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Nations Sign Declaration to Take Stand on Corruption

Anti-corruption experts convened in Thailand this week and made a number of recommendations to fight graft across the globe.

The 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok came to a close Saturday with a pledge by attending nations to accelerate efforts to fight corruption and fully honor existing anti-corruption agreements.

The council regretted that many nations had yet to ratify or implement the existing UN Convention Against Corruption. It came into effect in 2005 and mandated action on the prevention and criminalization of corruption, as well as international cooperation and asset recovery.

After four days of discussions on corruption in the private sector, security and peace, climate change policy and aid delivery, the council concluded that civil society's power to fight corruption was currently undervalued.

The presenter of the declaration, actress Emma Suwannarat, noted slow progress on the existing UN Convention Against Corruption.

"We noted that the United Nations Convention Against Corruption was groundbreaking as the first global instrument to address corrupt," Suwannarat said. "Regrettably, many countries are yet to ratify the convention, or are lagging behind in implementation."

The conference coincided with the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, where leaders pledged to fight corruption through their own Anti-Corruption Plan. It also ran parallel to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting, where leaders identified corruption as a threat to prosperity and development.

High on the conference's agenda was the issue of corruption and climate change policy, particularly in the UN-backed forest conservation scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD.

Estelle Pach, a REDD analyst with the UN Development Program in New York, warned of the potential for corruption in current REDD plans.

"The risks are there because forest governance is not perfect anywhere at all, and then because of the influx of money that is going to come from a REDD mechanism, there's potential for large scale or petty scale corruption," said Pach.

A number of representatives from developing nations, such as the Maldives, said their countries felt excluded from negotiations and had little trust in the sincerity of developed nations in their commitment to follow through with REDD promises.

Actress Emma Suwannarat, the presenter for the council said that there was room to build trust.

"We recommended that the trust deficit between developed and developing countries in international climate negotiations to be ameliorated by the development of new mechanisms and mutual accountability at the international level," added Suwannarat.

The council also made recommendations to foster greater transparency in the private sector and encourage stronger leadership and political will to prevent and suppress corruption in all its forms.