Non-Aligned Movement: Addressing Corruption

Corruption is a widespread and deeply corrosive phenomenon in many societies. Corruption practices, including lack of sound international corporate governance, bribery, money laundering and transfer abroad of illegally acquired funds and assets undermine the economic and political stability and security of societies. The problem of corruption is more acute among the developing countries, as it severely endangers the efforts of such countries for sustainable development. “According to 2010 report by Transparency International, Corruption is estimated to increase the cost of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation by US $48 billion.

As the largest collective grouping of the global South, the Non Aligned Movement has taken cognizance of the problem and has been working earnestly to meet the wishes of the member States for a legal instrument to further strengthen international cooperation, technical assistance and the recovery of illicit assets to turn them over to the countries of origin. Such basic objectives in the fight against corruption require the effective application of the principle of shared responsibility.““In order to eliminate this problem, NAM has strongly advocated the adherence of member states to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which entered into force in December 2005, is the first-ever binding global anti-corruption instrument. It obliges the States to prevent and criminalize different corrupt practices, promote international cooperation, cooperate for the recovery of stolen assets and enhance technical assistance and information exchange.

The Convention addresses both the public and private spheres and provides a set of comprehensive agreed-upon obligations and provisions to criminalize corruption and enhance transparency and accountability. In order to monitor the progress in the implementation of the Convention, Member States have agreed to conduct “peer-review mechanisms” among themselves, for which United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) acts as a Secretariat.

Through this Convention, countries have now universally agreed upon comprehensive standards to criminalize and prevent corruption in their respective countries. In the South Asian region, UNODC has been actively engaged. In Sri Lanka, UNDOC cooperates with the United Nations Development Program. UNODC with the Government of Maldives had also organized skill building workshop in Male, the Maldives on how to conduct investigations and audits for government officials from various departments, In particular, NAM has stressed the implementation of the provisions on asset recovery contained in Chapter V of the UN Convention against Corruption, which require State Parties to return assets obtained through corruption. The movement has emphasized that one of the high priorities in the fight against corruption is to ensure the return of illegally acquired assets to the country of origin.“

As such, successive NAM pronouncements on the issue of corruption have therefore urged All State Parties and relevant international organizations, consistent with the principles of the Convention, in particular Chapter V, to strengthen their cooperation at all levels in order to facilitate the quick return of such assets, and to assist requesting States to build human, legal and institutional capacity to facilitate tracing, confiscation and recovery of such assets.““During the 17th Ministerial Conference of the Non Aligned Movement held in May 2014 in Algiers, Algeria, NAM reaffirmed the importance of enhancing cooperation and collaboration, in particular through the promotion of best practices in combating corruption and welcomed the outcomes of the Fifth session of the Conference of the States Party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which took place in Panama City, Panama from 25 to 29 November 2013. The Conference concentrated on key issues regarding review of the implementation of the Convention, asset recovery, prevention and technical assistance.

NAM leaders also used the event as a platform for guiding the developing countries towards the achievement of the convention’s objectives.India, as an integral member of NAM has been at the forefront of addressing the issue of corruption through the involvement of both state and non state actors. Steps taken to address corruption in India also includes the adoption of Transparency International’s Integrity Pact, and the provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005, which mandate even private sector entities to publicly disclose certain types of information. In May 2011, the Indian Government ratified two UN Conventions – the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its three protocols.“Thus, it can be seen that the members of NAM in their collective as well as individual capacities have taken steps to address the issue of corruption within the UN framework on Corruption. NAM has taken note and appreciated the establishment and functioning of the Implementation Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and encouraged States Party to the Convention to provide full support to the Review Mechanism.

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