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Unaccountable governments ‘are threatening to derail UN Anti-Corruption Convention’

Transparency International urges countries that are not yet ready to commit to serious anti-corruption measures to withdraw from the drafting group rather than water down the Convention

The negotiations for a global convention against corruption, currently being drafted in Vienna, are "on the point of being derailed", says Transparency International (TI), the world's leading non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption.

"Many countries are opposing meaningful arrangements for the monitoring of the proposed convention, including participation by civil society, which suggests that they are as yet unprepared to commit themselves to containing corruption," said Jeremy Pope, Executive Director of TI's Centre for Innovation and Research. "As it is, the content of the obligations has been steadily watered down over the past ten days."

"TI commends the support for monitoring given by the delegations from Argentina, Austria, Benin, Cameroon, the Netherlands and Norway, among others, but far too many countries are simply not yet ready to accept meaningful commitments to fight corruption in their own countries," said Pope. "It would be far better for the process if these countries were to be honest, were to withdraw from the drafting group and indicate that they are not, as yet, ready to accept commitments that will be reported upon and monitored," he said. "Otherwise we will end up with an exercise in window-dressing, devoid of content and impact."

"This is deeply distressing," said Pope, "as a number of developing countries have been looking to the new convention to provide meaningful and effective measures for the recovery of assets looted by their corrupt leaders."

"The paradox is that many UN conventions have effective monitoring mechanisms, yet delegates seem intent on turning the clock back by denying these to the draft under consideration now," he concluded.

For TI's proposals to the negotiation sessions, see

Note to editors: The UN Anti-Corruption Convention 5th session (Third Reading) takes place in Vienna on 10-21 March 2003, the 6th session in Vienna on 21 July - 1 August, and the Convention launch is scheduled to take place in Mexico in December 2003.

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