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Anti-corruption conference ends with call for international mechanisms to recover looted money

Concern over “unacceptable risks” faced by investigative reporters

The international community must develop international mechanisms for the retrieval of money looted by corrupt rulers, the final Durban Commitment of the 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) urges. "Every failure to recover the proceeds of corruption spurs its growth," the Durban Commitment stresses.

As the 5-day conference ended, the more than 1600 delegates from 135 countries adopted a final resolution calling for enforceable international conventions to curb the levels of money-laundering and facilitate the return to developing countries of money looted by corrupt leaders. The lack of such binding mechanisms was repeatedly deplored by conference delegates from the South, most notably Nigeria and Indonesia.

"We find it wholly unacceptable that the moneys should be invested in institutions in the developed world for the benefit of a corrupt few when they are desperately needed by their rightful owners in the South for the benefit of all," the Durban Commitment states.

Delegates also expressed their concern that people speaking out against corruption faced considerable risks to their personal integrity in many countries. Journalists in particular continue to be exposed to unacceptable risks as they go about their legitimate tasks, and investigative reporting on corruption is the single most important factor in the murdering of journalists monitored by human rights organisations.

The 9th IACC was organised by Transparency International (TI) and hosted by the South African government. Speakers included South African President Thabo Mbeki, the President of Botswana , Festus Mogae, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and the chief executives of Interpol, the UN Development Progamme (UNDP), the UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and Rio Tinto plc.

During the conference, the government of South Africa announced that it will soon become a party to the OECD anti-corruption convention which criminalises the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. The Durban Commit-ment further calls upon South Africa and Nigeria to assume a leadership role in fighting corruption in Africa.

Delegates also pledged support for the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign. With reference to so-called odious debt incurred by corrupt dictators, the final resolution called for debt cancellation in circumstances which ensure that the benefits flow to the most needy and not to corrupt elites.

TI Chairman Peter Eigen welcomed the announcement of a new Partnership Fund for Transparency, to be jointly set up by the UNDP and TI. The new fund was announced during the IACC; it will seek to secure and finance civil society participation in anti-corruption programmes.

The Durban Commitment stresses that combating corruption is not a task for law enforcement officials alone. "Every prosecution, every act of corruption, represent a failure of our personal, social and organisational systems designed to prevent such conduct."

The 10th IACC will be held in Prague, Czech Republic in 2001.

For any press enquiries please contact

Mr. Jeff Lovitt
at the TI International Secretariat at
phone: +4930 343 8200