Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of corruption.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the first legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. The Convention provides a unique opportunity for mounting a global response to a global problem, to develop a global language about corruption and a coherent implementation strategy. Although a multitude of international anti-corruption agreements exist, their implementation has been uneven and only moderately successful. This Convention gives the global community the opportunity to address both of those weaknesses and begin establishing an effective set of benchmarks for effective anti-corruption strategies.

The 2004 UNODC assessment mission highlighted corruption in the South Caucasus as one of the most serious impediments to economic development and political reform. At the time of that assessment mission, Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (2003), ranked Georgia jointly in 124th place with Azerbaijan and Armenia in 78th place out of 133 countries. Since that time the measures introduced by the Georgian authorities to tackle corruption has led to a significant improvement in the country’s standing in the TI Corruption Perception Index. The latest Index (2009) shows Georgia now ranking 66th whilst Armenia and Azerbaijan are ranked at 120th and 143rd respectively.

2 September 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today inaugurated the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Vienna.

Addressing the inaugural conference, Mr. Ban said: “The launch of the International Anti-Corruption Academy is a milestone in the efforts of the international community to fight corruption.  It has great potential to advance the goals of the landmark United Nations Convention against Corruption.”

Mr. Ban added that while too often in the past corruption was perceived as a fact of life, today attitudes are changing. “Across the world, intolerance of corruption is growing. The establishment of this Academy responds not only to this increasing sense of outrage and injustice, but also to an urgent need to train the experts we need to conquer this global menace.”

Noting that traditional methods are proving no match for new types of corruption, especially financial crimes, Mr. Ban said that the Academy will nurture a new generation of leaders in the public and private sectors – a global network of talented, like-minded professionals; while its curriculum and activities will complement the technical assistance provided in those areas by the UNODC, guardian of the Convention.

“Although we have come to understand more about the causes and effects of corruption, combating it has proved difficult. One major handicap is that we don’t know how to measure it – a crucial need in our fight against an unseen foe. The best we can do right now is to gauge public perception of corruption. But gauging perception is like measuring smoke rather than seeing the fire,” added Mr. Ban

“The creation of a precise body of knowledge about a poorly researched and little-understood subject will shed more light on murky deals. If we can calculate inflation and GDP, it should not be beyond our abilities to develop an effective and scientific measure for corruption,” he said.

“As knowledge deepens and spreads, it will create the conditions for change, enabling Governments and other stakeholders to make evidence-based policies. Knowledge will also empower communities to become part of the solution rather than mere victims of corruption. Armed with know-how, citizens can claim their rights and shape their own destinies,” said Mr. Ban.

The Academy will offer tailor-made programmes, including courses for practitioners from developing countries. Students will be able to pursue academic degrees while exchanging ideas and networking on campus.

The Academy is the product of collaboration between Austria, UNODC and the European Anti-Fraud Office. The Austrian Government has provided state-of-the-art premises in Laxenburg, near Vienna, to house the Academy, which will become an international organization in 2011. It is the world’s first educational institution dedicated to fighting corruption. It will train policymakers in Governments, the private sector and civil society, as well as professionals such as judges, investigators, prosecutors, police officers, regulators and academics from all over the world.

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