International Anti-Corruption Day is observed on December 9 every year. It serves as a reminder for each of us to actively speak out and fight against corruption in our lives and the lives of others. The United Nations has declared this day to bring attention to the need to adopt an anti-corruption stance.
History of International Anti-Corruption Day
Corruption has existed from time immemorial. Some of the earliest records of anti-corruption texts can be found in the Code of Hammurabi of Babylonia, the Great Edict of Horemheb in Egypt, and Arthashastra in India. These texts spoke about bribery practices among officers of the state and law. The concept of public interest and welfare began to gain stronghold in Western society in the 19th century and more attention was paid to the rising corruption in professional services like the bureaucracy. Corruption was beginning to be understood not just as an unwanted practice but a practice that was levying a great cost in society.
Today, Transparency International is one of the most well-known organizational faces tackling corruption in countries all over the world. It was founded by Peter Eigen, a World Bank official who had witnessed the negative impact of corruption in East Africa and decided to start a non-profit to shed more light on the issue. The secretariat was set up in Berlin in 1993. It currently hosts the International Anti-Corruption Conference every two years to convene civil society, bureaucrats, nonprofits and political leaders around special, cross-cutting challenges posed by corruption. It held its first virtual conference in 2020, and it is available to watch online.
Transparency International also developed the Corruption Perception Index in 1995 to measure corruption across sectors and practices in various countries and rank them comparatively. The index now collects data from 180 countries. Other organizations like the World Bank also capture corruption data through their Worldwide Governance Indicators.
International Anti-Corruption Day timeline
The Babylonian legal text is one of the earliest, most well-preserved ethical codes governing legitimate state and judicial practices.
The Roman emperor passes a decree banning corruption.
Transparency International launches a comparative, global index ranking corruption across countries and regions.
The United Nations Convention is signed by 140 countries after the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal, making it a sanctionable offense.
International Anti-Corruption Day FAQs
Who started International Anti-Corruption Day?
When the U.N. Convention Against Corruption was adopted by the General Assembly in 2003, it decided to observe a special day against corruption.
What is the corruption score of the U.S.?
According to the 2020 Corruptions Perception Index released by Transparency International, the U.S. has an anti-corruption score of 67 out of 100.
What is the least corrupt country in the world?
According to the same index in 2020, Denmark and New Zealand have the least corruption with a score of 88 out of 100.
How To Observe International Anti-Corruption Day
Take a pledge against corruption
Whether you’re a consumer or public official or private service provider, we can all do our part to help tackle corruption by being outspoken about being subject to corrupt practices when we’re at the receiving end and being transparent and ethical in our own transactions.
Look up the Corruption Perceptions Index
Transparency International has organized, easy-to-read data on corruption levels around the world starting from 1995. Take a look at the countries that fare the best and worst and whether this has changed over time according to the political situation in the country. There are other indices like Worldwide Governance Indicators available with the World Bank too.
Learn about the U.N. campaign against corruption
The U.N. has launched a special campaign on corruption in the last two years with the theme ‘Recover with Integrity’. It especially highlights corruption in the healthcare system. You can learn more about it on their dedicated website.
5 Facts About Corruption
Many countries score poorly
More than two-thirds of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index have a score of less than 50 out of 100.
Conflict-affected countries score worse
Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia are the bottom-most countries in the Corruption Perception Index.
Canada scores highest in the region
The Americas has an average score of 43 with Canada scoring 77 in the Corruption Perception Index.
There is no international court
The idea of an International Anti-Corruption Court was circulated as a body under the International Criminal Court, or as an independent body, but this has not been implemented.
It has a global secretariat
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is the global secretariat for the U.N. Convention on Corruption.
Why International Anti-Corruption Day Is Important
It reminds us of corruption
Many of us have faced some form of corruption in our dealings with business or government, but we may have discounted the significance of it in order to “get things done”. This day reminds us that we don’t have to accept these practices and can speak out against them.
It is a call to action
The UN and other bodies have compiled resources that make us more aware of the extent of corruption around the world, and they tell us how to take steps to eliminate corruption.
It highlights the importance of ethics
While we have been taught ethical conduct from the time we are kids, we may have forgotten about them in the daily grind and hustle. This is the time to reopen and even relearn those lessons to guide our own conduct.
International Anti-Corruption Day dates