Corruption Day

Anti Corruption Day

International Anticorruption Day December 9, 2009

Statement of Ambassador Glyn Davies
United States Mission to International Organizations
in Vienna (UNVIE)

December 9 is International Anticorruption Day, a day when we honor the actions of brave individuals from governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector who are involved in the struggle against corruption.

The role of governments in the fight against corruption is critical.  Governments set the stage for corruption to breed and grow.  They also hold the key to creating a culture of integrity.  It is not enough simply to make pronouncements a resolve against corruption.  Governments must take actions that chart a course for integrity and support and protectoffer a haven for those who choose to act accordingly.

The international community has clearly defined what actions governments must take to counter corruption.  Six years ago on this day, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) was opened for signature in Merida, Mexico.  UNCAC represents the first truly globally applicable set of anticorruption commitments and the most comprehensive set of commitments ever developed.  Over 140 governments, including the United States, have become parties to UNCAC, thus committing to institute a wide range of measures enumerated in that convention, including measures to prevent corruption, criminalize corrupt actions, recover looted assets and render mutual legal assistance and other forms of international cooperation.

The United States is working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna and other States Parties to help turn the commitments of UNCAC into effective action.  In an important step forward, the States Parties to the convention adopted last month in Doha a mechanism that will use peer review to evaluate how governments are implementing their convention commitments.  These peer reviews will provide information on global, regional and national challenges to fighting corruption, as well as identifying successes and opportunities for technical assistance.

What we do at the international and multilateral level, including with the development and implementation of UNCAC, is important.   Collectively, our work has helped make anticorruption a common topic of discussion among governments – when only two decades ago most countries shunned the topic.  Our work has eliminated the tax deductibility of bribes — when only fifteen years ago bribes were tax deductible in a number of major exporting countries.  And above all, our work has solidified the principle that corruption is unacceptable in any and all forms – when some governments in the past would argue that a certain amount of corruption is inevitable.

As the international environment matures in its attitudes against corruption, the true fight against corruption continues on a daily basis at the local and national levels.  It begins with the government official who refuses to accept a bribe, the business representative who refuses to participate in a corrupt public procurement system, the non-governmental and media organizations that shine a light on corrupt public sector activities, and the individual citizen who refuses to pay a bribe.

A number of events planned for today around the world – in Paris and Brussels, among others – will highlight this struggle against corruption and attempt to raise its profile.

Our wish on this day is a simple one.  As the international community commemorates those who put their livelihoods – and even their lives – in danger to end corruption, we hope the international community will also stand by these individuals long after today’s events are over and the attention of the media has turned elsewhere.  The fight against corruption is continual.  The greatest honor we can bestow on anticorruption pioneers is to let them know we stand behind them, not just on this day but on every day thereafter.