Italy’s official calls for personal and collective responses to fight corruption

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NEW YORK, JUNE 2 – “We must make a personal commitment not to remain complicit in a culture of corruption”. Addressing the Special Session on Corruption, organised by the General Assembly in New York from the 2nd to the 4th of June, the Italian Minister of Justice, Marta Cartabia, called for a collective effort by the international community to fight a threat which every day becomes “more complex and sophisticated”, and which is spreading into new territories, such as sports, emergencies and crises.

The two-days session was convened to galvanize political will to fight the scourge. “Corruption is a global threat to our societies and economies. It hinders sustainable economic growth and distorts market competition, undermining the rule of law and the trust between citizens and governments. It is also a serious obstacle to prosperity and security”, said Cartabia. She then quoted Judge Paolo Borsellino, who was killed by the Mafia in Palermo on July 19th, 1992: “A strong ally in the fight against corruption is ‘the beauty of the fresh scent of freedom'”.

Borsellino’s vision “lives on through the efforts we are putting into the building of public institutions which are firmly rooted in the culture of law, a culture that ought to be inseparable from the safeguarding of democracy and the protections of human rights”. It is precisely “this vision that has prompted the Italian Parliament to advance an innovative anti-mafia code, including measures through which assets confiscated to the mafia are re-used for social purposes”. The Minister said that this model has been incorporated in the Political Declaration adopted during the course of this Special Session.

The effects of corruption are “detrimental to all of society”, the President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir said on Wednesday during the first day of the special session: “We cannot pretend that there were no issues before the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Bozkir. “Transnational financial crime and corruption are unfortunately commonplace in our interconnected, interdependent world” and “remains one of the most critical challenges for States, institutions, and communities alike”.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption was adopted by the General Assembly on the 31st of October, 2003. In December of the same year it was opened for the first time to ratifications. It finally came into force at an international level on December 14th, 2005. As of today, 187 States have ratified the treaty. While this is an important achievement, there is still a long way to go. It is precisely with this in mind that the three day Assembly was convened: an opportunity to intensify interventions, discussions and awareness on the topic. (SB@OnuItalia)