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LIVEBLOG: News and views from the worlds biggest anti-corruption conference

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 12 Nov 2010 09:00 GMT
Author: Tim Large
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Our correspondents are blogging live from the International Anti-Corruption-Conference in Bangkok, a biennial meeting of world leaders, academics and activists. This year's theme is "Restoring Trust - Global Action for Transparency". Stay tuned!

(Please note that the time is local time in Bangkok)

SATURDAY 13

1830 - The 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference ends with the Bangkok Declaration which covers peace and security, natural resources, climate governance, accountability in the corporate world and the Millennium Development Goals.

1800 – The closing session ends.

1715 – Changing attitudes towards corruption starts to some extent with children, says World Economics Forum Chief Business Officer Robert Greenhill. “When they go from primary to secondary school is it because of merit, because they worked hard and studied hard or is it because of contact and money? If there’s merit in the education system, which is often the first time children come into contact with broader society and institutions, that creates a belief that society can be fair and merit can come.”

1650 – In corrupt societies, Collier goes on, the politicians who succeed do so through a system of patronage that is financed by looted public funds. This means the political class is selected from among the corrupt. “Think of the costs of having a crook as your minister of transport,” he says.

1630 – There’s been a major structural shift in the world economy in the past five years which has increased corruption – namely rising commodities prices, says Paul Collier, an Oxford University economics professor. “Commodity movements invariably lead to construction movements and unfortunately the two most corrupt sectors on earth are natural resources and construction,” he notes.

“The rise in commodities prices has produced an unprecedented opportunity for the poorest countries. Not only are they getting higher prices but they are the last frontiers on earth for resource discovery. This is their big opportunity for transformation, for prosperity, and if history repeats itself, it will be the biggest missed opportunity,” he warns.

1600 – Here are a few thoughts from the closing session titled “Restoring trust: global action for transparency”.

1330 – The session ends.

1234 – How realistic is it for companies looking to do business in Africa to expect that third parties – such as suppliers and agents - will adhere to their stringent anti-bribery rules? Boakye says it is not impossible, citing the example of telecoms firm Celtel, which was founded by Sudanese-born entrepreneur and leading good governance campaigner Mo Ibrahim. “Celtel. … had a zero-tolerance policy. They managed to go into 15 African countries without ever paying a single bribe or facilitation fee. The various national third parties, if they wanted to work with Celtel, just had to comply with that zero-tolerance policy. Even beyond that, Celtel would walk away from a country, no matter how lucrative it was, if it felt the risks were too high and that was under the leadership of Mo Ibrahim.”

Generally, however, third parties can’t be forced to adhere to those anti-corruption standards, particularly when there are other less scrupulous companies that are willing to do business, she adds.

1232 – What are the hallmarks of an effective compliance programme? IBA’s Moyer responds: “One distinction that is drawn sometimes on compliance programmes is the difference between a values-based programme and a rules-based programme. The implication is if it is simply a set of rules, it probably has less moral force, less effectiveness.”

The “tone from the top”, in other words leadership, something that has been raised again and again at this four-day conference, is also crucial.

1223 – OECD’s Boucher is asked to what extent ethics comes into this discussion.

“I think there is a moral imperative but it has to go along with the pragmatic ones,” he says.

For businesses there is a risk of being caught in a vicious cycle. If a company wins a contract because of corruption, there’s a risk it will lose the next one, also because of corruption and the possibility a rival will pay more in kickbacks, he says. Then what happens if your company ends up receiving substandard goods because someone in your firm has been bribed to buy faulty material?  

“If you’re engendering a bribery environment, you should be prepared to suffer as well,” Boucher says.

1220 – “Often when the word ‘Africa’ is mentioned there is this … misperception that Africa is grossly corrupt. This is inaccurate because firstly Africa is not one country. It’s a continent of 53 countries so you can’t make that generalisation. Secondly, in my experience African countries when it comes to corruption are actually babes in the wood compared to a number of other countries,” says lawyer Mary Boakye, who has spent a decade advising companies interested in investing in Africa. (She is now a consultant for SNR Denton, an international law firm).

1205 – It’s often said that bribery is just a part of the cost of doing business. But is that true? Homer Moyer, chair of the International Bar Association (IBA) Anti-Corruption Group, takes the floor to outline from a business point of view why many corporations are actually saying no to bribery.

