Yearly Archives

2015

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Fighting corruption in infrastructure – a must for achieving the 2030 Agenda

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In September 2015, world leaders from 193 UN member states gathered in New York to adopt the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To achieve this universal agenda, we’ll need robust and transparent investment in infrastructure to lay the physical foundations for progress on many of the goals. 

Agenda 2030 aims for a world that is profoundly different from the one we know today: free from poverty, environmentally secure for future generations, prosperous, more equal, just, peaceful and inclusive, and better governed. Corruption in the infrastructure sector represents a major threat to this vision.

These were among the challenges debated at a recent International Conference on Public Construction Transparency, organised by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

Sustainable Development Goal 9 on resilient infrastructure and sustainable industralization is the most direct commitment to accountable investments in the construction sector. Other goals — such those on education, health, water and sanitation, climate change, energy, sustainable cities or the conservation of ecosystems — will all require important infrastructure developments to reach their targets.

According to the OECD, emerging economies alone will need US$22 trillion of investments in infrastructure over the next 10 years. The Global Construction 2030 report forecasts that the value of global construction will reach $17.5 trillion by 2030.

Transparency International warns that up to one third of this investment could be lost to corruption. Data from the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) further suggests that a similar amount could be wasted through mismanagement and inefficiency. These figures are staggering. 

Quality infrastructure is positively related to human development. In contrast, high levels of corruption in the construction sector can lead to the wrong decisions on the kind of infrastructure needed, excessively high prices being paid for construction design and implementation. It can also result in poor quality of construction materials, which can lead to disasters and loss of human lives. There is also growing evidence that high levels of corruption and the injustice that comes with it, fuel social tensions and conflict.

Given the magnitude of potential losses to corruption in the infrastructure sector, mounting to trillions of dollars annually on a global scale, clean construction is also of paramount importance for achieving Goal 16 on building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. It will indeed not be possible to have peace and security when corruption siphons of trillions of tax payers’ money and development funds. This deprives communities of important development dividends, denying justice, safety, security and services to a large portion of the population.

Targets 16.4 and 16.5 therefore put the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows at the centre of the peace and development agenda. There can be no development without peace, and there can be no peace without development. We will fail on both these aspirations, if we remain unable to substantively reduce all forms of corruption.

Quality infrastructure can transform economies, boost employment, provide safer environments and improve lives.  Investments in fighting corruption in public infrastructure therefore guarantee important returns in human development. Increased transparency and accountability in the construction sector is thus a sine qua non for a successful outcome of the 2030 development agenda.

Click here for original article.

By Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

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Let’s talk about corruption. But let’s start with transparency and accountability

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According to the Barometer of the Americas nearly 70 percent of Latin American interviewees admitted having been asked for a bribe in the past year. But there’s room for hope: 86.3 percent of interviewees stressed that paying a bribe as unjustifiable, according to the same survey. In recent years Latin Americans have increasingly demanded more accountable, open and transparent governments that can readily respond to citizens’ needs. In this context, adopting transparency and accountability practices and mechanisms are essential create trust, dialogue and cooperation between institutions, private sector and civil society. These are necessary steps to boost institutions and public authorities’ legitimacy.The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Latin America and the Caribbean has been enhancing the capacity of governments, civil society and the private sector in designing and implementing tools to improve transparency and accountability—essential for the region’s democratic governance.
 
The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and in particularly SDG 16, explicitly link good governance with peace, justice and inclusive societies, emphasizing crisis prevention mechanisms and transparency as crucial steps for strong institutions. Empowering and promoting citizen participation is key. In our region we particularly focus on youth, women, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, who—in spite of the progress—still lag behind, including in terms of political participation.But there are some innovative initiatives out there.For example, in Colombia, UNDP has supported the construction process of the Comprehensive Anti-Corruption Public Policy, in order to strengthen the tools and mechanisms to prevent, investigate and punish corruption. Working at a local level – or with a “territorial policy approach”— we have partnered with 12 regional departments, working with state and non-stake actors to include the population in decision-making processes.

  1. Haiti UNDP has supported the School for the Judiciary by training 190 judges— including from the Electoral Court, Justices of the Peace and Government Commissions—to enhance skills, share best practices from other countries in the region and establish links and networks for South-South Cooperation.
  2. Peru UNDP has a Transparency and Ethics in Public Institutions initiative with the Peruvian Press Council which encourages institutions at all government levels to comply with the Transparency and Access to Information Law. We train officials, promote citizen oversight and accountability. This project is conducted with special emphasis on Municipalities and Regional Governments to introduce the concepts and practices of open government, which encourages that citizens access documents and government proceeding, enabling effective public oversight, among other matters.
  3. Costa Rica, our “Transparency and Accountability in the Associations of Rural Water Supply” initiative has influenced the management of drinking water and sanitation at the local level, with results seen in several communities, which now also abide to guidelines on participation, transparency and accountability. The initiative stems from UNDP’s Water Governance Facility partnership with the Stockholm International Water Institute and has led to a new implementation plan that has helped authorities apply guidelines, train staff and managers at the local and national levels with improved water management.
  4. Chile, UNDP has supported the Commissions of Ethics and Transparency in the upper and lower houses of parliament by designing a model that improves integration, functions and procedures. Civil society has been involved in decision-making mechanisms, joining such commission and including proposals to promote integrity and transparency, as was the case of the Constitutional Act of Congress bill. This Chile-UNDP initiative was highlighted as a best practice during theOpen Government Partnership Global Summit held in Mexico in October.

