UN official urges action against corruption as forum opens in Bali

28 January 2008 – A senior United Nations official today urged countries to put the United Nations Convention against Corruption into action as more than 1,000 participants from around opened a weeklong conference on the pact in Bali, Indonesia.

"Corruption hurts us all, therefore fighting it is a shared responsibility - we all have a duty and the power to say 'no' to corruption," said the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa.

He highlighted areas where UNODC, and others, can provide technical assistance, for example asset recovery, a key measure in the anti-corruption Convention.

But Mr. Costa warned that despite political will and good intentions, efforts to recover assets, for example through the World Bank/UNODC Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, are running into resistance from "middle-level bureaucrats with connections, knowledge and entrenched interests who have a lot to lose."

He urged participants "to neutralize these black holes in your administrations."

Mr. Costa said countries need to explain what they have done to fight corruption and implement the anti-corruption Convention while finding out what further tools and skills they need to build integrity. He added that they should also develop a device to measure their progress in addressing corruption.

Mr. Costa stressed that it is time for business to be more part of the solution and less part of the problem. He also called on multilateral organizations to lead by example. Their rules should meet the same high standards that governments are being asked to meet, he said.

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