Corruption is a problem that affects countries around the world.
Corruption is a problem that affects countries around the world. Its forms and impact may vary, but the results are corrosive nonetheless, undermining democracy, stifling economies, thwarting justice, diverting resources, and ruining the futures of nations and the most vulnerable people.
Since 2003, today, December 9th, has been designated as International Anti-Corruption Day, in order to highlight the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. It is a day to raise public awareness about corruption and how to combat it. Since the Convention’s adoption, the United States and 167 other nations have ratified the Convention and are holding perpetrators accountable.
The Convention recognizes that a comprehensive approach is needed to reduce corruption substantially, one taken in coordination by governments, civil society and the private sector. And success depends on continuing efforts to promote transparency in government and the rule of law, and to ensure that citizens everywhere, as individuals, journalists and organized civil society, are able to expose corrupt practices and press for the prosecution of perpetrators.
These efforts include tighter criminal sanctions against corrupt actions, greater access to government records, codes of conduct for government officials, along with press and whistleblower protections.
President Barack Obama echoed these concerns this summer in a speech to university students in Capetown, South Africa.
“This work is not complete -- we all know that. Not in those countries where leaders enrich themselves with impunity; not in communities where you can’t start a business, or go to school, or get a house without paying a bribe to somebody. These things have to change. And they have to change not just because such corruption is immoral, but it’s also a matter of self-interest and economics. Governments that respect the rights of their citizens and abide by the rule of law do better, grow faster, draw more investment than those who don’t. That’s just a fact.”
The United States stands ready to work with other nations to bring corrupt individuals to justice, whether through technical assistance and training or working cooperatively to find evidence or stolen assets held abroad. And since corruption knows no borders, it is essential that our joint efforts continue globally.