Press Releases

    22 January 2002


    VIENNA, 22 January (UN Information Service) -- New steps by the international community to fight corruption are being taken at the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of a United Nations Convention against Corruption being held in Vienna this week. The Officer-in-Charge of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), Mr. Steinar B. Bjornsson, told delegates that the meeting was the beginning of a historic process in the fight against corruption. He reminded them that the task ahead is to equip the world with a broad, comprehensive, functional and effective international instrument which will strengthen the existing capacity of countries to counter corruption and create that capacity for those countries which do not yet possess it.

    The Ad Hoc Committee (meeting from 21 January – 1 February 2002) is now considering the first draft of a Convention against Corruption which derives from a wide range of proposals from Member States which were discussed at the Informal Preparatory Meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a Convention against Corruption, held in Buenos Aires from 4-7 December 2001.

    The Officer-in-Charge indicated that the proposals demonstrate the keen interest of countries all over the world to participate actively in the negotiation process, to register their views and concerns and to ensure that the final product reflects all aspects of the multifaceted problem of corruption. It is also proof, he said, that the international community wants to made sure the future Convention works well, is of the highest quality and is universally accepted.

    In his opening statement, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, H.E. Ambassador Charry Samper from Colombia, expressed his determination to work in partnership with all Member States to build a consensus for the Convention. He pointed out that the task ahead is to bring about a profound change in behavior and to secure a common commitment to take action against corruption. There would have to be a strengthening of controls, a reform of practices and more effective international cooperation. He stressed that corruption is on the increase: it is even encroaching on the agencies and institutions designed to contain it, such as parliamentary assemblies, the judiciary and even regulatory bodies.

    While he acknowledged the need to respect cultural and legal differences, the Chairman emphasized that the final aim is to reach common denominators for improving the situation. He advocated the need to affirm certain ethical principles as well as to establish a culture of transparency and integrity.

    Because of globalization, the chairman said, it is important to have the support of international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the private and public sector and civil society. The financial and banking institutions and multinational corporations will also be called upon to step up their efforts to combat corruption, prevent and overthrow it as a global phenomenon.

    In concluding his speech, the Chairman stated that although no country, developed or developing, is immune from the effects of corruption, there are ways of dealing with it. The important thing is to take action and he urged the Ad Hoc Committee to move the Convention forward.

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