and of the role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it.
International Anti Corruption Day is observed on 9th December annually, the world over. The main objective of the day is to reaffirm the commitment of United Nations and member states in fighting corruption at home and as well as across borders, and ultimately, to eliminate corruption to make way for a prosperous and content society, across the geographical boundaries.
The first concrete step towards fighting international corruption came up when the United Nations passed the UNCAC (United Nations Convention Against Corruption) in December 2003. UNCAC is a treaty between UN member states, signed on 9th December and came into effect from 14th December 2005. The treaty legally binds the member states to take steps towards reducing corruption and enforcing law and order.
These steps include (i) steps for the prevention of corruption. (ii) Enforcing law and order.
iii) Cooperating internationally for reducing corruption. (iv)Asset recovery and its return to the Country of origin. (v) Providing technical assistance and information exchange.
Presently 186 states are party to the treaty which includes 140 signatories and 30 ratifications; along with Non-UN Member states.
The headquarters of the UNCAC are located in Merida in Mexico and New York.
THE NEED FOR AN INTERNATIONAL ANTI CORRUPTION DAY
There have been many factors that led to the formation of a common international platform to fight corruption and observe a day dedicated to the cause to create awareness among the members of government and general public.
Corruption is the most potent threat to the United Nations sustainable development goals of 2030.
The total amount of money that is lost due to corruption is disturbing and requires immediate preventive measures if the sustainable development goal is to be achieved. According to an annual estimate by the United Nations, 3.6 trillion dollars are paid in bribe and stolen globally through corruption; which equals to more than 5% of global GDP.
The effects of corruption are long lasting as generations after generations face poverty, deprivation, unemployment and illiteracy; which have been the results of corruption. Corruption drains the economy of a nation, making the poor getting poorer and vulnerable in the absence of basic amenities like health, education, water, electricity, etc.
Corruption is the major hindrance to the growth of a developing or a developed nation. Corruption restrains growth and also deteriorates law and order situation.
The money shunted by illegal means results in deteriorating health, education and falling general economy of a nation. It also restricts the industrial growth by discouraging new startups; which find it impossible to do business because of increased cost due to corruption.
If left unnoticed the corruption turns the bureaucracy of a state into the breeding ground for corrupt and illegal practices; where the whole motive behind the existence of bureaucracy becomes to solicit bribe by providing individual benefits including bribery and bureaucratic favours, influencing electoral process, disturbing law and order, drug trafficking, human trafficking, giving unjust favour even without money and influencing the judicial process are also considered as crime.
A common unison of nations against international corruption was much needed, mainly in the cases of high level corruption; where, money or assets thus collected through corrupt practices are kept in a foreign nation where the law of the land permits it. The UNCAC provides an agreement for the recovery of such asset and its return to the parent nation.
A Quick Statistics on Corruption
Denmark tops the list by being the least corrupt nation scoring 90%; United States being 10th in line with 81% score. India shares its rank with China, Brazil and Belarus ranking 79th with 40%.
North Korea ranking 176 with 8% score is perceived as the most corrupt nation today.
HOW THE INTERNATIONAL ANTI CORRUPTION DAY IS OBSERVED
The International Anti corruption Day is organized by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) annually all over the world. The agencies work with their regional partners towards increasing cooperation to curb cross border corruption and also promoting and encouraging the exchange of information.
Prominent personalities, politicians, notable writers, journalists and also the members of public from various private organizations come forward to reiterate the need to fight corruption and also to reaffirm their faith in a corruption free society.
The day witnesses many activities across the globe; which includes organizing campaigns and seminars, distributing pamphlets, booklets and logos and fostering zeal to fight corruption across all the members of the public.
On this day anti-corruption advocates organize events and activities to engage the general public to effectively fight against corruption and fraud in communities. These activities include: musicals and plays to publicize the message of fighting against corruption.
Keynote speeches by those who were victims of corruption or fought against it.
Essay competitions on issues surrounding the topic of corruption.
The dissemination of posters, flyers and other material to increase awareness levels on corruption.
Functions are organized to felicitate the whistle blowers who raised their voice against corruption. Essay writing and speech competitions and debates are organized especially for the children; with themes based on corruption to make them aware of its ill effects and also to encourage them to raise their voice against it.
The event focuses on spreading awareness through all the levels of society as well as bureaucracy and political classes.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
· Stay vigilant for any incident of corruption around you.
· Be vocal and courageous enough to report it.
· Organize events in your locality to spread awareness.
· Know what responsibilities are entrusted upon the officials and the government.
· Support and encourage those who have raised their voices.
· Demand transparency in the functioning of various departments.
· Spread the word through social media.
· Every time you raise your voice against corruption, you contribute to the progress of humanity and lay the foundation of a stable, healthy and happy nation.
THEMES ON INTERNATIONAL ANTI CORRUPTION DAY
Themes play a very important role in an event by spreading the massage loud and clear using simple but effective language. Every year since 2003 the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) remain at the forefront of campaign and assign themes for the campaign. The theme for 2018-2019 is “Together We Are United Against Corruption”.
The observance of an International event on corruption; reaffirms the people from all the classes and around the globe that a corruption free society is possible if we work in unison. It fosters in them the courage to speak up against corruption rather than becoming silent prey to its effects. It draws attention to the negative effects that corruption in all its forms has on human society and wellbeing. Not to raise our voices and air our concerns but remain silent would ultimately and forcibly lace you under its fold. Moreover the objective of achieving sustainable development globally by 2030 is possible only if we eliminate corruption.
With around a trillion dollars paid out in bribes annually worldwide and even more stolen by fraud and deceit, around five percent of global GDP is consumed. Plus, organised crime, terrorism, and other corrupt forces disrupt the rule of law, the peace of societies and weakens democracy.
On International Anti-Corruption Day, there will be special media campaigns and other efforts to raise alarm over corrupt practices and to curb them.
This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world for corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic Institutions and makes them weak and less able to control or fight corruption
While there are exceptions, available data shows that despite some progress, most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption.
Former Minister of Local Govt.
& Regional Development
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