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War on graft requires concerted efforts with like-minded partners

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MARY WACEKE

By MARY WACEKE
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LUIS LOSADA

By LUIS LOSADA
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Today is International Anti-Corruption Day, an annual event to stimulate awareness about the huge impact of corruption and how best to prevent and combat it in the public and private sectors.

An estimated $1 trillion (Sh100 trillion) is paid in bribes across the world annually, while $2.6 trillion is thought to be stolen through corruption — more than five per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

For developing countries, in particular, corruption is arguably the most serious of crimes.

It undermines social and economic development, impacts national security and affects the ability of millions of citizens to access adequate education, healthcare and other basic public services.

Of course it is not just governments that bear responsibility for this: private sector companies share the burden, as it is often only with their collusion with corrupt public officials that corruption can take place.

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The Blue Company and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are partnering to assist the Kenyan private sector in the fight against corruption.

The Blue Company Initiative is key to encouraging better corporate governance in the private sector and, in doing so, fight corruption.

It has already certified more than 500 companies across East Africa.

As the Secretariat to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), UNODC is working on a global scale with governments and the private sector to promote fair competition and support countries in developing and strengthening their anti-corruption infrastructure. UNCAC is among our primary tools for advancing the fight.

In the 16 years since its adoption, the Convention against Corruption has achieved near-universal status: as of June 2018, it had 186 state parties.

The convention is a unique document and is broadly drafted. It requires state parties to take numerous measures to combat corruption, including in the private sector and, importantly in this context, in the field of bribery.

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In Kenya, the Bribery Act 2016 came into force on January 13, 2017. The Act provides a framework for the prevention, investigation and punishment of bribery and related offences.

It imposes a responsibility on private entities and individuals to take measures to prevent bribery and, in the event that it takes place, report it.

For the Act to be effective, and hence tackle corruption, the private sector must be fully engaged.

With this in mind, UNODC and The Blue Company seek to help the private sector to adopt anti-corruption policies that are aligned with the convention and put in place the necessary checks and balances to improve transparency and strengthen accountability.

UNODC will support Blue Company-certified companies to put in place — and periodically review — appropriate bribery, risk assessment and due diligence procedures and internal communication and whistle-blowing procedures.

The government, civil society groups and the private sector can thus share information that will, in turn, lead to detection and disruption of corruption links.

The use of the Integrated Public Complaints Reporting Mechanism to address complaints received by key state institutions also plays a key role in the fight against corruption.

While various entities have been at the forefront in fighting corruption, there is a need for a globally recognised benchmark to track and encourage compliance.

The initiative asks business leaders to sign a set of principles, thereby committing to a zero-tolerance policy to bribery and corruption and agreeing to establish an internal anti-corruption programme.

United against corruption, we can contribute to the realisation of Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): to foster a culture of lawfulness, help build accountable and transparent institutions and enable people everywhere to access opportunities and live healthy and productive lives.

Today, and every day, let us all take a stand for integrity and the future generations.

Ms Waceke is the head of The Blue Company Secretariat. Mr Losada is an anti-corruption consultant, United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC); [email protected]



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