Speech at launching ceremony for government inspectorate project on anti-corruption

29 Oct 2009

Speaker: Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:       29 October 2009
Event:     Launching ceremony for government inspectorate project on anti-corruption 

Mr Tran Duc Luong, Deputy Inspector-General;
Mr Dirk Meganck, Director for Asia at the EuropeAid Office of the European Commission;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

We are all aware that an effective fight against corruption is essential to long-term economic and social development. We also know that corruption always hurts the poor the most. It is the poor who can least afford to pay bribes and the poor who suffer most when funds intended for development purposes are diverted. Corruption feeds inequality and injustice and it is essential that we do all we can to tackle it.

Since the beginning of the year, Viet Nam has come a long way in the fight against corruption. In particular, the Government has achieved two important milestones. The first of these milestones was the approval in May by the Prime Minister of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy towards 2020. An action plan for the strategy has now been developed and will come into effect within the next month. The second milestone was reached in June when the UN Convention against Corruption was ratified. This Convention, which came into force in December 2005, is the first global legally-binding instrument in the fight against corruption. The Convention makes clear recommendations on how countries can effectively combat corruption and by acceding to it, countries demonstrate a level of willingness to fight corruption.

Yet, in spite of these achievements we also know that corruption remains a critical challenge for Viet Nam. Just last week a government report to the National Assembly highlighted that since October 2008, 243 corruption cases have been brought to court. Since last October, assets lost because of corruption total over 700 billion dong (about 41.2 million USD). In other words, the average value of the 243 corruption cases reported amounts to an astonishing 170,000 USD per case.

Viet Nam also ranks low in Transparency International’s yearly Corruption Perceptions Index and the Worldwide Governance Indicators released by the World Bank.

The project that we are here to launch today – ‘strengthening the capacity of the Government Inspectorate and the Government of Viet Nam to monitor and report on corruption and anti-corruption efforts’ – will help to strengthen the Government’s monitoring and measuring capacity. The project is a partnership between UNDP, UNODC, the European Commission and the Government Inspectorate – and has been financed generously by the European Commission. Through it, we aim to improve the ability of the Government to prevent and combat corruption – in compliance with the UN Convention against Corruption.

In particular, the project seeks to strengthen three inter-linked areas. Firstly, it aims to strengthen national capacities to comply with the international norms and standards provided by the UN Convention. Secondly, it seeks to build up institutional capacities for monitoring and evaluating corruption and anti-corruption efforts. Finally, it aims to support partnership building and public involvement in the monitoring and evaluation process.

Let me elaborate a bit on how the project will support the Government to effectively implement the UN Convention against Corruption and why such measures are important.

One essential element of the UN Convention is the monitoring and analysis of corruption trends. Each year, global corruption indicators are published. While useful, such tools do not provide detailed information about the form and scope of corruption which people have to face on a daily basis. In order to effectively fight corruption we need to be able to accurately monitor the problem and detect changes. We also need to build a much more comprehensive picture of the cost of corruption. More rigorous data and evidence is needed and the project will seek to address this. As a first step, a benchmark reporting system will be developed which can help to identify current shortcomings in the fight against corruption.

As outlined in the UN Convention, it is also important to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector in the fight against corruption. Experience around the world has shown that corruption is most effectively tackled when it involves non-governmental actors, such as the media, social organizations and civil society.

In closing, let me stress that in order to combat corruption effectively other democratic governance issues also need to be addressed. Getting to grips with corruption means getting to grips with issues such as participation, transparency, accountability and rule of law. All these issues are key components of the UN Convention against Corruption and they are all important anti-corruption drivers. Only by working together and simultaneously addressing multiple democratic governance issues can we effectively boost anti-corruption efforts in Viet Nam.

With the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption expectations have been raised about Viet Nam’s anti-corruption strategies. We need to work together to live up to these high expectations.  

Thank you for your attention.