Some companies view bribery as a cost they don’t want to incur. “As one client said, ‘we’re really too cheap to pay bribes,’” he says. Some companies believe they can compete effectively purely on the quality of their goods and services, and insist on doing that. “Some are offended by requests for bribes and simply refuse to participate or may see that as a troubling sign of a market that may be unpredictable with higher business risks,” he says, adding: “A few appreciate the theme that’s been stressed here which is (that) bribery, including small bribery, can facilitate much more heinous international crimes ranging from human trafficking to drug trafficking.”

It perhaps goes without saying that effective enforcement of anti-corruption laws is often persuasive in getting companies to toe the line. In the mid-1990s defence company Lockheed Martin was fined some $25 million after U.S. federal regulators accused it of paying an Egyptian official to convince Egypt to buy Lockheed aircraft.

“That was a wake call in corporate America. You could see compliance patterns begin to change in the wake of that enforcement action,” Moyer says, adding that corporate compliance had gone through a “mini revolution”.

Now companies are more likely to be concerned about the cost of independent internal investigations into wrongdoing that can run into millions of dollars as well as costly fines for breaking the law, he adds.

“When the U.S. law was first passed (in 1977) the common reaction was, ‘Everybody’s paying bribes, why am I being disadvantaged by complying?’. When we reach the point where the perception is that most corporations are complying, we will have reached a tipping, because non-compliance will be the exception, not the rule,” Moyer concludes. 

1155 – “Corrupt cases are hard work. These are not easy cases and I think sometimes the fact is under-appreciated,” says Mark Mendelsohn, who used to be the deputy chief in the U.S. Department of Justice’s fraud office. “These cases take a long time. Corruption lurks in shadows, behind closed doors and across borders and it exploits weaknesses in our global financial system.”

The United States could prosecute 100 cases a year under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), yet that represents just a fraction of all cases, Mendelsohn says.

He cites the UK Bribery Act as an example of how civil society and the media can be successful in driving change, while stressing the importance of bringing on board the private sector in the fight against corruption.

1145 – Malaysia will fail in its aim to move from being a middle-income economy to a high-income economy by 2020 unless it deals with corruption, says Idris Jala, a former Shell and Malaysian Airlines boss, who joined the government a year ago to focus on governance issues.

Not only has Malaysia approved a whistleblowers’ protection act, but the southeast Asian country has also set up a portal to name and shame officials convicted of corruption. A total of 222 people have been convicted of corruption this year and their names and photos are on the website, Jala says, adding that since 2006, more than 2,890 people have been arrested for corruption.

As part of its transparency drive, the government has also published the results of its official tenders online, he says.

1140 - Richard Boucher, deputy secretary general at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), welcomes a move by the G20 to endorse a graft-busting action plan that includes commitments to protect whistleblowers and make life tougher for corrupt officials. “We’re glad to see the G20 so strongly in favour of passing foreign bribery laws but also a broader anti-corruption initiative,” he tells the audience. 

1130 - The session entitled “Strengthening global action for an accountable corporate world” starts.

1000 - See our video interview with Global Witness founder and director Patrick Alley who talks about the economic costs of corruption in forestry here.

FRIDAY 12

1330 – Session on climate governance ends

1240 – Under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), companies are allowed to avoid cutting their own emissions into the atmosphere if they offset them by paying for cheaper reductions in developing countries. “Carbon offsets … are essentially an invitation to widespread fraud and corruption and should be eliminated,” Daphne Wysham of the U.S.-based Institute for Policy Studies tells the discussion.

She cited a U.S. Government Accountability Office report that said it was virtually impossible to verify whether carbon offsets represent real emissions reductions.

“Once you open the door to carbon offsets, you open the door to carbon derivatives and we’ve seen with the current economic crisis just how complex carbon derivatives are, how they can create all sorts of economic chaos,” she says. “Very few anti-corruption agencies whether it’s Interpol or Europol actually understand how to monitor these transactions … yet trillions of dollars in these less transparent, under-regulated derivatives of carbon offsets are potentially about to unfold.”

