Keynote Speech

[High-level Political Conference for the Purpose of Signing the United Nations Convention against Corruption] 

Mérida, Mexico

December 9, 2003



Nam-joo Lee


Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption





Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates and ladies and gentlemen!


It is my great honor and pleasure to speak at this historic conference on behalf of the Korean government. As the Chairman of the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption (KICAC), I am most honored to be here to sign the United Nations Convention against Corruption.


We gathered here today out of our strong endorsement for the efforts to fight corruption which has been underway within the UN framework.


I firmly believe that what brought us here together is our strong and long-held desire to build up a clean and transparent society. Particularly, I would like to commend the colleagues in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for their hard work. What should not be overlooked as well is the commitment of delegate members, who did not spare their time and energy to finalize this Convention.


Honorable chairman and distinguished guests!


It is not an exaggeration to say that we are standing at a moment, when a new chapter is being written in anti-corruption history. The first attempt to set out global anti­corruption rules dates back to 1978, when international code for business ethics was established. Since then, various efforts have been followed and thus resulted in the fruition of this Convention.


We know all too well that degree of corruption varies from country to country, but all of them, developed or developing, are faced with the common challenge of combating corruption. That is why we need international cooperation as well as national level efforts.


It is somewhat true that anti-corruption movements have been led by the developed world, mostly EU or OECD members. However, anti-corruption cooperation has now become an irresistible trend and moved up to global stage thanks to the birth of the Convention.


I am sure that the drafting and implementation of this Convention is a landmark achievement that could substantially contribute to the enhancement of transparency and the eradication of corruption in the global community.


It is my hope that all the governments would endorse this noble and concerted undertaking to root out the deep-seated evil on earth. For doing so, the will and support from the leadership of each government is essential and can make a greater difference.


I wish that building upon today's progress, we can move forward to the attaining of our common hope: constructing a corruption-free and transparent village in this world and passing it down to the next generation.


Ladies and gentlemen!


The Korean government, faced with an increasing public demand for eradicating corruption to fit its economic status, has strived to address the domestic needs and at the same time has been actively engaged in international anti-corruption cooperation.


Korea hosted the 11th International Anti-Corruption Conference and 3`d Global Forum in Seoul, May this year. Through the two most renowned conferences in the field, we added to the momentum for the strengthening of cooperation among governments and NGOs.


On a regional cooperation front, the Korean government has worked with peer countries in the Asia Pacific to facilitate the implementation of anti-corruption policies and build up mutual assistance system. One result of such efforts was reflected on the APEC Leaders' Declaration issued at the Bangkok conference in October, 2003.


In compliance with this Convention, the Korean government will ensure that it will endeavor to ratify the Convention at the earliest date possible and follow up with the necessary legislations or amendments.


Let me conclude by celebrating this conference once again and I hope the signing of this Convention will lay a cornerstone for the earlier construction of a corruption-free world.


Last but not least, I sincerely ask all of you to continuingly support and encourage our Commission so that it can play more important and meaningful role in addressing corruption in Korea and in the world.


Thank you for your attention.