2-Pane Combined
Full Summaries Sorted

Countering the Global Problem of Corruption

Every year, over US$ 1 trillion is paid in bribes around the world, enriching the corrupt and robbing generations of a future.
Corruption is a global phenomenon that causes poverty, obstructs development and drives away investment. It also debilitates the judicial and political systems that should be working for the public good. Not surprisingly, as the rule of law is weakened and the voice of the people remains unheard, citizens' trust in government officials and national institutions dwindles.

"Corrupt societies are unable to support their citizens," says Stuart Gilman, head of the UNODC Anti-Corruption Unit. "They starve their children, not only of food but of education and health care. They're ongoing nightmares."

Wherever it is present, this scourge involves public officials, business managers and private citizens, who engage in such illegal acts as embezzlement of public funds, trade in influence and bribery. Scandalous examples include cases of public officials who steal billions of dollars from their national coffers and of multinational companies that pay hefty bribes to secure lucrative public contracts.

Although petty corruption does not make the headlines, its cost is arguably greater than that of large-scale corruption. "It happens in nickels and dimes, in pounds and euros, in single denominations, but it happens over and over again, tens of thousands of times," says Mr. Gilman.

Many people pay bribes in cash or gifts to get an education and proper health care, to speed up administrative procedures, or to avoid paying a fine. But what they simply see as a way to get things done is in fact a crime. In turn, corruption facilitates human trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.

The good news is that, as daunting as the task might seem, corruption can be stopped. The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a global legal framework to do so. This international instrument, which entered into force on 14 December 2005, has been ratified by 37 countries and signed by 137. As Mr. Gilman explains, "The Convention takes the best practices from throughout the world and begins holding countries that have ratified it accountable to those standards."

States parties to this Convention are expected to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, asset recovery and the prosecution of offenders. They are also required to take action in the private and public sectors and to promote the work of civil society in this area.

Both civil society and the private sector should join governments in taking a stand against corruption. There is no doubt that non-govermental organizations (NGOs) can make a difference by raising public awareness, lobbying for the introduction of effective reforms, and exposing the wrongdoings of financial and political leaders.

The reports of courageous individuals and organizations around the world have led to the resignation, indictment or conviction of those implicated. The private sector must also take steps to curb corruption within its ranks. Certain national and multinational companies have, in fact, implemented initiatives to enhance corporate transparency and integrity. The United Nations Global Compact, for example, brings together over 2,000 private companies, United Nations agencies, and labour and civil society organizations to uphold human rights, labour, environmental protection and anti-corruption principles.

Whether working independently or together, governments, the private sector and civil society can play a key role in the effort to stop corruption. Individuals, too, can help counter this global problem by refusing to engage in criminal activities that can have devastating effects on their society and country.

DMU Timestamp: February 21, 2023 13:31

0 comments, 0 areas
add area
add comment
change display
add comment

Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

Logging in, please wait... Blue_on_grey_spinner