29 July 2003

UNODC Strengthens Cooperation among International Organizations to Fight Corruption

VIENNA, 29 July (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Vienna-based anti-crime programme is spearheading efforts to enhance cooperation among various UN agencies and other international organizations to put in place an effective coordinating mechanism to fight international corruption. Following a two-day meeting here on 24-25 July, hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, representatives of a number of UN programmes and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, agreed to formalize their inter-agency coordination mechanisms and to set up a functioning coordinating group to oversee the regular exchange of information and experiences as regards their anti-corruption work.

The formally established coordinating mechanism is expected to lead not only to better exchange of existing anti-corruption work done by the participating agencies, but to closer cooperation as regards best practices and lessons learned. As the participants of the newly established International Group for Anti-Corruption Coordination (IGAC) stressed, they are "dedicated to strengthening international anti-corruption coordination in order to avoid undue duplication and to ensure effective and efficient use of existing resources".

The Group and the coordinating mechanism will not only focus on external corruption, but will also promote the sharing of experiences as regards fighting internal corruption, namely fraud and financial wrongdoings within the various organizations. In this regard the  representative of the United Nations Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) stressed that the UN's Organizational Integrity Initiative -- which aims at enhancing integrity within the United Nations and managed by OIOS -- will benefit from a closer cooperation with organizations, such as the World Bank and the European Anti-Fraud Office, that have a good track record of dealing with internal corruption. Participants also stressed the need to take a more proactive approach to corruption by identifying high-risk areas, such as procurement, and concentrating efforts in those fields to strengthen the culture of prevention, thereby moving away from a reactive culture.

The current meeting was held as Member States were meeting in Vienna for a final round of negotiations on the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the first such global instrument. The sixth session of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a Convention against Corruption (21 July - 8 August) is expected to finalize and approve the text of the Convention which then would be submitted to the General Assembly at its 58th session and to the High-level Signing Conference scheduled to take place in Merida, Mexico, from 9-11 December 2003.

Participants of the two-day interagency meeting also pledged to promote support for the signing and eventual ratification of the new Convention following its adoption, and also to share information on their experiences as regards ways and means to effectively monitor the provisions of the future Convention.

This was the fourth time that various UN and international organizations met to coordinate their anti-corruption work. The interagency coordination initiative was launched by UN Deputy-Secretary-General Louise Fréchette in 2001. Participants of the Fourth United Nations Interagency Anti-Corruption Coordination Meeting included: the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN (DESA); the Office for Internal Oversight Services of the UN (OIOS); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the Department of Public Information of the UN (DPI); the International Institute for Education Planning of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IIEP-UNESCO); the Council of Europe; the European Commission; the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Europe (OECD); the World Customs Organization (WCO); the European Anti-Fraud Office; Interpol; the World Bank; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); and Transparency International (TI).

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