These examples show that countries have been advancing to adopt and promote laws and public policies that are crucial to fight corruption in crucial sectors for sustainable development. Health, water, education, environment or public safety sectors have been among the top targets, also using new communication technologies for monitoring and reporting corrupt practices.Of course there is still a long way to go. But we are moving forward towards becoming more transparent and accountable. And that’s crystal clearClick here for original article.

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On the International Anti-Corruption Day, “Carla’s Dreams” music project encourages young people to believe in themselves and break the corruption chain

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On the International Anti-Corruption Day, the Carla’s Dreams music project urges young people of the Republic of Moldova to rely only on their own efforts and break the corruption chain. Their message appears in a short video produced with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Moldova.

The members of Carla’s Dreams said that “The topic of this video is very important for children and young people, as it is imperative for them to understand that confidence in themselves, their skills and knowledge is the greatest power they can have. Grades and results achieved using different tricks like plagiarizing and nepotism can be deceptive. The situations illustrated in this video happened to some of us as well during our school years. This is precisely why we liked the idea of participating in such a project”.

The video will be broadcast by several TV stations with both national and local coverage, as well as shared on social networks.

Dafina Gercheva, UN resident coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Moldova, stated that “Although, at first glance, phenomena such as cronyism, plagiarism and cheating seem minor issues, nevertheless, they trigger and are part of corruption in the education system. We urge young people to break the corruption chain and be confident in what they know, hold and can get as a result of their daily efforts”.

In addition, the UNDP also supported a drawing contest entitled “Talent does not accept bribes. Integrity portrayed in pictures” dedicated to the International Anticorruption Day. The contest gathered over 500 works made by pupils and students of Moldovan art schools and colleges. The competition selection committee analyzed and appointed 13 winning works, while another 26 young artists were offered prices for participation.

The International campaign “Break the Chain of Corruption” is being implemented in Moldova several years in a row on December 9, the International Anti-Corruption Day, within the “Youth for Transparency in the Education” project implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

In addition, as part of this project, students from 22 rural lyceums in 11 rayons of the country were involved in activities aimed at raising awareness and identifying solutions for preventing and combating corruption in schools and promoting academic integrity. Moreover, the young people involved in the event, following their participation in the Fairplay Autumn School, wrote a hymn for youth who want to bring change in the education system. The games played at Fairplay were reproduced by young people in their schools, and also at the National Pupils Council, to raise awareness and encourage youth to act against corruption in the education system.

The International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated internationally since 2003. Beginning with 2009, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have joined efforts to promote this campaign globally and urge governments, the private and non-governmental sectors, the media and citizens worldwide to take action against corruption.

Contact Information

For additional information, please contact Tatiana Solonari, Communications Consultant, JILDP, mail: tatiana.solonari@undp.org, phone: 022-820-840; 069377215

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The Secretary-General Message on International Anti-Corruption Day

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Global attitudes towards corruption have changed dramatically.  Where once bribery, corruption and illicit financial flows were often considered part of the cost of doing business, today corruption is widely — and rightly — understood as criminal and corrosive. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our plan to end poverty and ensure lives of dignity for all, recognizes the need to fight corruption in all its aspects and calls for significant reductions in illicit financial flows as well as for the recovery of stolen assets.

Corruption has disastrous impacts on development when funds that should be devoted to schools, health clinics and other vital public services are instead diverted into the hands of criminals or dishonest officials.

Corruption exacerbates violence and insecurity. It can lead to dissatisfaction with public institutions, disillusion with government in general, and spirals of anger and unrest.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a comprehensive platform for governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and individual citizens. Through prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and assets recovery, the Convention advances global progress toward ending corruption.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, I call for united efforts to deliver a clear message around the world that firmly rejects corruption and embraces instead the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. This will benefit communities and countries, helping to usher in a better future for all.

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Photo Exhibition Because-of-the-Corruption Offers People’s Perspective

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To mark the International Anti-Corruption Day, UNDP and Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI) organized an exhibition with 20 best photos from over 130 that were posted on social networks by more than 100 citizens. The competition for best online photography on the theme “Because-of-the-Corruption” was open to all enabling posting photos on social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with hashtag #fajikorrupsionit.

All displayed photos had powerful messages that were best described by Arbër Elezi, one of the winners when he said: “For me as a teacher at the music school in Gjilan/Gnjilane, it was exceedingly hard to photograph my students collecting trash. They asked me not to publish this picture, but I cannot not publish the harsh reality and the serious situation that they are experiencing.” 

