Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has told an audience at the Transparency International-UK Anti-Corruption Lecture 2016 in London that corruption ‘is a scourge which holds in thrall millions of our Commonwealth sisters and brothers, condemning them to servitude, poverty, disease, indignity and misery’.
Secretary-General Scotland said that she has worked with Transparency International formally and informally over the years and that she would continue to do so ‘as long as corruption continues to spread its poison’.
“Corruption steals ideals and subverts innovation. It undermines the inventive and intellectual drive that animates technological progress and cultural creativity, robbing scientists, engineers, artists and athletes of the rewards that are their due,” she said. “I am also determined that the Commonwealth will be in the forefront of innovative thinking and practical action to eliminate the scourge of corruption from institutions of governance and public life at every level, from sport, from trade, and from commerce.”
The audience heard that the Secretary-General was one of the architects of the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act, which is seen by many countries as a gold standard which goes further than the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in tackling the culture causes of corruption.
“My experience as Attorney General and as a practising barrister persuades me that the Commonwealth can bring something very special to international efforts against corruption,” said the Secretary-General.
The Commonwealth is home to 2.4 billion people, a third of the world’s population, 60 per cent of whom are under 30. Also a recent Secretariat review of trade revealed that there is a 19 per cent ‘Commonwealth advantage’ when member countries trade with one another.
“These young people are growing up and setting out on their careers at a time when we face some very daunting global challenges. These are not merely future possibilities, they are very present realities,” Secretary-General Scotland told Transparency International. “High among them is the toll corruption is taking on trade and commerce, on international development and infrastructure projects, and on economic growth and social progress. Fraud and corruption potentially destroys that Commonwealth Advantage and the benefits of having similar institutions.”
The Secretary-General also launched a new book written by the Commonwealth Secretariat, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which brings together guidance on how to tackle corruption and money laundering.
Model Legislative Provisions on Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing, Preventative Measures and Proceeds of Crime, is the first time that various strands of law are brought together, making it easier for countries to adapt or adopt measures into their legal framework.
“This is an excellent resource,” said Secretary-General Scotland. “It is tailor-made to help countries, not just in the Commonwealth but around the world, to implement best practice when it comes to combating corruption, money laundering, funding terrorism, recovering the proceeds of crime and investigating unexplained wealth.”