1230 – In the last 50 years, many reforms to improve forestry have failed deliver, according to the founder and director of Global Witness, Patrick Alley. “Deforestation still carries on at an alarming rate … It’s one of the most corrupt industries on the planet. This issue is core in tackling climate change and personally I do not believe that we can tackle the corruption in the existing system.”

He raises concerns related to the U.N. REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) programme in which rich countries would pay poor ones to slow climate change by protecting and planting forests.

“My concern is about how vested interests are coopting the process. For example, the logging industry is still striving to expand operations but they are also looking to get subsidised by climate funds through REDD to do it – very perverse. They’ve managed to do this before and they manage to do it again because they do it under the banner of development,” Alley says.

1220 – Manish Bapna, managing director of the World Resource Institute takes the floor with a stark warning: the world needs to think about a scenario in which the planet warms by 3 or 4 degrees Celsius because fossil fuel emissions responsible for the bulk of global warming are not just increasing but accelerating, he says.

Under the non-binding Copenhagen Accord agreed last year, rich nations plan to give $30 billion in climate aid from 2010-12, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020, largely channelled through a "Copenhagen Green Climate Fund". The sheer size of the funds - $100 billion is comparable to total overseas development assistance (ODA) today - raises questions about how the money will be spent and if it will be spent well, Bapna says, noting the battle for control of the money between rich and poor nations.

Rich countries argue that fiduciary controls in poorer countries are inadequate which has led to “a real fragmentation in adaptation funding, a real proliferation in adaptation funds”. "This, coupled with the need to disperse this adaptation money quickly, to actually spend the money quickly, is creating an environment that can be quite rife with corruption,” he says.

Where will adaptation money be spent? Well, it’s likely to go to sectors such as water, infrastructure, disaster relief – sectors with a particularly high degree of corruption, Bapna says.

Vested interests are likely to come up with big construction projects - yet that’s often precisely the opposite of what’s needed, he says, citing the example of Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam where until recently the authorities planned to build concrete sea walls around the city to offset rising water levels “with all the attendant corruption risks that such a massive civil works project would entail”. However, an independent study showed that planting mangroves would not only be more effective but cheaper and more sustainable, Bapna says.

1210 – There’s a persistent risk that climate change finance will exacerbate inequality rather than confront it and that it will be allocated in a manner consistent with corruption and cronyism rather than justice and need, Maladives Ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva and World Trade Organisation (WTO) Iruthisam Adam tells the audience. “At present there is almost zero trust between states on the issue of climate change. Developing states do not believe the global north is genuine in their commitment to finance adaptation (ways of adapting to climate change) or mitigation policies.”

She points out that developing countries need to find ways to hold richer countries to their pledges as well as governance structures to hold industrialised nations accountable for their emission reduction commitments.

Yet richer countries want assurances that their money will be used for its intended purpose, she adds. “Without adequate governance structures, money will not flow to where it is needed,” she concludes.  

1200 – The session titled “Climate governance: ensuring a collective commitment" begins

1100 – Check out our interview with Peter Eigen, chairman of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

1000 - TrustLaw spoke to Ingrid Srinath, secretary-general of civil society group CIVICUS, on the pervasiveness of corruption and how it affects citizens and civil society groups. She expresses her concerns that governments are becoming more accepting of corruption and there has been a "systematic push back" against civil society, human rights and freedom.

 

THURSDAY NOV 11

1400 - That's it for today. Please tune in again tomorrow.

1330 - The United States and other countries are “absolutely” supporting their own national interests, says Lissakers, adding that there’s long been a double standard on that front. But the strongest argument that activists have used in getting support for a U.S. bill to oblige companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to disclose information about the money they are paying governments to access oil, gas and minerals was to define it as a way to protect U.S. energy security. “You have to address the self interest of politicians, of governments, of citizens.

Only by making the case that transparency is actually good for everybody, good for the bottom line of companies, good for the security of supply for countries that depend on mineral resources for imports, as well as for the citizens of producing countries can you make the sale,” she said. She added in her closing remarks that there’s a false belief that developing countries should not reopen contracts they’ve entered into, no matter how bad, because it makes them look like an investment partner. “We did a study of changes in tax laws on mineral industries and we found that in the last 10 years more than 30 countries, including the United States and the UK, changed their tax regimes for minerals. That is in effect a change in the contract terms. So if they can do it why shouldn’t Kenya or Zambia be able to renegotiate their contracts?”