Andrew Russell, the UN Development Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative congratulated all participants in the competition and stated: “Kosovo is not alone in the fight against corruption because it is global war.” Artan Canhasi of KDI, a branch of Transparency International for Kosovo remarked that the photos represent the civic courage to report corruption and its effects as seen by the people”.

Photo competition that used #fajikorrupsionit, #zbogkorupcije, and #becauseofcorruption   as keywords to enter the contest was one of the many activities of UNDP’s Support to Anti-Corruption Efforts in Kosovo (SAEK) project funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation, taking place around 9 December, International Anti-Corruption Day.

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Tackling corruption in the construction sector of Mongolia

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Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – Construction companies face corruption risks throughout all steps of construction from submission of building permit requests until the State Committee endorses that building meets all technical requirements and standards. Corruption costs affect both small and large construction companies alike, and as a result increases the price paid by consumers. So, what are specific corruption risks at each of these stages and how can we address them? This was the main theme of the discussion held at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia on 23 November 2015 among construction companies, professional associations, and relevant government agencies.

The discussion was heated and frank, and revealed serious corruption risks and implications.The government entity granting building permits does not take any accountability for damages caused by licensed construction companies. In other words, no one checks if the construction company in question had necessary technical capacity in the first place. When buildings are found to be sub-standard, there is no accountability provision for construction inspectors, who originally signed that the building was fit for use. Lately, instead of asking for bribe money, there have been demands to own shares of construction companies in exchange for different types of permits.

Ms. Bat-otgon, Director of Prevention and Public Awareness, Independent Authority Against Corruption, noted, “Corruption was regarded as mostly related to public sector, but increasingly this is also true for the private sector”. Indeed, investors and owners of construction companies find that it is quite common among mid-level managers to earn money by obtaining discounted construction material, but charging non-discounted prices in formal contracts.

Finally, construction companies emphasized the importance of engaging them in development of various construction related codes and regulations.

The discussion was organized jointly by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia, the Independent Authority Against Corruption, and UNDP, as part of the 2015 International Anticorruption Day campaign. 

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International Workshop for Public Construction Transparency (2-4 December 2015, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

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Hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the workshop brought together more than 70 participants from governments, civil society and international organizations and shared experiences from the Korea’s Clean Construction System and other initiatives around the World. Honorable Won Soon Park, Mayor of Seoul, opened the workshop with his key note speech. More information will be provided soon at: UNDP Seoul Policy Centre.

Before the opening session of the workshop, the honorable Mayor also invited the high level representatives in his office and served the Korean traditional tea.

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Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network special event at St. Petersburg UNCAC conference

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UNDP, UNODC, and the Kingdom of Morocco supported the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network (ACINET) in organising a special event that focused on the Arab region on the sidelines of the 6th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 2-6 November 2015.

The special event, “The UNCAC and the ACAC: Synergies and Implications for Anti-Corruption Legislations in the Arab Region”, was held on 4 November. Over 60 representatives from delegations including ministers, representatives from national authorities and civil society organizations attended the event, which included as panelists Ashaf Rifi, Chair of ACINET and Minister of Justice of Lebanon, Mohamed Moubdi, Minister in charge of Public Service and Modernization of the Administration in Morocco, Jason Reichelt, representing UNODC, and Arkan El Seblani representing UNDP.

This event presented a comparative analysis of the UNCAC and the Arab Convention against Corruption (ACAC), along with an update on the status of related laws in Arab countries and the linkages between the two Conventions and the 2030 Development Agenda, namely Goal 16.

Discussions focused on related challenges and needs for Arab countries, and reiterated the commitment to deepen regional collaboration on common priorities in the framework of ACINET. Participants also stressed the need to deepen UNCAC implementation efforts, namely in relation to corruption prevention and international cooperation, while also supporting the implementation of the ACAC based on a process or mechanism to monitor its implementation.

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Jordan goes “beyond the minimum”

jordan-cover-uncacJORDAN has completed the national review of its implementation of Chapter II of the UN Convention against Corruption dealing with preventive measures. This includes related policies and practices; establishment of specialized bodies; reforming of the civil service; adoption of codes of conduct for public officials; integrity in the judiciary and prosecution; integrity in public procurement and public financial management; public reporting and access to information; transparency in the private sector; the participation of society and prevention of money laundering.

Under the leadership of the Jordanian Anti-Corruption Commission (JACC), Jordan adopted a participatory approach in conducting the review, where a national team was formed consisting of officials from concerned ministries and agencies as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society. The national team was divided into four groups based on their expertise. Each group reviewed a selection of the aforementioned preventive measures, while rapporteurs from JACC were assigned to facilitate the process and support each group, with technical assistance provided by UNDP’s regional project on Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries (ACIAC).

The participatory process was launched on September 2013 following a training organized by ACIAC in partnership with JACC. The training provided participants with knowledge and skills necessary to conduct a comprehensive and effective review of the selected measures.

The final report was finalized and launched in a ceremony on 22 November in the presence of key Jordanian officials and representatives of national stakeholders and UNDP.

The report may be accessed at: http://www.jacc.gov.jo/Portals/0/JordanNationalReviewofCorruptionPrevention.pdf