UN to check anti-corruption promises kept

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Countries which promise to fight corruption will now have to prove they are doing it thanks to a new series of reports, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
The UN wants to check whether the 142 countries which have signed its legally-binding Convention against Corruption are doing more than paying it lip service.
“From now on, states will be judged by the actions that they take against corruption, not the promises they make,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in a statement.
“This agreement will not end corruption, but it will enable us to measure and fight it,” he said after a week-long meeting of 125 countries in Doha where the plan was approved.
The reports, which will be published from around 2011, will identify gaps in national anti-corruption laws and practices and highlight areas for improvement, the Vienna-based UNODC said. All countries will be monitored every five years.
The UN’s anti-corruption pact came into force in 2005 has been signed and ratified by countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti and Zimbabwe, states which score badly in global corruption rankings from watchdogs such as Transparency International.
The new reports will specifically check states are keeping to the UN pact which obliges them to prosecute corruption, recover stolen assets and improve information exchange between countries to fight graft.
But civil society groups fear the reports will not be independent enough because the summary findings will be based on self-assessment questionnaires filled out by the country in question.
Groups such Transparency International want the UNODC to push for fuller reports which include input from civil society organizations and in-country review visits.
“This is millimeters instead of km in terms of progress,” Global Financial Integrity advisor Jack Blum said.
The UNODC says the results will be double-checked by at least one or two other countries picked at random.