Statement by the Head of the Delegation of the Czech Republic
H. E. Ambassador Vera ZEMANOVA
To the High-level Political Conference for the Purpose of Signing the United Nations
Convention against Corruption

Mr. President (of the Conference),
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, let me congratulate the host country, Mexico, as well as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on wonderful organization of this Conference. In fact, it represents a milestone in the history of mankind: whereas the phenomenon of corruption in its multifaceted forms has always been there and, I would say, it was inherently present throughout most of the stages of the humankind evolution. Now and here, in Mérida, with the opening of the UN Convention against Corruption to signature, we at the same time open a new era of struggle for human dignity, faith and undistorted legal, social and economic environment. The rule of law and good governance – these are no less important principles we have to base upon in our fight against corruption. The Ad-hoc Committee succeeded in negotiating the first ever global legally binding instrument against corruption in two years time. It deserves the highest appreciation. But we must then succeed in making it a working tool in our everyday practice. We ought to let it be felt by those who so far profit from corruption and - which is even more important – by those who suffer from corruption. The sooner, the better! A political will is there and we should not lose the momentum.

Mr. President,

My country, the Czech Republic, has been taking decisive institutional measures to enforce existing national anti-corruption legislature since early 90th. At first, special police corps were established followed by the widening of scope of cooperation among different state administration as well as public bodies – in the area of law enforcement, finance and banking, taxation, accounting and auditing, judiciary etc. The anti-corruption policy gained new impetus when it becomes one of the priorities of the Czech Government in 1998. By its Decree No. 125 of 1999, the Government adopted the national “Programme against Corruption” and assigned to its Ministers and Heads of Government Bodies a comprehensive range of tasks, the implementation of which should halt the spread-out of corruption and facilitate the prevention of corruption behaviour throughout the whole society. The responsible Government Body – Ministry of Interior – produces the respective “Report on Corruption in the Czech Republic and on Meeting the Schedule of Measures adopted under the Government Programme against Corruption” on an annual basis. It builds upon, among others, information collected by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice and data originating from public opinion pools.

In the Czech Republic, the need for complexity in approach to fighting corruption materialized in the framework of the so-called “Anti-corruption Coalition” which involves public administration offices, NGOs (including Transparency International) and academic circles. The Minister of Interior was also appointed (by the Government) as the Inter-Ministerial Coordinator of Anti-corruption Policies earlier this year. As from the 1st of July next year, the new Financial Police will become operational and some other rather innovative measures are to be put in place in the near future, like e.g. the “integrity test” of public officials and judges.

Mr. President,

These are but a few examples of national capacity building in the area of fighting corruption. Most of the measures stem from legislative steps and duly reflect the current process of re-codification of the Czech Criminal Code, Law of Criminal Procedure, Civil Code and Civil Procedure Code, Commercial Code, Public Procurement Law and other basic law instruments. These endeavours go hand in hand with the developments on the international arena fostered by globalisation and, specifically for the Czech Republic, its integration with the European and global economy. The Czech Republic has therefore become a party to the three anti-corruption conventions of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and of the Council of Europe and participates in two international monitoring mechanisms for the review of implementation of obligations under these conventions. Alongside with its accession to the European Union (EU) in May next year, the Czech Republic will accede to specific agreements and protocols aimed at protecting financial interests of the European Community and fighting corruption within the EU.

As the current legislative overload resulting in extraordinary pace of work does not allow the State administration to cope with additional challenges arising at a short notice and requiring exceptional organizational measures, it has not been possible to complete the indispensable formal procedure back home to enable the Czech Republic to sign the UN Convention against Corruption in Mérida. Nevertheless, Mr. President, I would like to reassure you about strong political will on the side of the Czech Republic to sign the Convention as soon as possible. The preparatory steps for signing the UN Convention against Corruption will be finalized in conjunction with the ratification process of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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