1325 - HRW’s Ganesan responds to a question about what countries can do to retrieve money stolen by high ranking officials by urging governments that want to crack down on past corruption, to cooperate with and seek help from bodies such as the World Bank’s stolen assets recovery unit as well as countries in which that money has been placed.

1320 - Saying you should be good and expecting people to be good is missing the point, Ashok Khosla says. There needs to be strong enforcement of anti-corruption measures, strong penalties and of course, political will to for change in the first place. “I think that the future of getting the world to be straighter than it is lies in the hands of citizens and civil society. Ultimately that pressure is going to come from people drawing the line and saying enough is enough,” he says.

1315 - Lissakers notes that many Chinese, Indian and Korean companies are seeking that the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) exempt them from reporting payments for access to oil, gas and minerals to any government that objects to that disclosure. Without that exemption, they would be put at a competitive disadvantage, they argue.

“It’s very clear we need to have major emerging markets countries in the game. It’s in everybody’s interest,” Lissakers tells the audience. “Chinese companies are suffering as much from the corruption and the shakedowns in Africa as Western companies, European companies who’ve come to the conclusion that it’s bad for business to have rampant corruption and are moving towards a more transparent regime. I think the same experience is going to eventually drive companies from other countries but they need to be in the game otherwise we won’t succeed in setting far higher standards.

1305 - Human Rights Watch's Ganesan says governments which want to stamp out corruption should ensure there’s no safe haven for corrupt activities. The first step, he says, is for the G20 to agree on being more aggressive about stopping corrupt officials from being allowed to enter their countries to spend their ill-gotten gains on shopping sprees. Another step would be to disclose the ownership of shell companies to prevent corrupt transactions from taking place. Equatorial Guinea’s government officials and their families had become notorious for flying off to the United States and Europe to spend money, Ganesan said.

The west African country had not only faced a lot of criticism for these lavish trips but was suspended in April from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which sets standards for companies to publish what they pay for oil, gas and minerals and for governments to disclose what they receive. Equatorial Guinea suffered another setback to its image last month, Ganesan said, when U.N. culture and education body UNESCO suspended a prize for life sciences named after Equatorial Guinea’s leader -- because of the government’s poor human rights and corruption record.

Civil society groups had accused the United Nations of allowing Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to clean up his international reputation by funding the $3 million prize instead of using the cash to improve the living standards of his people. “It has just shown they (the government) cannot launder their image just by putting more money into awards,” Ganesan says.

1240 - A very large part of the corruption issue is being forgotten in the focus on minerals and energy, Ashok Khosla, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature says, pointing out that forests and wild life also constitute natural resources in many countries – and are just as vulnerable to corrupt practices

1230 - Human Rights Watch’s Arvind Ganesan who heads the business and human rights unit of the watchdog takes the floor. There’s been enormous progress in transparency over the past decade, he tells the audience, but not enough has done about accountability. Take for example, Angola. It does not belong to the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which sets standards for companies to publish what they pay for oil, gas and minerals and for governments to disclose what they receive. Yet the southern African country has to disclose and does disclose information about its oil revenues on its own ministry of finance website, Ganesan says.

Angola may earn points for transparency over oil revenues, it was in the top 10 countries that are perceived to be the most corrupt according to Transparency International. Ganesan said its ranking has been in that range for the past six or seven years, suggesting not enough was being done about accountability in the country.

The U.S. senate has carried out several reports on corrupt purchases by government officials and relatives in Equatorial Guinea, Ganesan said, adding that it had documented how government officials and their family members spent over $80 million on houses, cars and jets over a two year period. Contrast that with the country’s education budget for 2005 of $43 million. What can be done? Well, there’s two ways of making it more difficult for corrupt officials to spend their stolen money abroad, Ganesan says. One, let civil society file law suits that force governments to investigate assets believed to have been stolen.  Two, governments should deny visas to individuals suspected of major corruption back home.

1215 - “The principle of transparency and accountability is being accepted by governments and recognised by donor agencies and the international financial institutions as a critical developmental issue,” says Karin Lissakers, director general of U.S.-based Revenue Watch Institute. Take Africa which receives about $40 billion a year in foreign aid inflows but exports about $400 billion worth of minerals resources each year, yet the money earned does not always translate into increased development, Lissakers says. Transparency is critical in getting the resource management right – from contracts, concessions and licensing processes to revenue streams, budgets and spending the money, she argues.

