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How the UN Works to Fight Against International Corruption

Corruption is a complex political, social, and economic issue that impacts all countries. Corruption destabilizes democratic governments, impedes economic development, and undermines political stability. Tackling corruption at the national and international levels has been a topic of importance for the United Nations (UN) since its formation. The UN has adopted several anti-corruption policies, the most influential being the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

Here is everything you need to know about the UNCAC, its successes and failures, and how whistleblowers can help fight international corruption.

The UN's Anti-Corruption Work

The UN is an intergovernmental organization founded in October 1945. Because the UN's main purpose is to maintain international peace and promote cooperation among nations, it is a critical player in fighting corruption. For decades, the UN has been raising awareness about corruption and the destructive impact it has on countries. However, the organization did not adopt legally binding regulations until the early 2000s.

United Nations Convention Against Corruption Overview

The UNCAC is an anti-corruption agreement enacted by the UN General Assembly in 2003. The treaty is a multi-pronged document that outlines preventive and punitive measures to fight corruption on a national and international level. The UNCAC seeks to prevent many forms of corruption, including abuse of power, embezzlement, and money laundering.

Currently, 189 member states have ratified the treaty. States that have endorsed the treaty are expected to abide by the treaty's mandatory and non-mandatory provisions. The five conditions in the UNCAC include:

  • Preventive measures

  • Criminalization and law enforcement

  • International cooperation

  • Asset recovery

  • Technical assistance and information exchange

The UNCAC details the importance of preventing corruption in the public and private sectors. The treaty outlines several prevention tactics, such as creating anti-corruption boards and better transparency in financing political parties and elections.

The UNCAC Coalition and the Global Anti-Corruption Cities Network

To help monitor and promote the proper implementation of the treaty, the UNCAC Coalition was formed in 2006. The coalition is a worldwide network of over 350 civil society organizations in more than 100 countries. Along with monitoring implementation activities, the alliance advances discussions on anti-corruption topics, including:

  • Access to information

  • Beneficial company ownership transparency

  • Protection of Whistleblowers and Anti-Corruption Activists

In addition to the coalition's work, the UN established the Global Anti-Corruption Cities Network (GACCN) initiative in 2021 to advance its anti-corruption work. The objectives of GACCN are to exchange anti-corruption best practices, encourage networking among like-minded nations, and promote global anti-corruption advocacy networks.

International Anti-Corruption Day

The UN General Assembly designated December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day when it adopted the UNCAC in 2005. Every year, seminars, campaigns, and events take place to highlight the work of the UN and remind citizens to speak out against corruption. The events are organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Notable journalists, politicians, personalities, and writers have participated in International Anti-Corruption Day in past years.

UN Anti-Corruption Successes

The UN's anti-corruption work, mainly through the UNCAC, has contributed to the creation of new institutions and the enaction of several anti-corruption policies and laws around the globe. Examples include:

  • Anti-Corruption Commission Bill

  • The Criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act

  • Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act

  • Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Act

  • Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act of 2006

Another example of success is the creation of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), which has helped provide various mechanisms for local citizens to report fraud and corruption.

UN Anti-Corruption Challenges

Serious efforts to stem corruption are just beginning in most countries, with many nations requiring significant technical assistance and policy guidance to execute initiatives properly. Another challenge is the gap between laws, policies, institutions, and their effectiveness. The UN works with member states and civil society organizations to address these challenges and implement anti-corruption action plans.

How Whistleblowers Can Help Fight Global Corruption

Whistleblowing is one of the most efficient methods to prevent corruption around the globe. These disclosures are imperative to uncover fraud, wrongdoings, and scandals that are harmful to societies' safety and economic prosperity. International laws have provided protections to whistleblowers since 2003, and many U.S. laws reward citizens who disclose information. Using statutes such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act, and the Dodd-Frank Act, the U.S. government has awarded almost $8 billion to whistleblowers since 1986.

Work With an Expert

If you have information about national or international government corruption, contact us at Piacentile, Stefanowski & Associates LLP, also known as Whistleblowers International. We evaluate your information confidentially and free of charge. We do not charge you anything unless and until we secure you a monetary reward, and even then, it is based on a percentage of your recovery. Thanks for reading!