8 December 2005

International Day against Corruption
9th December 2005

Message from the UNODC Executive Director

VIENNA, 8 December (UN Information Service) - Following is the text of the message of Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the International Day against Corruption, 9 December.

  "You Can Stop Corruption" is the theme of  this year's International Day against Corruption. 

In the past, the international community was focused on raising awareness about corruption as a global problem. Today, the scale of the threat it represents is no longer disputed.

Almost no-one would argue that corruption is a trivial matter.  Corruption diverts development resources from the mouths of children into the pockets of the wealthy.  Corruption facilitates terrorism.  Organized crime could not exist without corruption, nor could human trafficking, a particularly vile form of modern slavery. It is broadly recognized that corruption devours around 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of some countries.

This year, we each need to recognize our responsibility to do something about corruption.  It is no longer acceptable to stand by passively and assume someone else will do something.  Or, even worse, to accept that it is somehow a natural part of one's culture or society.

Today is the anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Merida, Mexico, in 2003. Just two years after this monumental event, we will be celebrating the entry into force of the Convention. From 14 December, the world will have a powerful new tool to control corruption on a scale that has never existed before.  As custodians of the Convention, we at UNODC have a special responsibility to help ensure it is used to full effect.

But this tool needs hands to use it. We must urge our Governments, the private sector, civil society and ordinary citizens to take advantage of this opportunity so that future generations will know that we took action. We did not stand by passively. We tackled corruption head-on. 

The nations of the world have acted together to ensure that resources so desperately needed for schools, for health, for the welfare of citizens will be used for their intended purpose and not stolen by unscrupulous criminals. Through this new convention, the international community is coming together to put an end to corruption.

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