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Transparency International urges NEPAD leaders to ratify AU Anti-Corruption Convention

Curbing corruption an essential step towards realising NEPAD goals

As the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSIGC) of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) opens its meeting this week in Algiers, Algeria, Transparency International (TI), the leading non-governmental organisation dedicated to fighting corruption worldwide, calls on leaders attending the Algiers meeting to ratify the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. TI also calls on these leaders to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption as a vital global counterpart to the AU convention, particularly with regards to mutual legal assistance and asset recovery.

Being at the vanguard of NEPAD places additional responsibility on HSIGC leaders to ratify this important convention, especially as African leaders, through NEPAD, have agreed "to combat and eradicate corruption, which both retards economic development and undermines the moral fabric of society." The Convention represents a regional consensus on what states should do in the areas of prevention, criminalisation, international cooperation and asset recovery. Among its corruption prevention measures are requirements for the declarations of assets by public officials, access to information, anti-corruption education and whistleblower protection.

Good governance, according to TI's chairman Peter Eigen, is at the heart of the fight against poverty and economic underdevelopment. "By tackling corruption, nations strike at a root cause of war, human rights abuse and poverty. We urge governments to back their words with action and ratify the AU Anti-Corruption Convention. We also urge them to promptly ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, which establishes global standards complementing the AU Convention's regional standards."

TI is concerned that the chief promoters of NEPAD - Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal and Algeria - have not yet ratified the AU Anti-Corruption Convention. By ratifying the AU and UN Conventions, these countries will send a clear signal of their commitment to NEPAD, an initiative they have been vigorously promoting.

Of the six countries that have ratified the AU Convention and deposited instruments of ratification with the AU, only two are HSGIC countries (Rwanda and Libya). HSGIC countries who have not ratified the regional instrument are, Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa and Tunisia. Angola, Botswana, and Egypt have not even signed the Convention. Among the non-HSGIC ratifying countries are Comoros, Lesotho, Namibia and Uganda.

The backing of the AU and UN Conventions by African leaders sends the powerful message that they recognise the harmful effects of corruption on national economies. This support is even more significant against the backdrop of the bold decision by African leaders to adopt and initiate a peer review mechanism as part of the monitoring process of NEPAD. HSIGC comprises leaders of 19 nations from AU's five sub-regions and reports to the AU Summit annually.

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