Grand corruption is a serious issue throughout the world which has led to the development of many different laws. The United Nations defines grand corruption as "corruption that pervades the highest levels of a national Government, leading to a broad erosion of confidence in good governance, the rule of law and economic stability ("United Nations Convention against Corruption")." Grand corruption is such a concerning issue because of the costs associated with this deceptive activity. Eliminating grand corruption has become a major quest of NGOs such as the UN. According to an article entitled "The Global Programme against Corruption" published by the UN, efforts to raise awareness about corruption have been made since 1994. The report explains that corruption has an insidious nature and can have devastating impacts on entire countries and their citizens. The report asserts that "Corruption not only distorts economic decision-making, it also deters investment, undermines competitiveness and, ultimately, weakens economic growth. Indeed, there is evidence that the social, legal, political and economic aspects of development are all linked, and that corruption in any one sector impedes development in them all ("The Global Programme against Corruption")."
The report also explains that both the public and private sector have begun to recognize the serious problems that arise as a result of corruption ("The Global Programme against Corruption"). The consequences of corruption include the inability to govern effectively and adverse effects on economic stability and growth. As such, there must be national and international legislation and policies designed to decrease the amount of corruption that occurs. In many nations throughout the world legislation addressing such corruption appears to be in their early development. Additionally, accurate evaluations about the type and extent of domestic and transnational corruption are difficult to acquire ("The Global Programme against Corruption").
The purpose of this discussion is to determine and evaluate the role of the United Nations, governments and other organizations in combating the problem of grand corruption throughout the world. More specifically, the investigation will focus on United Nations convention Against Corruption (UNAC).The research will also focus on the role of the African Charter, international courts and the World Bank play in curbing corruption. The research will illustrate why grand corruption is so detrimental to nations around the world.
How adequate is the United Nations convention against corruption equipped to provide effective punishment for grand corruption?
The United Nations has attempted to decrease the level of grand corruption throughout the world using several different tactics. This tactics include the development of a code of conduct, the creation of specialized anti-corruption agencies, and the strengthening of governments and judicial institutions throughout the world. In addition the United Nations convention Against Corruption (UNAC) was developed in 2000 with resolution 55/61. The reason for the development of this convention came when the General Assembly recognized the need for "an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime…decided to establish an ad hoc committee for the negotiation of such an instrument in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ("United Nations Convention against Corruption")."
However, there is still a great deal of corruption throughout the world. As such questions as to whether the policies of the UN are adequate and provide effective punishment are difficult to answer. On the one hand there has been some progress made in certain countries and as it relates to certain types of corruption.
On the other hand the amount of grand corruption in other countries or regions of the world have increased. The primary difficulty associated with convention involves the way that it was drafted and the ability of the UN to enforce certain standards that the convention was intended to address. Argandona (2007) explains that the convention is a rather limited instrument as a result of the way it was drafted because it gives priority to both economic and political interests as opposed to human interests. One of the most problematic aspects of the way that the convention was drafted is that it does not obligate the signatory countries to make certain actions punishable by law. For instance acts such as trading in influence, bribery of a foreign official, illicit enrichment or abuse of public functions are not criminal activities in many of the signatory countries.
There are a number of provisions contain vague language such as "shall consider adopting, and may adopt as it pertains to certain codes of conduct. In addition many of the articles contained in the convention consists of safeguard clauses which further reduce the obligations of the states parties if any conflict arises between the state's constitution and the ability of that state to enforce certain laws related to grand corruption. As such the development of uniform standards to address the issue of grand corruption cannot always be met because they are sometimes in conflict with the constitution of some signatory states.
Argandona (2007) asserts that the lack of obligation regarding acts such as bribery is of particular concern because there is often a blur in the lines between the private and public sector in many of the signatory countries. More specifically as it pertains to outsourcing and globalization. When countries do not have laws or enforcement strategies to deal with these activities corruption in the private sector often becomes prevalent and such corruption makes it difficult to control corruption in the public sector. In addition the convention does not make it obligatory for corruption within a political party to be punishable by law or a criminal act. The author points out that the whole issue of political corruption is handled in a vague manner throughout the convention. This is in spite of the fact that this type of corruption is amongst the most common and most detrimental.
Argandona (2007) does point out that the conventions failure to lay out a clear standard against political corruption is due, in part, to the various ways that political campaigns are run in different countries. Instead "The criminalization of bribery of officials of public international organizations and other related issues was left for discussion by the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention, to be held after the Convention comes into force ()."
Argandona (2007) also asserts that some of the articles of the convention are so unclear that they can be interpreted in many different ways and in some cases this creates a difficult scenario for multinational corporations that operate in different regions of the world. The articles of the convention are also problematic because there are no mechanisms in place to penalize States Parties that fail to meet their obligations under the Convention. This results in the dilemma of implementation and enforcement. Such difficulties arise because of the absence of monitoring and surveillance mechanisms that are inclusive of representatives of civil society and companies (Argandona, 2007). The author contends that such mechanisms are absolutely essential to guaranteeing that the convention is successful.
The primary rationale for the use of monitoring mechanisms is to persuade governments to recognize the principles of the Convention and then implement the Convention (Argandona, 2007). This is an essential step because of the various political, social, economic, and technical issues that come with the implementation of the convention. These issues include the passing of new laws; the struggle with those who stand to lose from changes in the law and staffing and funding of the agencies that will be responsible for enforcing the new provisions (Argandona, 2007). The experiences of other initiatives already under way have been encouraging (Argandona, 2007). As such, the delay in implementing monitoring mechanisms indicates a lack of political will and an unwillingness to fight against corruption (Argandona, 2007).
The monitoring process is essential because it presents the government of a country with external accountability through inspections, reports and discussion sessions (Argandona, 2007). In addition the monotring process is essential for the development of a round-table for governments and pressure groups and permits civil society and the private sector to partake in these tasks (Argandona, 2007; Heimann, 2005a, b). There are other possible advantages in the short-term, including an enhancement in the value of legislative and institutional change, greater involvement by civil society such as companies, and non-governmental organizations in the battle to eliminate corruption. Other advantages include the documenting of good practices and experiences from nations around the world in addition to the assemblage of a body of case law to assist in the reliable interpretation of the Convention. The author also explain that
"Given the diversity of the parties to the Convention and the attitude of some of them during the negotiations, who argued that the monitoring processes violated their sovereignty, it was particularly difficult to agree on an effective monitoring procedure that was acceptable to all. The task of supervision and monitoring will be carried out, in principle, through the Conference of States Parties to the Convention. The Conference will be held for the first time "not later than one year following…