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Transparency International calls for stronger anti-corruption leadership

International Anti-Corruption Day Challenges

"Stronger leadership is essential if corruption is to be defeated,” says Huguette Labelle, the new Chair of Transparency International, as the world recognises International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, two years after the historic signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Merida, Mexico.

“The signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption was a forceful demonstration of the power of visionary leadership to bring about an historic change for the good,” said Labelle. “Leaders must now carry that spirit through by ensuring ratification by all nations that signed the Convention and adopting the strong monitoring mechanisms needed to give it teeth.”

Designated in 2004 by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, International Anti-Corruption Day recognises the essential global leadership provided at Merida, where 95 countries took the anti-corruption pledge by signing the Convention. They have since been joined by 42 more signatories, bringing the total to 137 nations.

The Convention enters into force on 14 December 2005, 90 days after the required 30th ratification documentation was received. Nations that have ratified will benefit from the Convention’s provisions to help retrieve assets stolen by dictators and other public officials, prevent money laundering, pursue corrupt foreign companies and individuals, prohibit bribery of foreign public officials, and enhance accounting and auditing standards in the private sector.

“Complacency is corruption’s best friend,” said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of Transparency International. “Signing the document and taking part in the photo opportunity is not enough. Leaders must now complete the ratification process and focus on implementation.”

Countries must translate the Convention’s provisions into action. The follow-up conference in late 2006 for signatory states must generate an explicit and effective system for reviewing each country’s implementation of the convention and agree on adequate levels of resources and technical assistance to enable developing countries to implement it effectively. Experience of other anti-corruption conventions shows that without a rigorous monitoring mechanism, the UNCAC will fail to make a dent in corruption levels.

Anti-Corruption Day

Around the world on 9 December, people will stand up and say no to corrupt politicians, crooked companies and cold-hearted cronyism. International Anti-Corruption Day recognises the devastating impact of corruption on the lives of millions of people around the world and honours the quiet acts of courage of individuals who are building the foundation of change. In countries rich and poor, in all regions and walks of life, diverse organisations and individuals are united in a common cause: forcing the world to action against the scourge of corruption.

International Anti-Corruption Day is also the day when leaders of the Group of Eight (G-8) should report publicly on their progress in fulfilling the anti-corruption goals set at their Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, six months ago. The G-8 countries committed to promptly ratify the UNCAC, yet only France has completed the process.

“Think Again!”: Transparency International’s new television advertisement

Transparency International is launching a new global television advertisement called “Think Again!” Based on the theme, “Think you can’t fight corruption? Think again”, the advertisement challenges the entrenched view that corruption is inevitable and cannot be fought. It is also a stark reminder that corruption has victims.

As the Global Corruption Barometer 2005, issued today by Transparency International, illustrates, those who can least afford to pay bribes – the poor – are often forced to pay for basic services to which they are legally entitled.

Launched in 65 countries, in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic, the advertisement offers hope to the millions whose daily lives are damaged by greed and corruption.

Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

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