Corruption, so to speak, impedes economic development by distorting markets and collapsing private sector integrity. And more so corruption is a global phenomenon which requires a collaborative effort to prevent and eradicate.
It was against such backdrop that in its resolution 55/61 of 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly recognised that an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (resolution 55/25, annex I) was desirable, and decided to establish an ad hoc committee for the negotiation of such an instrument in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Subsequently, the international community adopted the UN Convention against Corruption in 2003, and came into force in 2005. Suffice it to state that the UN Convention against Corruption is the first meaningful universal instrument enacted to prevent and combat corruption with a view to networking and building on a broad international consensus.
In a grand scheme of things, the prevention and eradication of corruption should be a collaborative effort amongst governments and other interested parties with the support and involvement of groups outside the government such as civil societies, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.
If, indeed, the prevention and eradication of corruption is a synergistic venture, why is it then that the successive governments and their Attorney Generals have woefully failed to cooperate with other interested parties to investigate, prosecute and retrieve the stolen monies from the remorseless nation wreckers?
“When public money is stolen for private gain, it means fewer resources to build schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment facilities.
“When foreign aid is diverted into private bank accounts, major infrastructure projects come to a halt. Corruption enables fake or substandard medicines to be dumped on the market, and hazardous waste to be dumped in landfill sites and in oceans. The vulnerable suffer first and worst (Ban Ki-moon, 2009).”
“Corruption also strikes at the heart of democracy by corroding rule of law, democratic institutions and public trust in leaders. For the poor, women and minorities, corruption means even less access to jobs, justice or any fair and equal opportunity” (UNDP 2016).
What exactly is corruption?
“Corruption is the misuse of public power (by elected politician or appointed civil servant) for private gain. “Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power (by heritage, education, marriage, election, appointment or whatever else) for private gain”.
How is bribe treated under the law?
In fact, different countries have different responses to the preceding question, by definition as well as interpretation. In some jurisdictions, for instance, the courts may consider an oral offer of a bribe not as attempted bribery, unless the briber takes further steps. An OECD report, however, suggests that broad definitions of corruption may be one reason why prosecutions are so low.
Apparently, the OECD, the Council of Europe and the UN conventions do not explicitly define “corruption””, but have establish a range of corrupt offences. For example, the OECD Convention establishes the offence of bribery of foreign public officials, while the Council of Europe adds trading influence and bribing of domestic public officials as well.
Besides, the UN Convention covers embezzlement, misappropriation of property and obstruction of justice. In fact, one mostly-cited mystery is distinguishing illegal trading in influence from legal lobbying.
Interestingly, the Council of Europe Convention criminalises trading of “improper influence”, i.e., corrupt intent.
On the other hand, the UN Convention only covers peddlers who “abuse” their influence. While the OECD glossary notes that international definitions of corruption for policy purposes are common, and cites “abuse of public or private office for personal gain” as a useful example for policy development” (OECD 2007).
Favouritism, Cronyism and Nepotism
In terms of meanings, favouritism, nepotism and cronyism all involve abuses of discretion. Even though some countries do not criminalise the conduct, (Article 7 of the UN Convention against Corruption covers merit selection without even mentioning nepotism).
Suffice it to stress that those violations usually involve not a direct personal benefit to an official but promote the interests of those related to the official, whether through family, political party, tribe, or religious group.
In fact, a fantastically corrupt official who hires a relative (nepotism) or a friend (cronyism), does so, in exchange, not often of a bribe but of the less tangible benefit of advancing the interests of others connected to the official.
The unlawful favouring of – or discrimination against – individuals can be based on a wide range of group characteristics: tribe, religion, geographical factors, political or as well as personal or organizational relationships, such as friendship or shared membership of clubs or associations.
The revoltingly cyclical corrupt practices amongst the political elites have resulted in underdevelopment, excessive public spending, less efficient tax system , needless high public deficit and destabilization of national budgets, heightened capital flight and the creation of perverse incentives that stimulate income-seeking rather than productive activities.
K. Badu, UK.