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Corruption as a 'white-collar crime': International legal instruments on public accountability of public officials

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Author(s): Dokmanović Mirjana

Journal: Temida
ISSN 1450-6637

Volume: 12;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: corruption | international covenants | public services | United Nations | Council of Europe

ABSTRACT
Corruption within public services has devastated negative impact on a state, a society, its economy and its citizens. It represents a major threat to the rule of law, democracy, enjoyment of human rights, fairness and social justice. It hinders economic development and endangeres sustainable development, empowerishes national economies, and facilitates the emergence of other threats, such as organized crime. Fighting corruption has become more urgent than ever. This paper deals with the public liability of domestic public officials, highlighting the substantive main international standards for fighting corruption in public services in the international legal instruments adopted by the United Nations and the Council of Europe, such as the United Nations Conventions against Corruption, and the two Convention of Council of Europe, on Civil Law and on Criminal Law. The paper argues that corruption can be prosecuted after the fact, but first and foremost it requires prevention. Preventive policies include the establishment of anti-corruption bodies and enhanced transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties. States must endeavour to ensure that their public services are subject to safeguards that promote efficiency, transparency and recruitment based on merit. Once recruited, public servants should be subject to codes of conduct, requirements for financial and other disclosures, and appropriate disciplinary measures. Transparency and accountability in matters of public finance must also be promoted, and specific requirements are established for the prevention of corruption in particularly critical areas of the public sector such as the judiciary and public procurement. Those who use public services must expect a high standard of conduct from their public servants. Preventing public corruption also requires an effort from all members of society at large.
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