6 November 2009

States Urged to Use UN Anti-Corruption Treaty to Restore Integrity in the Financial System

VIENNA, 9 November (UN Information Service) - Countries that have signed the United Nations anti-corruption treaty are meeting in Doha, Qatar this week to review implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. This is the Third Session of the Conference of States Parties to this Convention which came into force in December 2005.

The session was opened by the Attorney General of Qatar, Dr. Ali Al-Marri, in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Tamin Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar. Dr. Al-Marri described the Conference of States Parties as the "the inter-governmental forum par excellence to fight corruption".

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, called corruption "the cause and consequence" of the financial crisis. He criticized governments for having allowed the system to get out of control, and financiers and corporate tycoons for turning their dealings into a free-for-all game.

He urged all states to recognize a silver lining to the crisis by using the UN anti-corruption Convention as "a blueprint for restoring confidence in markets, businesses, and governments".

Mr. Costa stressed that "corruption is preventable, not a fact of life, or part of business". The UNCAC contains preventive measures that apply to the public and private sectors. Their implementation is being reviewed in Doha.

One of the main issues under discussion at Doha is the creation of a mechanism to review implementation of the treaty. "At the moment, corruption is in the eye of the beholder - there is no way to measure it," said Mr. Costa. A review mechanism would, for the first time, enable states to see how effectively they are fighting corruption, and identify where more progress is needed. The intention is to create a mechanism that is transparent, non-intrusive, inclusive and fair. "It must be a technical inter-governmental review to measure progress, not a game of name and shame," said Mr. Costa. The head of UNODC urged Member States to "seal the deal" on the review mechanism by the conclusion of the meeting on Friday.

The Conference of States Parties is being attended by over 1000 delegates from 125 countries, as well as representatives of civil society, international organizations, parliaments, the media and the private sector.

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For further information, please contact:

Walter Kemp
Spokesman and Speechwriter, UNODC
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: walter.kemp@unodc.org