One big advance for transparency, other than the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) (which sets standards for companies to publish what they pay for oil, gas and minerals and for governments to disclose what they receive) was the adoption of the so-called Dodd-Frank financial reform law in the United States, which includes a provision which would require all companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to disclose information about the money they are paying governments to access oil, gas and minerals. It covers 29 out of the 32 largest oil companies in the world, eight out of 10 of the largest mining firms as well as the majority of active state-owned companies.

But still these advances don’t go for enough, Lissakers said, citing the first Revenue Index published by RWI and Transparency International last month. The index assesses 41 resource-rich countries on their disclosure of information relating to things like revenue, contracts, environmental issues. It showed that two-thirds of the countries surveyed produced limited or no information to the public, Lissakers said.

1200 - A session titled "Fuelling transparency and accountability in the natural resources and energy markets" begins.

0940 – Corruption is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “squeaky clean” Canada, yet there reasons to be concerned about the level of official corruption that could assist human traffickers in Canada, American lawyer Nicole Barrett from the Center for Criminal Law and Reform says. There have been news reports of border guards in British Colombia who were found to have accepted bribes from drug traffickers, while officials in the Canadian embassy in Hong Kong pleaded guilty to immigration-related corruption involving Chinese Triad gang members, she noted.  

WEDNESDAY NOV 10

16:30 - That's it for today - please come back for more tomorrow.

1600 – One delegate to the International Anti-Corruption Council meeting raises the question about the effectiveness of asking so-called “compromised” states to come up with strategies to overcome corruption and corruption-fuelled issues. Is it possible to look beyond the state and look for strategies to enable citizens who are often held hostage by their weak, corrupt governments to some international system of justice, she asked the panel. The international community may not have much influence over countries’ institutions but they do have some access and element of control over corrupt officials’ assets which tend to be squirreled away in industrialised, Western countries.

1540 – ICG’s Evans says it’s critical to think more clearly in post-conflict situations or when negotiating peace treaties about some of the specific mechanisms that “may need to be shoved down the throats of warring parties” to minimise the opportunities for corruption for example an international, monitoring, financial oversight body. He compared Liberia which accepted such mechanisms as part of its peace process and Democratic Republic of Congo, which did not.

“Corruption governance is the critical issue in so many of those kinds of situations that you have to be a bit more tough-minded about it.”

1330 - The United States and other countries are “absolutely” supporting their own national interests, says Lissakers, adding that there’s long been a double standard on that front. But the strongest argument that activists have used in getting support for a U.S. bill to oblige companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to disclose information about the money they are paying governments to access oil, gas and minerals was to define it as a way to protect U.S. energy security. “You have to address the self interest of politicians, of governments, of citizens. Only by making the case that transparency is actually good for everybody, good for the bottom line of companies, good for the security of supply for countries that depend on mineral resources for imports, as well as for the citizens of producing countries can you make the sale,” she said. She added in her closing remarks that there’s a false belief that developing countries should not reopen contracts they’ve entered into, no matter how bad, because it makes them look like an investment partner. “We did a study of changes in tax laws on mineral industries and we found that in the last 10 years more than 30 countries, including the United States and the UK, changed their tax regimes for minerals. That is in effect a change in the contract terms. So if they can do it why shouldn’t Kenya or Zambia be able to renegotiate their contracts?”

1325 - HRW’s Ganesan responds to a question about what countries can do to retrieve money stolen by high ranking officials by urging governments that want to crack down on past corruption, to cooperate with and seek help from bodies such as the World Bank’s stolen assets recovery unit as well as countries in which that money has been placed.

ernational Crisis Group's Evans says it’s critical to think more clearly in post-conflict situations or when negotiating peace treaties about some of the specific mechanisms that “may need to be shoved down the throats of warring parties” to minimise the opportunities for corruption for example an international, monitoring, financial oversight body. He compared Liberia which accepted such mechanisms as part of its peace process and Democratic Republic of Congo, which did not. “Corruption governance is the critical issue in so many of those kinds of situations that you have to be a bit more tough-minded about it.”

