The 2011 World Humanist Congress notes that:
- Kofi Annan referred to corruption as an ‘insidious plague’, that ‘undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.’
- Corruption ranges from small bribes paid to local government officials to large-scale payments to national leaders for unreasonably profitable contracts.
- Corrupt governments tend to expend resources on unnecessary projects, and those which are capital intensive in order to maximise their bribe receipts. This creates distortions in development priorities, where spending is diverted from essential basic services such as education and health services to projects like buying military equipment, which generate larger bribes.
- Corruption is made more likely to flourish where there is secrecy and where there are weaker media organisations and civil society institutions able to hold the powerful to account.
In consequence of which:
- We call upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to set up a working group on Corruption and Human Rights as a first step towards measures aimed at the elimination of corruption world-wide.
- We urge all States to address corruption as a matter of urgency, to criminalize foreign and domestic bribery, including the use of their financial institutions for transactions related to corruption, and sign, ratify and enforce the United Nations Convention Against Corruption if they have not already done so.
- We urge all international organisations to address problems of corruption and to support the OECD Convention Against Bribery of Foreign Officials, and Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which includes efforts to tackle corruption in international aid delivery.
- We call upon all companies to act decently, with respect for national law and international treaties. All companies should implement a program for countering bribery based on Transparency International’s voluntary code for the private sector, The Business Principles for Countering Bribery. All board members have the responsibility to ensure that the company conforms with rules and regulations in this area.
- We call for the promotion of transparency in administration of funds, at all levels of society and in all societies (including so-called ‘tax havens’) and for the promotion of accountability and strengthening of civil society and its organs of accountability, such as the media.
- We call upon all Humanists, Humanist groups and other civil society organisations to address the problem of corruption whenever possible and support all efforts by governments to improve legislation on corruption and to investigate suspicions of corruption and financial crime.
We must stand together across cultures and national borders to implement a coherent and comprehensive strategy against corruption. The major responsibility rests with governments, the UN and other international bodies. The world’s wealthier states must not overlook the need for implementation of necessary control measures at home, including monitoring of the fortunes of government ministers.
Suggested academic reference
'Corruption', Humanists International, World Humanist Congress, 2011