International Anti Corruption Day is observed on 9th December annually, the world over. It is celebrated to reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations and member states in fighting against corruption at home and as well as across borders.

The main objective of the day and the campaign that follows is to eliminate corruption to make way for a prosperous and content society, across the geographical boundaries. The day involves a lot of activities both in the UN and respective member states, like conferences, speeches, plays, etc to foster a feeling of fighting corruption at home as well as across the borders.

International Anti Corruption Day 2019

The International Anti Corruption Day was observed on Monday, 9th December 2019. The day was observed to raise awareness in people against corruption and its effects on the progress of the society and nation.

Like all the years the theme of this year was also “United against Corruption”.  Extensive campaigning on social media was done in which people were appealed to join in the fight against corruption. People were also asked to print the anti-corruption logo in publication and other events.

The first-ever International anti-corruption day was observed in Panchkula in the state of Haryana in India. Speaking on the occasion, the Chairperson of the Haryana Government Reform Authority (HGRA), Mr. Pramod Kumar, stressed on increasing transparency in government and highlighted the various aspects of corruption.

On Anti-Corruption Day 2019, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on people to develop innovative ideas to win the fight against corruption. The National Accountability Bureau (NBA), the Anti-Corruption Establishment and many other organizations in Pakistan will conduct a social awareness program to spread awareness about corruption. According to the World Bank, about 20 to 40 percent of wealth has been lost due to corruption in the water, transport, and energy sectors.

In 2018,

China hosted the reception of International Anti Corruption Day on 06th December 2018. The Secretary-General of the United Nations congratulated China for its support to fight corruption. There were leaders and representatives from 125 countries who attended the reception and reiterated the pledge to fight corruption.

The Transparency International invited the people across the world to take part to help and make the world corruption-free and fair. This year UNDP and UNODC commemorated the day with the theme “Together, We Are United Against Corruption” and it also marked the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

People also paid tribute to anti-corruption activists who were assassinated because they raised their voice against corruption. People reiterated their pledge that their sacrifices won’t go waste and people will unite together in the fight against corruption and make the world free from the issue of corruption someday.

History of International Anti Corruption Day

The first concrete step towards fighting international corruption came up when the United Nations passed the UNCAC (United Nations Convention Against Corruption) in December 2003; which was drafted on 31st October 2003. UNCAC is a treaty between UN member states, signed on 9th December and came into effect from 14th December 2005. The treaty legally binds the member states of taking steps towards reducing corruption and enforcing law and order. There are five main points stressed upon by the agreement-

 

  • Taking the necessary steps for the prevention of corruption.
  • Enforcing law and order.
  • Cooperating internationally for reducing corruption.
  • Asset recovery and its return to the country of origin.
  • Providing technical assistance and information exchange.

As of today 186 states are party to the treaty which includes 140 signatories and 30 ratifications; along with Non-UN Member states. The Government of India officially validated its consent to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 9th May 2013; reaffirming its commitment to fighting corruption.

The headquarters of the UNCAC is located in Merida in Mexico and New York. The Secretary-General of the United States acts as the depository and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is the secretary to the meetings of the state parties.

The Need for an International Anti Corruption Day

There have been many factors that led to the formation of a common international platform to fight corruption and observe a day dedicated to the cause to create awareness among the members of the government and the general public. Corruption is the most potent threat to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals of 2030.

The total amount of money that is lost due to corruption is disturbing and requires immediate preventive measures if the sustainable development goal is to be achieved. According to an annual estimate by the United Nations, 3.6 trillion dollars are paid in bribe and stolen globally through corruption; which equals more than 5% of global GDP.

The effects of corruption are long-lasting as generations after generations face poverty, deprivation, unemployment, and illiteracy; which have been the results of corruption. Corruption drains the economy of a nation, making the poor getting poorer and vulnerable in the absence of basic amenities like health, education, water, electricity, etc.

Corruption is the major hindrance to the growth of a developing or a developed nation. Corruption restrains growth and also deteriorates law and order situation. The money shunted by illegal means results in deteriorating health, education and falling general economy of a nation. It also restricts industrial growth by discouraging new startups; which find it impossible to do business because of increased cost due to corruption.

 

If left unnoticed the corruption turns the bureaucracy of a state into the breeding ground for corrupt and illegal practices; where the whole motive behind the existence of bureaucracy becomes to solicit bribe by providing individual benefits.