1525 – We haven’t found all the remedies to corruption yet, we haven’t reached a point where we can say or can claim we’ve fully combated corruption, says Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who works on governance issues at the United Nations Development Programme

1510 – Fellow panellist, Bill Hughes, managing director of the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency says two scenarios give him great cause for concern. One scenario is law enforcement which has been infiltrated by organised crime and can’t be trusted; and the other is a situation in which there is no rule of law. “Organised crime has gone beyond the capability of law enforcement to deal with alone anywhere in the world. That’s quite a strong statement to make especially for an ex-cop. But what it means is we’ve all got to come together to deal with organised crime because it is exploiting the opportunities out there through corruption and through a lack of rule of law in many countries to create safe havens and to become very strong and alternative forms of government,” he said.

1445 – There are four distinct ways in which corruption has an impact on state security: it often helps fuel civil conflict, it hurts post-conflict rebuilding; it facilitates terrorism and contributes to nuclear proliferation, International Crisis Group’s director emeritus Gareth Evans said. “In states where the rule of law is weak and criminalisation flourishes, terrorists can accumulate weapons and funds and forge documents much more easily. They can take advantage of existing criminal organisations or create their own to traffic profitably in guns, drugs, humans, to acquire transport including across state borders materials they need for terrorist attacks. And they can simply bribe,” Evans said, speaking at a session on corruption, peace and security.

1115 - Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general said he wanted to draw attention to the impact of corruption on human rights. “Corruption fundamentally undermines the realisation of human rights and without human rights and the rule of law we can never end corruption,” he said.

He highlighted four main changes in society which is shaping corruption. Shetty said while there has been a massive increase in wealth in society and progress in terms of development, this "has come with a very big increase in inequality, a very big increase in environmental destruction and a very big increase in corporate irresponsibility," saying Western multinational corporations are primarily, but not solely, responsible for this. He added: "We’ve seen a very big reduction in wars and conflicts but at the same time, we’ve seen an increase in insecurity for ordinary people."

In addition, an explosion in media and information technology had not generated a corresponding increase in accountability or justice, Shetty said, and despite an increase in the number of electoral democracies there is a "shocking decrease in trust in our elected leaders and in institutions of governments.”

1030 - It's OK for politicians to be corrupt as long as they are capable of bringing economic prosperity. That's the view of many Thais, according to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who said such indifference must change. "Conventional  wisdom is that corruption undermines economic growth and exacerbates poverty. But in reality, rampant corruption can exist amidst high economic growth. Citizens must be cruelly aware that there is no such thing as good corruption. These misconceptions must be urgently addressed," he said.

Surely, one way would be for the government to ratify the UN anti-corruption convention to show its commitment to fighting corruption? Well, maybe not... Vejjajiva said countries must ultimately devise their own homegrown solutions that "best suit local environments and contexts". In the meantime, Thais were fortunate that they had "his Majesty, the King to guide us with valuable principles," the prime minister added. Thailand's aim is to become one of the first countries in the world to implement "a national collective strategy against corruption in public procurement", he said without revealing details of how or when.

1015 – Chairwoman of the Transparency International watchdog, Huguette Labelle, outlines the theme of the conference – restoring the trust lost due to corrupt practices eroding faith in institutions.

“As the global community moves forward to tackle great challenges such as climate change mitigation, poverty reduction, increasing the accountability of the global financial system and protecting human rights, we cannot afford more than ever the damaging effects of corruption,” Labelle tells delegates. She says the IACC meeting should be a way of building momentum for the ratification and implementation of the U.N. Convention Against Corruption.

Delegates might consider it ironic, then, that Thailand which has yet to ratify the 2005 convention is hosting the conference. The challenges of tackling endemic corruption was picked up by Reuters’ Asia political risk correspondent Andrew Marshall who argues that fighting graft in the region (and elsewhere) means fighting apathy.

1000 - Action must match rhetoric in the fight against “the scourge of corruption”, delegates to the world’s biggest anti-graft meeting are told. Barry O’Keefe, head of the International Anti-Corruption Council (IACC), also urges meeting which brings together law enforcement officers, business leaders, government officials, civil society and donors to come up with concrete steps to tackle the issue.

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