Delegates from the signatory parties of the UN Convention Against Corruption, civil society organisations and representatives of the private sector gathered in Marrakech yesterday for the fourth session of the Conference of the State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
MARRAKECH, Morocco –
In the welcoming speech by Morocco's King Mohammed VI, delivered to the conference by his diplomatic aide, he wrote, "We need to emphasise the international climate in which [this conference] is taking place: The Arab Spring has flourished. Combating corruption now tops the list of our citizen's pressing concerns. The scourge of bribery and corruption has become a serious problem overlapping cross-border crime, diverse in forms and complex. Concerted efforts at international level need to be upheld by the state parties.
The ultimate goal is sustainable development for the people."
Having ratified the UN convention in 2003, Viet Nam's government has shown its commitment to fight corruption as one of its top national priorities.
Deputy General Director of the Government Inspectorate Tran Duc Luong told Viet Nam News that in the spirit of the Arab Spring that had spread through the Arab world and brought about fundamental changes, placed high on the conference agenda were the criminalisation of corruption, international co-operation and recovery of stolen assets. The UN convention requires member countries to identify a wide range of acts of corruption, including criminalising not only basic forms of corruption such as bribery and the embezzlement of public funds, but also trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption.
Convention-ratified countries also agreed to co-operate with one another in preventing, investigating and prosecuting offenders and exchanging legal assistance, including extraditing offenders as well as tracing, freezing, seizing and confiscating the proceeds of corruption.
The recovery of stolen assets was also placed high on the agenda to coincide with pressure from civil society groups, notably Transparency International, an NGO promoting transparency in public spending and the fight against corruption. Delegates to the conference agreed that the recovery of assets was an important task for developing countries, where corruption had plundered national wealth intended for much-needed social, educational and health projects.
Nguyen Thi Kieu Vien, director of Towards Transparency in Viet Nam, a country contact point of Transparency International, said, "One of the challenges to be dealt with is creating an international fund to provide assistance, including legal assistance, in the area of assets recovery. It's important for Viet Nam to introduce an effective complaint mechanism in connection with access recovery efforts."
She added that "Viet Nam, like other state parties of the UNCAC, should be reminded of its commitments, to take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances."
Prevention of corruption requires active participation from both the public and private sectors. Public servants and government officials must be subject to a code of conduct, implement transparent financial practice as well as being held accountable for spending public funds.
At the last meeting in Doha, Qatar in 2009, a peer review and implementation review mechanism were introduced for the first time to require state parties to produce two five-year chapters to ensure they live up to their commitment to the convention. The reviews are also necessary to sum up good practices and call on for technical support, should a country need it.
The Viet Nam country survey report, produced by Towards Transparency, has reviewed the participation of civil society organisations in assisting the government's self-assessment of its UN convention implementation. It also made analytical comparisons between domestic laws and the convention's chapters on corruption, and summed up recent key developments with recommendations to introduce amendments to legislative changes. VNS