Breaking the Corruption Chain: Students, Civil Society and Government together for 9 December
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.
These elements were at the heart of the discussions during the International Anti-Corruption Day celebrated on 9 December at the University of Dakar, Senegal, in a regional forum organized by the Centre for Studies and Research - Action on Governance (CERAG) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with the National Office for Combating Fraud and Corruption (OFNAC) and the Faculty of law and Political Science at the UCAD. The theme of the Forum was: "Sanctioning acts of corruption in Africa: Current situation and challenges"
Students, professors, members of civil society and government representatives at Dakar University for 9 December 2014
During the course of the event which brought together over 60 participants, a number of topics were discussed in depth. For instance, students and panellists raised numerous issues affecting the judiciary system in Senegal. Participants noted that the structure of the State itself adds onto these challenges, due to the importance of mutual aid networks in local communities, and that such relations are sometimes perceived as corruptive and illegal from a judicial point of view.
To address these challenges, Mr. Samuel de Jaegere, Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor for UNODC noted that several international agreements against corruption exist, and that we can overcome these obstacles by applying national solutions in accordance with these conventions. This led him to emphasize the importance of civil society engagement against persistent impunity, concluding that ''corruption is a permanent fight for all, and especially you, the students.''
The Forum highlighted the issue of integrity in the public sector as a major element in the fight against corruption. The public service is supposed to set an example to the citizens it serves and should apply and encourage the implementation of international standards and principles both in its operation and in its recruitment. In his message for the International Anti-Corruption Day 2014, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that "Public services must uphold the highest standards of integrity and ensure that appointments are driven by merit. Public servants, as well as elected officials, must be guided by ethics, transparency and accountability."
Organized in partnership with UNODC and the UN Development Programme, the 9 December aims to bring together people from all walks of life in the fight against corruption, serving as a global call for action and raising awareness about the importance of countries ratifying the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Taking back what is lost to corruption is everyone's responsibility - the International Day is observed the world over by governments and civil society organizations, the private sector and the media and the general public.
The UNCAC is a powerful and comprehensive tool in the fight against corruption, which addresses prevention as well as law enforcement, and crucial principles like transparency and public participation in the fight against corruption.