December 9 is recognised as International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD), and each year the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) present a new IACD campaign. This year’s theme seeks to highlight the important link between anti-corruption and peace, security and development: “Unite the World Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security”.
In 2003, the global community united to endorse a landmark treaty – the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Since then, 190 parties have ratified the Convention’s anti-corruption mandates, demonstrating near-universal consensus on the importance of good governance, accountability, and political commitment. 2023 commemorates the 20th anniversary of the UNCAC, prompting the UN to encourage reflection on the past two decades of anti-corruption efforts:
“As we celebrate this milestone, we reflect on the positive changes brought about by the collective efforts driven by the Convention. Equally crucial is our examination of the remaining gaps that require attention to ensure that this mechanism continues to strengthen in the years ahead.”
Corruption is described as a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country is exempt from corruption, including Australia. It is prevalent in both affluent and less economically developed countries. Corruption has the capacity to affect every facet of society, obstructing peace, security, development, democracy, health, education, the environment, sport, gender equality and justice. According to the UN, corruption “undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to government instability.” It poses a formidable challenge to achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Preventing corruption has the potential to reinforce democracies, governance structures, and civil society. All individuals have a role in uniting against corruption to enhance peace, security and development.
Australia’s National Anti-Corruption Commission
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is an independent agency of the Australian Government tasked with detecting, investigating, and reporting on serious or systemic corrupt conduct in the Australian public sector. Additionally, the NACC educates the public service and the populace about corruption risks and preventative measures. The NACC commenced operations on 1 July 2023.
- The NACC will scrutinise not only politicians but also public officials, staff, government agency employees and contractors for serious or systemic corrupt behaviour. It has retrospective powers to examine incidents predating its establishment.
- Any individual can refer a matter to the NACC, and protections are in place for whistleblowers, journalists and informants.
The Attorney General’s Department outlines the necessity for the NACC: The potential for corruption within government contributes to the decline in trust. Corruption can involve the misuse of government resources, which means there is less available to provide the services Australians need, such as health care, social security, education and national security.
The NACC seeks to prevent corruption in the Commonwealth government by:
- conducting thorough investigations and informing the public about its findings, and
- educating the public sector and the wider community on how to prevent future corruption.
To maintain transparency, the NACC regularly updates the public and media on the progress of their assessment of referrals and investigations:
- Since 1 July 2023, 1532 referrals have been excluded at the triage stage because they do not involve a Commonwealth public official or do not raise a corruption issue.
- 223 referrals are pending triage.
- 58 referrals are currently in active triage.
- 177 referrals are currently under assessment.
- The NACC has opened 13 preliminary investigations. A preliminary investigation helps the Commission decide whether there is a corruption issue that should be further investigated. The Commission can use some of its investigatory powers in a preliminary investigation, such as compelling the provision of information or documents.
- To date, the Commission has opened 8 new investigations, and has referred 3 corruption issues to Commonwealth agencies to which the issues relate for investigation.
- The Commission continues to work on 6 active investigations inherited from the former Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.
Click here for updates from 29 November 2023.
How you can participate in IACD 2023
Participation in International Anti-Corruption Day involves a proactive approach to combating corruption. Here are key ways to participate:
Use social media, educational forums, and local discussions to highlight corruption’s harmful impacts. Campaign for the need to counter all forms of corruption.
Support Anti-Corruption Groups
Help or volunteer with groups dedicated to anti-corruption efforts. Your participation can make a meaningful difference, both locally and globally.
Advocate for transparency and accountability in governmental and commercial practices, and support initiatives that improve transparency in your community and or workplace.
Stand against corruption by reporting any instances of unethical conduct through the appropriate channels.
Understand Anti-Corruption Laws
Increase your knowledge of anti-corruption laws and conventions. Knowing your rights and duties is vital in the battle against corruption.
The fight against corruption is a collective responsibility that requires vigilance, informed action, and commitment from every sector of society. It is essential that we all contribute to creating an environment of integrity, thereby securing the foundations of democracy and sustainable development for the future.
United Against Corruption – International Anti-Corruption Day Webinar
On 7 December 2023, the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) hosted a webinar marking IACD 2023: United Against Corruption – International Anti-Corruption Day Webinar.
IBAC invited interested people to attend this enlightening conversation ahead of International Anti-corruption Day, noting that preventing corruption and upholding integrity is both a collective effort and an individual responsibility.
Integrity agency leaders shared insights about fostering a robust integrity culture in the public sector:
– The Hon Paul Brereton AM RFD SC, Commissioner, NACC
– Stephen Farrow, Acting Commissioner, IBAC
– Deborah Glass OBE, Victorian Ombudsman.
- National Anti-Corruption Commission: Update: referrals, assessment and investigations
- UN Convention against Corruption at 20: Uniting the World against Corruption
- United Against Corruption webinar for International Anti-Corruption Day 2023 (IBAC)
- United Nations Convention against Corruption
- What is the NACC?
A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
Written by Elizabeth Tower and Pauline Bernard
[#UNCAC20, #NACC, #IBAC]