UNODC's Action against Corruption and Economic Crime

Corruption is a major impediment to economic and social development, UNODC partners with the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, to loosen the grip that corrupt individuals have on government, national borders and trading channels. In recent years, the Office has stepped up its efforts to help States recover assets stolen by corrupt officials.

Transparency International

Transparency International is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to fighting corruption. They are probably best known for their Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures levels of perceived corruption around the world. But they do much more than that. Active in nearly 100 countries and on the international stage, they raise awareness of the devastating effects of corruption, and work with governments, businesses and international organisations to develop effective programmes to tackle it. They are not politically aligned, nor are they investigators, but they do push for changes in laws and behaviours.

Transparency International was born of the growing realisation in the 1980s-90s that corruption was directly undermining efforts to fight poverty and further development in the world’s poorest countries. While working for the World Bank, Transparency International's founder, Peter Eigen, saw that major contracts for power plants, highways or telephone networks were awarded so as to line the pockets of government officials with little regard for the communities they were supposed to be benefitting.

The founders of Transparency International realised that corruption wasn’t just robbing public funds intended for community schools or hospitals; it was also weakening the economy more broadly and making public institutions less effective. They also drew attention to the supply-side of corruption. Bribe money was often coming from the wealthiest, and supposedly least corrupt, countries, in the form of illicit payments made by companies to public officials, and often with the support of their home governments. Banks, accountants and lawyers were also implicated in helping world leaders steal public funds, and launder, store and invest them safely abroad.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments (Article 1 of the Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union). It was established in 1889. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. To that end, it:

 

  • Fosters contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries;
  • Considers questions of international interest and concern and expresses its views on such issues in order to bring about action by parliaments and parliamentarians;
  • Contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights - an essential factor of parliamentary democracy and development;
  • Contributes to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action.

The IPU supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The Union also co-operates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations which are motivated by the same ideals. In October 2011, the IPU adopted its Strategy for 2012-2017 under the overall title "Better parliaments, stronger democracy". The IPU is financed primarily by its members out of public funds. The site of the Union's Headquarters is Geneva (Switzerland).

Committee on Standards in Public Life (UK)

The United Kingdom's Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL UK) advises the Prime Minister on ethical standards across the whole of public life in the UK. It monitors and reports on issues relating to the standards of conduct of all public office holders. CSPL UK is an independent advisory non-departmental public body. Their secretariat and budget are provided by the Cabinet Office.

The CSPL UK is responsible for:

  • advising the Prime Minister on ethical issues relating to standards in public life;
  • conducting broad inquiries into standards of conduct;
  • making recommendations as to changes in present arrangements; and
  • promoting the 7 Principles of Public Life.

Their remit does not allow them to investigate individual allegations of misconduct. That is the role of the relevant regulator.


Queensland Parliament – Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee was established on 27 March 2015. The committee’s areas of responsibility as set out in section 104B of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 are as follows:

  • dealing with complaints about the ethical conduct of particular members, and
  • dealing with alleged breaches of parliamentary privilege by members of the Assembly and other persons.

Further to this, section 104C of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 provides: The committee’s area of responsibility about dealing with complaints about the ethical conduct of particular members is to—

  • consider complaints referred to the committee about particular members failing to register particular interests; and
  • consider complaints against particular members for failing to comply with the code of ethical conduct for members, report on complaints to the Assembly and recommend action by the Assembly.

A complaint about a member not complying with the code of ethical conduct for members may be considered only by the Assembly or the committee. Subsection (2) has effect despite any other law, but the subsection does not apply to a court, tribunal or other entity if the entity may, under a law, consider an issue and the issue that is considered involves the commission, or claimed or suspected commission, of a criminal offence. Subsection (3) does not limit or otherwise affect the powers, rights and immunities of the Assembly and its committees and members.

Ontario Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner

The Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (PSOA) provides for the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to have a leadership role in contributing to public servants’ understanding of the rules and how to apply them. The commissioner also has certain responsibilities under the PSOA related to employees of ministries and employees and appointees of agencies, boards, and commissions that are defined as “public bodies” in the PSOA. The commissioner’s role encompasses three broad areas:

  • Offer advice and make determinations on specific matters involving Ontario public servants.
  • Provide advice and direction to public bodies.
  • Serve as a resource for developing and sharing information about dealing with conflict of interest and political activity matters.
Standards Commission for Scotland

The Standards Commission for Scotland is an independent body set up by the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. The Commission encourages high ethical standards in public life through the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for Councillors and Members of Devolved Public Bodies. The Standards Commission works with local authorities and public bodies to help them assist their councillors and members to achieve the highest standards of conduct. They also issue guidance on the Codes of Conduct.

Complaints about breaches of the Codes of Conduct are investigated by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS). These two agencies have different but related responsibilities to investigate, determine whether a contravention of a Code of conduct has likely occurred, write written reports and hold hearings as necessary. Depending on whether the Hearing Panel determines that a contravention has taken place, sanctions may be applied in accordance with the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000.


United Nations Convention against Corruption

In its resolution 55/61 of 4 December 2000, the General Assembly recognized that an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (resolution 55/25, annex I) was desirable and decided to establish an ad hoc committee for the negotiation of such an instrument in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The text of the United Nations Convention against Corruption was negotiated during seven sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of the Convention against Corruption, held between 21 January 2002 and 1 October 2003. The Convention approved by the Ad Hoc Committee was adopted by the General Assembly by resolution 58/4 of 31 October 2003. The General Assembly, in its resolution 57/169 of 18 December 2002, accepted the offer of the Government of Mexico to host a high-level political signing conference in Merida for the purpose of signing the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

In accordance with article 68 (1) of resolution 58/4, the United Nations Convention against Corruption entered into force on 14 December 2005. A Conference of the States Parties is established to review implementation and facilitate activities required by the Convention.