Statement on behalf of Transparency International by Peter Rooke, member

of the Advisory Council

 

Conference for Signing the U.N. Convention Against Corruption

Mérida Mexico 9-11 December 2003

 

 

Transparency International welcomes this opportunity to address this historic conference for signing the first truly global anti-corruption instrument.

 

It is fitting that the opening of the conference will in future be celebrated as International Anti-Corruption Day.

 

TI congratulates the Ad Hoc Committee and the Secretariat on their achievement in successfully concluding negotiations for the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in record time.

 

Eradicating corruption is first and foremost the responsibility of states but the Convention recognizes the vital role for civil society and the business sector.

 

TI is a global non government movement with autonomous national chapters in some 90 countries in every continent and at every level of development. We work to build national, regional and global coalitions with government, business and other stakeholders. We do not investigate or expose cases of corruption and we are independent and politically non-partisan.

 

TI celebrates its 10th anniversary old this year. We have seen, and been party to, a dramatic increase in awareness of corruption and of the pressing need to curb it.

 

As our Chairman, Peter Eigen, has said:

"Corruption respects no national boundaries. It deepens poverty by distorting political, economic and social life. Transparency International was born from the experience of people who witnessed at first hand the real threat to human life posed by corruption."

 

As awareness has grown, so have expectations. The Mérida Convention raises these expectations at a global level.

 

The Convention represents the culmination of the second phase of the global fight against corruption.

 

The first phase was to raise awareness.

 

The second has set in place a global framework of international instruments.

 

The third - and most challenging - phase is to meet the expectations of the world's citizens, by implementing and applying these instruments so that real tangible progress is seen in reducing corruption worldwide. While some countries at all levels of development have successfully tackled corruption, in many other countries the task has barely begun.

 

The Convention is wide-ranging in its coverage but not uniform in treatment of different issues. TI regrets that transparency in funding the political process and private sector corruption are not addressed by mandatory provisions.

 

On the other hand, we applaud the ground-breaking provisions on asset recovery. If effectively implemented, these will allay suspicions that financial institutions in the North facilitate the looting of resources from the South. We also welcome the extensive provisions for international cooperation on law enforcement, extradition and mutual legal assistance.

 

That was phase two. We are firmly in the third phase of the fight against corruption, that of implementation.

TI strongly urges rapid ratification and effective implementation of the Convention by as many states as possible. We agree with President Fox that, with resolute political will, the 30 ratifications needed for entry into force are achievable by the first anniversary of this conference. This would send the strongest possible signal that governments intend to meet the raised expectations I mentioned. It is also imperative that a great majority of states become parties to the Convention in order maximize its effectiveness as a vehicle for international cooperation.

 

Ratification must be accompanied by effective implementation and by application of the Convention through domestic laws giving effect to its provisions. We expect that most states will go far beyond the mandatory provisions of the Convention by implementing many of the optional provisions too.

 

We welcome the Convention's recognition of the need for sharing information and for technical assistance when requested. Many states will need help to assess and meet the requirements of the Convention. TI and our national chapters stand ready to contribute to this process.

 

TI is a strong advocate of effective follow up mechanisms in international instruments. We note that the Conference of States Parties will decide on this important issue. The negotiations showed what a challenge this will be. Clearly, monitoring mechanisms used in other instruments are unlikely to be appropriate given the likely number of parties and the very broad scope of the Convention. TI intends to contribute to the process which should start immediately to look at a wide range of options with a view to encouraging a consensus around a mechanism which is neither too intrusive or resource intensive nor too weak to be effective.

 

While we can and should all applaud the great achievement the Convention represents, it is clear that even bigger challenges lie ahead.