Monday, December 11, 2006

UN Convention against Corruption: will it have teeth?


Transparency International released its Global Corruption Barometer 2006 on Dec 7 last week, in advance of the third annual International Anti-corruption Day.

Transparency International looks at corruption from several angles. Its Global Corruption Barometer tries to show corruption through the eyes of ordinary citizens, by polling around 59,000 people in 62 different countries. It asks people their opinions about which public sectors are most corrupt, and which spheres of life are most affected by corruption (family, politics, business), and how their government is doing in its fight against corruption. This Barometer report investigates bribery particularly--who pays what to whom, why and how much--particularly regarding the forces of order (police, military, civil servants).

International Anti-corruption Day is in recognition of the signing of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Mexico three years ago. This agreement (in PDF here) came into force last year: 140 countries have now signed on, and 80 have ratified. DR Congo is not among them.

From 10 to 14 December, the UNCAC countries will meet in Jordan to decide the fate of the agreement: the funding of monitoring, how to ensure compliance and secure the repatriation of stolen wealth, among other issues. Compliance, or enforcement of norms, and the repatriation of stolen wealth are of obvious relevance to numerous African countries, particularly those with natural resources and little effective control over their extraction.

On unregulated resource extraction in Africa, the lobby group Fatal Transactions is active and interesting. Their March 2006 report on extractive mining in Katanga, DRC, is worth a look: "The State vs. the People. Governance, mining and the transitional regime in the Democratic Republic of Congo".

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