The UN Convention Against Corruption (3)

by Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai

Consequences of Corrupt Practices:

Such unwholesome behaviour sooner than later transcends local jurisdiction and becomes a “trans-national phenomenon that affects all societies and economies, making international cooperation to prevent and control it, essential.”9

The illicit acquisition of personal wealth can be particularly damaging to democratic institutions, national economies and the rule of la! w.10 The UN Convention on Corruption is an attempt “to prevent, detect and deter in a more effective manner international transfer of illicitly acquired assets and to strengthen international cooperation in asset recovery. 11

The awareness has increased that the prevention and eradication of corruption is a responsibility of all states and that they must cooperate with each other, with the support and involvement of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organization and community based institutions, if their efforts in this area are to be effective.12

It is commendable that there now exists “multilateral instruments to prevent and combat occupation”.13

The Purpose of Legal Regulations:

Since moral preaching are ineffective to prevent corruption, there is need for local and international legislative efforts. The main purpose of legal regulation is “to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public prosperity.14

Measures to Combat Corruption:

The United Nations Convention on Corruption is a clear focus on well-known principles of the right laws. The logical relationship between the norms and the problems they address are clear. The legal principles adumbrated in the document are both juridical and descriptive statements of values. The violations of these values are condemned and are punishable. The norms propagated in the document also conform with generally accepted legal systems of the world. This will make the international cooperation evinced in the Convention possible.

Article 5(2) states that “each party shall endeavour to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption. A periodic evaluation of the relevant laws is recommended so that outdated laws do not hinder the fight against corruption. Both regional and international organizations are admonished to cooperate by adopting joint measures and strategies15 to combat corruption. The establishment of permanent institutions should supplement ad hoc measures.

The Convention encourages the dissemination of knowledge on corruption in the various states so that information dissemination could lead to a cross-fertilisation of ideas on the subject.

Specific Sections of the Convention:

Articles 7 & 8 of the Convention exhaustively examined the issues of corrupt practices by officials in the public sector. It recommends that retired civil servants and public servants be recruited into the State bodies charged with corruption, detection and prevention.16

Efficiency, transparency, and objective criteria such as merit, equity and aptitude are considered vital attributes in all those charged with the onerous duty of fighting corruption and corrupt practices.17

Adequate procedures for the training, selection and remuneration of staff and those who work in the various segments of the anti-corruption crusade are the duties of all states. There should be Codes of Conduct which should apply to everyone in the fight against corruption, because failure to set standards for officials and volunteers could create peculiar problems of their own. The absence of regulatory measures could defeat the objectives of the Convention. So, both “legislative and administrative processes in harmony with the domestic law” of states18 are important. Above all, these must be reviewed from time to time.

In order to minimize political corrupt! ion, the funding of political parties, the selection of candidates to vie for high political office and the subsequent elections should be consistent with Electoral Laws and Practice as enshrined in the Constitution. The electoral process must check conflict of interests between those who supervise the elections and those they have a duty to screen for public office.

The proper behaviour of public officers and all those who administer state affairs is the subject of Article 8 of the Convention on Corruption. It emphasizes the importance of! the existence of “standards of conduct for the correct, honourable and proper performance of public functions”. The Convention urges states to adhere to those principles set out in “regional, inter-regional and multilateral organizations such as the International Code of Conduct for Public Officials contained in the annex to the General Assembly Resolution 51759 of 12 December, 1996”.19 Article 7(4) imposes a duty on Supervisory Officials to report cases of corruption to the higher chain of command so that necessary investigations could be carried out. In order for this to be practicable, high public officers must be people of integrity and honour.

Article 5 of the Convention, deals with a Fundamental issue in the anti-corruption enterprise. It strongly recommends that “public officials should make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter alia, their outside activities, employment, investment, assets, substantial gifts or benefits from which conflict of interest may result to their functions as public officials.20

Those who have studied morbid anatomy and its forensic investigations into purification processes are more likely to understand better, the effect of substantial gifts given in the back streets. An official is reduced to a loaf of bread after accepting gratifications from benevolent and sympathetic undertakers:

Substantial gifts disembowel public officials and render them manipulatable. This is why “each state, shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law,21 take disciplinary measures against corrupt enrichment.

