Business & UN

Business leaders and civil society urge UN to take meaningful action to combat corruption

  • 3 May 2021

ICC and Integrity Initiatives International press for stronger enforcement of anti-corruption laws.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Integrity Initiatives International (III), along with 96 civil society organizations from over 50 countries, have called on the UN General Assembly to establish an intergovernmental working group to develop proposals for new frameworks and mechanisms to address weaknesses in current international anti-corruption legal frameworks.

Corruption is one of the underlying causes of some of the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change, the refugee crisis, and access to healthcare and education. It is also one of the leading impediments to ameliorating them. The UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding international treaty focused on combatting corruption and has been ratified by 187 states parties. Despite the popular adoption of UNCAC, there has been little progress in the international fight against corruption since it entered into force in 2005.

At the request of Belize, Colombia, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, and Saudi Arabia, the UN will convene a Special Session against Corruption from June 2-4, 2021, during which a political declaration will be adopted. To be effective, the declaration should include a mandate to establish a working group focused on implementing new, innovative anti-corruption strategies.

One major challenge of the international anti-corruption legal framework is the lack of targeted, sustained enforcement efforts. A concern is that criminal networks, including kleptocratic heads of state and other corrupt government officials, conduct multi-jurisdictional corruption schemes at the expense of the citizens they are meant to serve. Most are never prosecuted because they control the administration of justice in the countries they rule. Strengthening enforcement mechanisms to adequately implement UNCAC would help level the playing field for honest businesses, end impunity for kleptocrats, and enable the repurposing and repatriating of stolen assets in service of the public.

ICC represents the interests of over 45 million companies globally. ICC’s First Vice-Chair Maria Fernanda Garza notes:

“A key aim for ICC is to ensure that the rule of law is applied to create equitable opportunities for all. Strengthening UNCAC enforcement mechanisms would help level the playing field and increase integrity, which is all the more important now for a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic economy.”    

Launched in 2016, III is an NGO focused on combating grand corruption by strengthening the enforcement of criminal laws against corrupt leaders. III Vice-Chair Elaine Dezenski said:

“Enforcement of global and national anti-corruption laws has lagged for many years.  While many, if not most, countries have anti-corruption laws and regulations on the books, limited enforcement has stymied progress towards combatting corruption “system-wide”.  With a global, coordinated effort of civil society, business, and government, we can make real progress on holding corrupt actors accountable.”

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