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United Nations issues Landmark Declaration Against Corruption

The United Nations has just issued a new and forceful "Declaration against corruption and bribery in international commercial transactions" which can pave the way for enhanced international action, stated Transparency International (TI), the Berlin-based global coalition against corruption in international business transactions.

"It is exciting and encouraging that the United Nations should take such an unequivocal step against corruption in the very same week that it elects a new Secretary-General. TI will spare no effort to support Secretary-General Kofi Annan as he assumes his new responsibilities and as he seeks to translate the new U.N. declaration into an effective work programme to curb corruption in international commercial transactions," said Peter Eigen, Chairman of TI.

The U.N. declaration, approved by consensus in the Economic and Social Council and in the General Assembly condemns all corrupt practices, endorses work in numerous international fora now to curb corruption and it calls for a series of actions by the U.N. itself. "These actions can complement ones already moving ahead in other international organizations and can provide them with additional impetus, while at the same time broadening cooperation to curb corruption among all members of the United Nations," said Peter Eigen as he welcomed the U.N. action on behalf of TI and its more than 55 national chapters around the world.

Dr. Eigen drew particular attention to the actions endorsed by the U.N. declaration and stated that TI will seek every opportunity to work with the U.N. to secure its anti-corruption objectives. The actions, as summarized by TI, that are noted in the new declaration include:

  • All U.N. Member States are requested to take measures and cooperate at all levels to combat corruption and bribery in international commercial transactions.
  • The Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies, notably the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, are requested to find ways to promote the criminalization of corruption and bribery in international commercial transactions.
  • Other U.N. organizations, notably the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, are encouraged to now proceed with initiatives in the anti-bribery area.
  • Securing public awareness through the office of the U.N. Secretary-General of the new resolution and of the need for global anti-corruption actions.
  • The U.N. declaration also calls on the Secretay-General to prepare a report for the next session of the General Assembly on actions being pursued within the U.N. and by Member States to curb corruption in international commercial transactions.

One of TI's aims when it was established just three years ago as a not-for-profit non-governmental organization was to mobilize actions by the international official organizations on fighting corruption in global commercial transactions. Officials from the United Nations participated in their private capacities in some of the planning sessions that led to the official launch of TI in 1993 and the U.N. and its agencies, including the multilateral development organizations (such as the World Bank), have been a target of TI efforts.

"The mounting support for anti-corruption action in the international organizations is a vital requirement in raising this issue to the highest political levels in governments around the globe," said Dr. Eigen. "But these initiatives only have an impact if they are followed-up at the national level and if organizations like TI constantly monitor the official agencies to see that their bold rhetoric is matched by meaningful action. We are optimistic and greatly encouraged by today's U.N. news."

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