Corruption22 in the management of public finance is a veritable area for corrupt practices. Every state must at various times procure goods and services. This calls for request for contract bids. The processing of contracts is often replete with corrupt practices, in that public officials disclose to those with interest in the bid, the position of things. This unfairness leads to a situation in which honest bidders are outmanoeuvred by smart alecs. The bidding process favours those who are least disposed to perform and the end-product suffers from mediocre handling. Very often, the favoured bidders later ask for contract price adjustment upwards. The eventual consequence is th! at the buildings cost more and are often poorly executed. Transparency and objective criteria”23 should guide government procurements, contract awards and other financial management of public finance.

All information about a tender or contract must be widely disseminated for all those who have an interest to prepare their tenders, consult with their financiers, architects, structural engineers and other consultants in order to enable them make informed bids. Time, being of essence, must be adequate. Many prospective bidders have often been cut by shortage of the time allowed for preparations and have been stampeded into hasty evaluations leading to their inability to perform the contacts or poor performance or even abandonment of work on site. This is very common in developing states. The terrain is littered with uncompleted projects resulting from the initial rush to bid. This is why it is very important for governments to ensure transparency, full disclosure of all material facts in order to facilitate the contracts award process, which would eliminate insider informants, insider trading and other malignant practices.

It has been discovered that public officers adopt off-shore strategies to beat back the fight against corruption. The strategies include money-laundering, over-invoicing, payments into overseas accounts, the employment of wealth managers and the purchase of choice apartments and palatial homes abroad.

These illegalities are successful because some international banks and foreign states, which should ask a thieving minister or director by what magical conjurations his meagre monthly salaries and allowances multiply a million- fold, gleefully accept to keep substantial sums in their bank vaults. This trans-Atlantic cooperation in fraud is condemnable, unjust, and destructive of national economies and remains a leprous finger in international financial relations. It is ironic that those intellectuals who are quick to condemn public officers in Africa, Latin America and Asia, refuse to acknowledge the morbidity in the unequal division of lab our in which the developed states purchase commodities at prices they dictate and sell their manufactured goods at the prices they dictate. Then, even the little developing states get is siphoned, through corrupt public officials into the overload bank vaults in Euro-American states. This malady constitutes the most flagrant violation of all the rules, laws and norms entrenched in regional, inter-regional and multilateral legal systems. Yet, the political leaders in “developed states,” who themselves may be blameless, turn a blind eye on trans-boundary corrupt practices.

One is agonizing because in spite of the fact that international morality has remained the recurrent topic of international conferences, the appeal to developed nations’ governments to repatriate obvious stolen wealth to their states of origin, the process of reacting to the evil is slow, haphazard, reluctant and grudgingly being adhere to. It is a living fact that the late Zairean dictator and national rogue, Mobutu Sese Sekou, left immense stolen national wealth in diamonds and real cash in many foreign states and this is known to most foreign governments. Zaire remains poor; its political instability is notorious, vexatious and destructive, all as a result of poverty in a state that should be one of the richest in the world. The cynical attitude of some states that pretend to be concerned about corruption, which they condone or tacitly approve of is vexatious and un-catholic.

9 .United Nations Convention Against Convention..(Preamble)

10 . Ibid.

11 . Ibid.

12 . Ibid

13 . ……….

14 . ibid

15 . Article 5(3) UN Convention on Corruption.

16 .Article 7(1) UN Convention on Corruption.

17 .Article 7(1)(a) UN Convention on Corruption.

18. Article 7(3) UNCC.

19 . Article 7(3).

20 . It can be recalled that after President Bill Clinton left the White House, he had to declare and relinquish some gifts he received while in office.

21 . UNCC, Article 7(6)

22 . Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai, “Corruption and Tribalism in Nigeria.” 2005.

23 . Article 9(1)

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