A Good Fight for Hard Times

VIENNA – Of the many problems that weak global economic conditions have brought into relief, corruption is among the most persistent. Without collective efforts to combat it, corruption will continue to erode public confidence in institutions and governments, impeding economic, political, and social development.

The global crisis has made anti-corruption measures more urgent than ever. Economic insecurity and political volatility create new opportunities for exploitation and inspire increasingly sophisticated methods for carrying out corrupt activities. As businesses struggle to compensate for falling domestic revenue by increasing their global market share, resisting temptation becomes increasingly difficult. And some studies have noted a sharp rise in illicit financial flows – a phenomenon that inevitably drains money from the poorest countries.

International institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank are working hard to encourage action in this area. December marks the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention Against Corruption – the only global, legally binding treaty of its kind. The UNCAC, to which more than four-fifths of the world’s countries are committed, is underpinned by a peer-review mechanism that monitors its effectiveness. With more measures set to be implemented and enforcement steadily improving, the challenge now is execution.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports the UNCAC’s peer-review mechanism and is helping countries to reform and strengthen their anti-corruption capacity through legislation, institution-building, and enforcement. For its part, the World Bank is investing in programs that promote good governance worldwide, while maintaining a robust investigation, enforcement, and prevention capacity to manage risks and root out shady practices. Through the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, the World Bank and the UNODC are bringing to bear their knowledge, skills, and experience to help countries recover assets siphoned off by corrupt officials.