Empowering Small Islands Developing States to fight corruption

Anti-corruption efforts and aid approaches need to be better targeted to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to achieve more effective and sustainable long-term change. This was a key message from the side event on “Sustainable anti-corruption reform in SIDS” on the opening day of the Third United Nations Conference on SIDS in Apia Samoa.

The corrosive effects of corruption on economic growth and human development are indisputable, with the impacts felt greater in developing countries where governance systems are weak and financial resources are limited.  For SIDS to reduce corruption, they require a tailored approach which reflects their unique development context.

The anti-corruption themed side-event at the Third UN Conference on SIDS was led by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and shared experiences from SIDS countries of Micronesia, Jamaica, and São Tomé and Príncipe, including key challenges and lessons of anti-corruption reform in their countries.

“SIDS face unique circumstances and anti-corruption efforts along with development assistance approaches need to better reflect country specific context if they are to be effective. Through the side event, we were able to showcase some of these challenges and launch a much needed dialogue among SIDS and development partners, on a more targeted approach to tackle corruption longer-term,” said Tony Prescott, the Anti-Corruption Specialist at UNDP Pacific Centre.

As a result, UNDP and UNODC will facilitate a dedicated event, to be held in 2015, to empower SIDS to establish a set of principles to guide sustainable anti-corruption reform for SIDS. It is expected that this event will focus on issues such as the affordability and sustainability of anti-corruption reform, the capacity constraints of SIDS in implementing anti-corruption approaches, the viability of specific anti-corruption tools and techniques, strengthening accountability and transparency, as well as better aligning aid approaches to fight corruption in SIDS.

The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the globally accepted framework agreed to by 171 States parties, including 30 of 39 SIDS. Ten Pacific Island countries have already signed up to UNCAC, with only four countries – Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu – yet to accede to the Convention. In the Pacific, UNDP and UNODC are implementing a joint four-year project to support 14 Pacific Island countries to: i) accede to UNCAC; ii) implement the Convention through strengthening anti-corruption policies, laws, measures and institutional frameworks; and iii) engage in the formal processes of the Convention, including the Convention’s implementation review mechanism.

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