Concerted effort key in war against corruption

Every year on December 9, the world comes together to celebrate the International Anti-Corruption Day.

Every year on December 9, the world comes together to celebrate the International Anti-Corruption Day.

The aim is to stimulate awareness about the huge impact of corruption and how best to prevent and combat it within the public and private sectors.

For example, every year across the globe an estimated $1 trillion is paid in bribes, while $2.6 trillion is thought to be stolen annually through corruption—a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of global GDP.

For developing countries in particular, corruption is arguably the most serious of crimes. It undermines social and economic development, impacts national security and affects the ability of millions of citizens to access adequate education, healthcare and other basic public services. 

Of course, it is not just government which bears responsibility for this: Private sector companies share the burden as it is often only with their collusion with corrupt public officials that corruption can take place.

This year the Blue Company and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are partnering to assist the Kenyan private sector in the fight against corruption.

The Blue Company Initiative is key to encouraging better corporate governance in the Kenyan private sector, and in doing so, fight corruption.

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It has already certified more than 500 companies across East Africa. But this is just the start.

As Secretariat to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), UNODC is working on a global scale with governments and the private sector to promote fair competition and support countries in developing and strengthening their anti-corruption infrastructure. UNCAC is among our primary tools for advancing the fight.

In the 16 years since its adoption, the Convention against Corruption has achieved near-universal status. As of June 2018, there were 186 State Parties.

The convention is a unique document, and is broadly drafted. It requires State Parties to take numerous measures to combat corruption, including in the private sector and, importantly in this context, in the field of bribery.

In Kenya, the Bribery Act 2016 came into force on January 13, 2017. It provides a framework for the prevention, investigation and punishment of bribery and related offences.

It imposes a responsibility on private entities and individuals to take measures to prevent bribery and, in the event that bribery takes place, to report it.

For the Bribery Act to be effectively implemented in Kenya, and so for corruption to be tackled, the private sector must be fully engaged.

With this in mind, UNODC and the Blue Company seek to help the private sector adopt anti-corruption policies that are aligned with the convention and to put in place the checks and balances needed to improve transparency and strengthen accountability.

UNODC will support Blue Company certified companies to put in place - and periodically review - appropriate bribery, risk assessment and due diligence procedures, and internal communication and whistle-blowing procedures.

Through such partnerships, the government, civil society groups as well as the private sector will be able to share information among one another that will in turn lead to detection and disruption of corruption links.

Reporting Mechanism

The use of the Integrated Public Complaints Reporting Mechanism to address complaints received by key state institutions also plays a key role in the fight against corruption.

While various entities have been at the forefront in fighting corruption, there is need to have in place a globally recognised benchmark to track and encourage compliance efforts by companies.

The initiative asks business leaders to sign a set of principles, thereby committing to a zero tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption and agreeing to establish an internal anti-corruption programme.

United against corruption, we can contribute to the realisation of Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — to foster a culture of lawfulness, help build accountable and transparent institutions, and enable people everywhere to access opportunities and live healthy and productive lives.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, and every day forward, let us all take a stand for integrity and the future generations.

Ms Waceke is head of The Blue Company Secretariat. Mr Amado is regional representative,  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

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International Anti-Corruption Day