16 January 2008
Bali Conference to Strengthen Integrity and Fight Corruption
VIENNA, 16 January 2008 (UN Information Service) - Senior officials from the more than 100 States that are Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) will meet in Bali, Indonesia, from 28 January to 1 February 2008. They will be joined by parliamentarians, business leaders, crime fighters from anti-corruption agencies, representatives of international organizations and development banks, civil society, the media, and the entertainment industry. Over 1,000 participants are expected.
The meeting will be opened by Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia.
Replacing a culture of corruption with an environment of integrity
Looking ahead to the Conference, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said: "In Bali, I urge Member States to demonstrate that they are living up to their commitment to fight corruption, and to identify what more needs to be done".
Mr. Costa, whose office is custodian of the UN anti-corruption Convention, said "this is more than an inter-governmental conference: it is a chance to replace a culture of corruption with an environment of integrity. Since corruption hurts us all, we have a shared responsibility to stop it".
A global anti-corruption instrument
The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the first and only global legally binding anti-corruption instrument. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in October 2003. It came into force on 14 December 2005. So far, 140 States have signed it and 107 have ratified it to become full-fledged States Parties.
The anti-corruption Convention requires States to:
· prevent corruption - by establishing anti-corruption bodies, enhancing transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties, strengthening integrity in the public service, and promoting transparency and accountability in public finance, public procurement and the judiciary;
· make corruption a criminal offence - not only bribery and the embezzlement of public funds, but also trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. The Convention also covers private sector corruption;
· cooperate to fight corruption. Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance, facilitate extradition, and support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption;
· return stolen assets. Asset recovery is a fundamental principle of the Convention. The Convention contains innovative measures that oblige countries to return stolen assets to their rightful owners. Bank secrecy laws should no longer be an impediment to justice. Mutual legal assistance can cut through red tape to collect the evidence needed to catch the guilty and recover stolen assets.
To achieve the objectives set forth in the Convention and to promote and review its implementation, a Conference of the States Parties to the Convention was established. This year's meeting in Indonesia is the second time States Parties will meet, following the inaugural session in Jordan in December 2006.
A main item on the Bali agenda is to establish a mechanism to review implementation of the Convention. "The UN anti-corruption Convention provides benchmarks to plug holes in domestic legislation and strengthen national capacity to fight corruption", said Mr. Costa. "An effective review mechanism will ensure that this powerful piece of international law lives up to its potential".
Warning to kleptocrats
The Bali Conference will also focus on asset recovery. In September, the World Bank and UNODC launched the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative to help States take advantage of the landmark asset recovery measures of the UN anti-corruption Convention. "This Initiative should dissuade kleptocrats from robbing their own people, and will help countries that have been plundered by corrupt leaders to get their money back", said Mr. Costa. A Ministerial Roundtable on asset recovery will be held in Bali.
Appealing to corporate responsibility
There will also be a strong focus on the role of the private sector in fighting corruption. "Fighting corruption and building integrity are part of good governance as well as good business", said Mr. Costa. The UN anti-corruption Convention includes measures for the private sector: "the challenge is to get companies to implement them by showing that it makes business sense", he said. Mr. Costa will therefore propose a Blue Emblem to recognize companies that align their rules and regulations to the universal principles of the UNCAC. A number of business leaders will meet in Bali to discuss what further steps the private sector can take to fight corruption in all its forms.
Don't forget the bureaucrats
The head of UNODC also urged international organizations to lead by example. "To practice what we preach, international organizations should align their integrity rules to the principles of the Convention", said Mr. Costa. He has proposed an Institutional Integrity Initiative that will be discussed at the Bali meeting by a number of UN agencies.
Artists for integrity
To shine the spotlight on corruption and to demonstrate that strengthening integrity is everybody's business, a number of well-known artists and journalists will take part in special events at the Bali Conference.
On the opening day, actress Famke Janssen ( Goldeneye, X-men Trilogy), director, writer and producer Terry George ( Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father), author David Liss ( A Spectacle of Corruption, The Coffee Trader), musician Eric Wainaina (' Kenya Only', 'Nchi ya Kitu Kidogo'), CNN's Jim Clancy and singer Cesar Lopez (inventor of the 'Escopettara' - a machine gun converted into a guitar), will take part in a public forum on corruption and what can be done to fight it.
What the media can do
A peer-to-peer media forum will enable journalists from developing countries to discuss with colleagues from international broadcasters like the BBC and CNN, as well as the International Press Institute, the challenges of covering corruption and ways of strengthening integrity in the media.
All plenary meetings and special events will be open to the media.
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For further information, please contact:
Mr. Walter Kemp
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 5629
Mobile : (+43-699) 1459-5629
Public Information Officer,
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Tel: (+43-1) 26060 5764
Mobile:(+43-1) 699 1459 5764
For media accreditation, please contact:
Media Accreditation Officer
United Nations Information Centre - Jakarta
Telephone: (+62-21) 3983 1011/13
Mobile phone: (+62) 08111 891 736
Facsimile: (+62-21) 3983 1014
This event is open to all interested journalists.
For more details on the Conference, please click http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/CAC-COSP-session2.html