28 October 2005
UNODC Urges NGOs to Get more Involved in Fight against Corruption
VIENNA, 28 October (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) urged non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to become more involved in helping to fight corruption, at a Regional Crime Prevention Forum for NGOs from Central and Eastern Europe, held in Vienna, Austria, 27-28 October.
"Corruption is one of the main obstacles to peace, stability, sustainable development, democracy and human rights around the globe," said Francis Maertens, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UNODC, at the opening of the Forum. "It undermines development in poorer countries and has the potential to destroy national economies."
Mr. Maertens noted that the United Nations Convention against Corruption would enter into force on 14 December. The Convention, the first global, legally binding instrument in the fight against corruption, creates a platform for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to cooperate in arresting offenders and freezing assets and includes innovative and far-reaching provisions on asset recovery.
"This will create an environment in which, in time, corrupt government officials will learn that there is no safe hiding place for their ill-gotten gains," Mr. Maertens said. Quoting UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, he added: "No single state, government or organization can really succeed in changing the world alone. NGOs offer us powerful proof that the collective problems of mankind can only be addressed through a collective response."
NGOs had a crucial role in the direct fight against corruption, Mr. Maertens emphasized. They could play an important oversight role and act as a catalyst for anti-corruption reforms.
"NGOs should exert pressure on governments to adopt and implement reforms under the Convention," Mr. Maertens said. "They could, for example, do more to monitor the financial assets of political candidates and provide public scrutiny of government spending. They can make citizens more aware of their rights and help them make their grievances public."
"The work of NGOs on the ground will be crucial, but you can also help us at UNODC by sharing your concrete experiences and providing a reality check. You can let us know if your country ratifies the Convention but continues to apply local rules and national legislation that are not in line with the Convention, or you can use your local media to put pressure on national governments that have not ratified the Convention."
Representatives from NGOs from 20 countries are attending the two-day meeting, organized by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) in collaboration with UNODC and the City of Vienna, to share their experiences in preventing human trafficking, urban crime and corruption.
For information contact:
Chief, Advocacy Section, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761