10 June 2003





NEW YORK, 9 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Executive Programme on Corruption Control and Organizational Integrity, delivered by Mr. Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, on 8 June:


Corruption is an insidious menace. It debases democracy, undermines the rule of law, distorts markets, stifles economic growth, and denies many their rightful share of economic resources or life-saving aid.  Corruption is, therefore, a major obstacle to economic and social development.  And by contributing to poverty and a sense of hopelessness, corruption can be a midwife of terrorism, trafficking in people, and other threats to human security.


The United Nations is in the front line in the fight against corruption. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime works with Member States to improve legislation, boost the efforts of civil society, and increase the transparency and accountability of national institutions. The United Nations Development Programme helps build institutions and mechanisms that promote participation and accountability.  The World Bank has in the last eight years supported more than 600 anticorruption programmes and governance initiatives developed by its member countries.


A major step forward is expected later this year when Member States gather in Mexico City to sign a United Nations Convention Against Corruption.  The Convention would ensure the criminalization of diverse forms of corruption, oblige Member States to take effective preventive measures to protect the dignity of their institutions and procedures, and provide a framework for improved international co-operation, including in the field of asset recovery.


The United Nations itself must ensure that it leads by example.  Integrity and ethics must guide all our work.  That is why, like many major public and private organizations, we are taking a closer look at our internal governance and professional ethics.  Led by our Office of Internal Oversight Services, we have launched the Organizational Integrity Initiative to tackle the problem of fraud and corruption, an initiative generously funded by the Norwegian Government.  Because training is an important part of this initiative, we are pleased to be joining hands with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as co-founders of the Executive Programme on Corruption Control and Organizational Integrity that begins today.


 Each of you gathered here holds a position of trust.  Whether you are one of my United Nations colleagues participating in the programme, or an executive from another walk of life, you can play an important role, both as a champion of integrity within your organization and as a strategic player in stamping out corruption.  Your attendance here brings with it a responsibility to return to your offices with a fresh awareness of integrity issues and new ideas to contribute to the effort.  For integrity and professional ethics to take root in an organization, its people must exercise responsibility. Ultimately, it
is people like you who make the difference.  I, therefore, wish you well and this programme every success.




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