Initially, only bribery and bureaucratic favors were considered as corruption; but, lately, a broader perspective has been adopted. Today along with giving and taking a bribe, influencing the electoral process, disturbing law and order, drug trafficking, human trafficking, giving unjust favor even without money and influencing the judicial process are also considered a crime.

A common unison of nations against international corruption was much needed, mainly in the cases of high-level corruption; where money or assets thus collected through corrupt practices are kept in a foreign nation where the law of the land permits it. The UNCAC provides an agreement for the recovery of such assets and its return to the parent nation.

A Quick Statistics on Corruption

Denmark tops the list by being the least corrupt nation scoring 90%; the United States being 10th in line with 81% score. India shares its rank with China, Brazil and Belarus ranking 79th with 40%.

North Korea ranking 176 with an 8% score is perceived as the most corrupt nation today.

How the International Anti Corruption Day is Observed

The International Anti-corruption Day is organized by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) annually all over the world. The agencies work with their regional partners towards increasing cooperation to curb cross border corruption and also promoting and encouraging the exchange of information.

Prominent personalities, politicians, notable writers, journalists and also the members of the public from various private organizations come forward to reiterate the need to fight corruption and also to reaffirm their faith in a corruption-free society.

The day witnesses many activities across the globe; which includes organizing campaigns and seminars, distributing pamphlets, booklets, and logos and fostering zeal to fight corruption across all the members of the public.

How the Day is Observed in India

In India, the anti-corruption day is observed as an organized event by various government and non- government organizations. Functions are organized to felicitate the whistleblowers who raised their voice against corruption. Essay writing and speech competitions and debates are organized especially for the children; with themes based on corruption to make them aware of its ill effects and also to encourage them to raise their voice against it. The event focuses on spreading awareness through all the levels of society as well as bureaucracy and political classes.

Pamphlets are distributed in public by the local authorities; with phone numbers and addresses to report the incidents of corruption. The complainants are also encouraged by providing the assurance of keeping their details confidential.

What Can You Do?

‘What can I do about it?’ This is the most common reaction we give when asked about our contribution towards reducing corruption. Most people shrug it off as a fact and believe that nothing much can be done but sooner or later conceding to corruption.

But, this is not true and we must understand that it is a fight that can only be won with unity and also that every ‘No’ count. Every ‘No’ that you say to the instance of corruption that you personally encounter in your locality, city, or village is equally important as much the campaign itself is. There are many ways by which we can contribute our bit to the cause. Some of them are narrated below-

  • Stay vigilant for any incident of corruption around you.
  • Be vocal and courageous enough to report it.
  • Remember that every NO counts.
  • Organize events in your locality to spread awareness.
  • Know what responsibilities are entrusted upon the officials and the government.
  • Support and encourage those who have raised their voices.
  • Demand transparency in the functioning of various departments.
  • Spread the word through social media.

Every time you raise your voice against corruption, you contribute to the progress of humanity and lay the foundation of a stable, healthy and happy nation.

Themes on International Anti Corruption Day

Themes play a very important role in an event by spreading the message loud and clear using simple but effective language. Every year since 2003 the UNDC (United Nations Development Program) and the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) remain at the forefront of the campaign and assign themes for the campaign. The themes for the consecutive years are listed below-

  • The theme of Anti-corruption day 2019 is “Together, We Are United against Corruption”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2018-2019 is “Together We Are United Against Corruption”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2016-2017 was – “United Against Corruption for Development, Peace, and Security”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2014-2015 was – “Break the Corruption Chain”.
  • The theme for the International Anti corruption Day 2013 was- “Zero Corruption- 100% Development”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2011-2012 was-“Act Against Corruption Today”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2007-2010 was – Corruption- “Your NO Counts”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2005-2006 was – “You Can Stop Corruption”.
  • The theme for the International Anti Corruption Day 2004 was – “With Corruption Everyone Pays”.

Conclusion

The observance of an International event on corruption; reaffirms the people from all the classes and various parts of the globe that a corruption-free society is possible if we work in unison. It fosters in them the courage to speak up against corruption rather than becoming silent prey to its effects.

Remember that you might be the last to face the wrath of corruption, but sooner or later you too will come under its fold if you chose to remain silent. Moreover, the objective of achieving sustainable development globally by 2030 is possible only if we eliminate corruption.