Statement delivered by UNDP Country Director, Ms. Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau, to mark the International Anti-Corruption DayDec 11, 2009
Statement delivered by UNDP Country Director, Ms. Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau, to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day
December 11, 2009
Right Honourable Speaker Mr. Subash Chandra Nembang,
Honourable Ram Chandra Poudel,
Chairperson of this event
Chairperson of the CIAA, members of CA,
Respected Officials of the Government of Nepal,
Representatives from the political parties, civil society and the media,
Convener of the National Coalition against corruption,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentleman.
I am honoured to be here with you this morning to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, instituted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003. By marking the day, we are raising awareness about corruption and about the role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it.
I would like to thank the National Coalition against Corruption for organizing this event, which is very timely as a new COnsitution is being drafted to guide Nepal in its future.
The problem of corruption is not specific to one country. It is a global issue which has worsened with globalization. It is of particular concern in the developing world, as vast amounts of money and resources are diverted through corruption, away from what they should serve: socio-economic development, justice and security. And it is a particular concern to South Asia, home to one-fifth of the world population, where countries face huge challenges of sustainably alleviating poverty for millions of people and meeting the agreed upon Millennium Development Goals in less than six years from now.
In simple terms, corruption hurts the mainly and most severely the poor and vulnerable by diverting funds intended for development, undermining the government's ability to provide basic services, reducing the provision of and the quality of basic critical investments, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid. In the long run corruption undermines democratic institutions, retards economic development and contributes to instability.
According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Nepal was ranked 121st in 2008 and this rank has gone up to 143rd in 2009, which would indicate that corruption in Nepal is on an increasing trend. Political instability, weak enforcement of laws at the central as well as local level, and absence of elected local bodies could be some of the factors contributing to increasing corruption in Nepal.
In 2003, the world community marked a historic milestone by adopting in record time the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the first ever universal instrument against corruption. Two years later, it entered into force and today, 142 countries have ratified the Convention. Although, Nepal signed the UNCAC on 10 December 2003 and the previous parliament passed a resolution expressing its commitment for the ratification in 2006, it is yet to ratify the convention.
Through this Convention, governments have now universally agreed upon and accepted comprehensive standards and measures to criminalize and prevent a variety of forms of corrupt practices, such as bribery of public officials, - both national and international - embezzlement of funds, trading in influence, abuse of functions, illicit enrichment, laundering of the proceeds of crime and obstruction of justice. Equally important, State Parties to the Convention have committed to implement appropriate measures for asset recovery - also across borders- and international cooperation recognizing the transnational character of organized criminal activities, such as drugs and arms trafficking.
During the Doha Anti-Corruption Conference in November 2009, Member States made a breakthrough by agreeing to a new monitoring mechanism, by which they will review their performance under the convention every five years, through self-assessments and peer reviews and with full public disclosure of the results of the reviews. The review mechanism includes meaningful participation of civil society organisations, in-country review visits, and full publication of country reports.
Ratification of the convention is a policy commitment at the international level, but it is not enough to make a dent in corruption. Like every legal commitment, it needs to be translated into real action. To that effect it requires long term vision, strong commitment and leadership and a realistic action plan with clear cut, time bound results and means to monitor and report on progress.
It is very encouraging to see that the Nepal Government released a new Anti Corruption Strategy in April 2009 and that institutions such as the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and the National Vigilance Centre are working on combating corruption.
The enforcement of the procurement act and electronic bidding are also useful tools in combating corruption.
The past and on-going efforts are on the right track but need to be substantially scaled up to meet the peoples' expectations,, allow development, inclusive growth and justice to prosper in the New Nepal, and to support the consolidation of the peace process. Much still needs to be done in raising awareness among the public, initiating law reforms, drafting working procedures and code of conduct for public officials, strengthening anti corruption institutions and supporting to civil society organizations to monitor and fight the battle against corruption.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the occasion of the Anti Corruption Day (9 December), 'When public money is stolen for private gain, it means fewer resources to build schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment facilities. When foreign aid is diverted into private bank accounts, major infrastructure projects come to a halt. The vulnerable suffer first and worst.'
'The private sector should not lag behind governments, I urge the private sector to adopt anti-corruption measures in line with the UN Convention. Companies ' particularly those that subscribe to the 10th principle of the Global Compact, to work against corruption ' should pledge not to cheat and should open themselves up to peer review to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules.'
In this spirit, this year, the UN Resident Coordinator's Office, in close collaboration with donor-partners, launched a 'Donor Transparency Initiative' in six pilot districts of Nepal. The initiative will strengthen donor transparency and downward accountability at the district level. At its core is a detailed matrix of donor aid flowing into a district including the sector in which the money is allocated. This information will be shared with beneficiaries at the district level, allowing them to monitor the way in which money is being spent. It will also be used to identify areas in which there is too much overlap, or where more intervention is needed. The ultimate vision is that government spending in the districts will also be included in the matrix, resulting in overall transparency.
UNODC , the UN normative and technical assistance arm of UNCAC, and UNDP as the coordinating arm of the UN , stand ready to co-operate and assist the Government of Nepal to ratify the convention at the earliest possible date.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be judged by our actions, not by our words or promises. Thus let us rally under and enact the slogan launched by the UN Secretary General ' your NO counts', and as of today openly declare and demonstrate every day that ' MY NO counts'.