Observing United Nations’ International Anti-Corruption Day
Friday, December 13th, 2013
On Monday, December 9th, the United Nations (UN) observed International Anti-Corruption Day aimed to raise awareness on public and private corruption and support UN’s Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). International Anti-Corruption Day is a time for reflection and refocusing on a country’s anti-corruption strategy. In Belize, the Belize Youth Social Auditing Network (BYSAN), in collaboration with the University of Belize (UB) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), hosted several events to promote anti-corruption and educate people on the effects of corruption. The event ties in with BYSAN’s goals that entail the promotion of accountability and transparency by identifying all corrupt practices within the country of Belize.
Leading up to International Anti-Corruption Day, members of BYSAN participated on several local talk shows discussing key issues that are currently affecting Belize. Members defined corruption and how it affects the future of Belize. Corruption, which is defined as a dishonest or fraudulent act by those in power does not necessarily adequate to only government officials. Corruption can also occur within private firms and even amongst neighbors. Corruption affects all levels of society, and all countries experience social, political and economic corruption. “Corruption has a chain of negative effects, aside from being a ‘Now’ benefit situation. The people involved in the corrupt practices obtain personal benefits from public resources, which in turn cause funding and resources to have to be redirected from possibly more important causes/organizations/institutions. It can lead to a cycle of underdevelopment, poverty, and general distrust and inequality. Corruption starts with two people, but ends with one,” stated Kenny Williams, member of BYSAN on Punta Gorda TV.
In order to support a positive and pro-active stance against corruption, UNCAC provided five different poster images to be used in all countries observing International Anti-Corruption Day. The posters point out the most prominent forms of corruption in society. According to UNCAC, corruption is most prominent in health, education, infrastructure, law and order, and the elections department. UNCAC is the first global legally binding international anti-corruption treaty; Belize is one of the few countries that has not signed the treaty.
To mark the occasion, BYSAN members from across the country also took to the streets distributing posters and talking to citizens about corruption and the part they play in demanding accountability and transparency in society.
In several instances, members noted that the youth react more ardently to the topic. Corruption is a barrier to achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and it takes the youth (considered the future of a country) to stand up and fight for a better society. Because the youth stand to be Belize’s future leaders, UNDP is hoping the change in attitude will prevent a corrupt future.
And while BYSAN marks the day hosting their own events, various organizations joined their strength calling on the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow to signed on to the UNCAC Anti-Corruption Treaty. Those organizations included the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The People’s United Party and the Vision Inspired by the People among other Belizean organizations. The various organizations, via press releases, are demanding PM Barrow to honor his word and embrace the mantra of anti-corruption on which his party, the United Democratic Party was elected on in the past two consecutive elections.
BYSAN will continue the UNCAC anti-corruption campaign throughout 2014. Citizens are encouraged to educate themselves on corruption, laws, policies and other government issues. Ignorance is not an excuse. To learn more on anti-corruption and UNCAC visit http://www.actagainstcorruption.org/actagainstcorruption/index.html or http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/.
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