January 30, 2008

UN Convention against Corruption

Posted in Malaysia, Outside Malaysia, The Cause at 12:53 pm by egalitaria

The CPPS (where I work) is part of the Coation of Civil Society Friends to the UNCAC and it’s great to be here in Bali where the UN Convention against Corruption is taking place this week. (Bali seems to be the favourite for international meetings, after having completed the recent UN Forum on Climate Change in December 2007)

This is the 2nd Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC, the first one having been in Jordan last year. The UNCAC has been signed by 140 countries and Malaysia is one of them, but unfortunately we have not yet ratified the convention. This is unfortunate but as I understand it we are on the way towards ratifying, subject to an amendment of one small part of our Act and then agreement by the Cabinet. This would be a an Excellent step, because we’d lead the way in ASEAN. Ratifying it means we need to comply with all the requirements of the Convention.

This includes, very importantly, the need to include civil society (Article 13) in the decision-making processes and have proper consultations with them. The trend in the conference here is the need for a review mechanism, so that all countries having ratified the convention should be monitored to check that they are complying with the requirements.

If you don’t review your activities, how can others know you are sticking by the rules? (basically)

It’s exciting to see the dynamic exchange of views over here, and to understand how exactly international decisions are made at these high-level meetings. The positions taken by different countries, regions and blocks. The persuasive skills of some over the other, the role civil society plays (we are here as observers and to gauge the readiness of countries in agreeing to move the UNCAC forward).

Will be writing a full report on this soon – for work lah. 🙂 Will see how to support existing work on anti-corruption in Malaysia, and to complement it through other work. Of course at the end of the day it is a political issue but we are attempting to tackle it from a technical framework, as follows:

C = M + D – A (equation from Professor Klitgaard, who gave a lecture here)

Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Accountability

Corruption tends to flourish “where officials have a monopoly power over a good or service, unlimited discretion in deciding who gets that good or service or how much they get, and there is no accountability whereby others can see what that person is deciding.”

Improving the positive incentives for municipal officials, including reforming civil service salary structures to make them competitive with their counterparts in the private sector; promoting competition in the public and private sectors, which would include privatisation, contracting out and, where necessary, the elimination of corrupt municipal programmes; simplifying rules and regulations and informing citizens of their rights and the service standards to which they are entitled; enhancing accountability and transparency through clear standards of conduct, openness in bidding and contracting, and institutional reforms.

Get in touch with me if you wanna know more about these very technical, practical ways of combating corruption!

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