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Chairperson's speech for the Ministerial Conference of the Arab Anti-Corruption & Integrity Network

6th Ministerial Conference of the Arab Anti-Corruption & Integrity Network
25-27 March 2018, Baghdad, Iraq

"Korea's anti-corruption reforms and achievements"

Ms. Un Jong Pak
Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission
Republic of Korea

Pak Un Jong
Pak Un Jong

Let me first thank the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network and UNDP for inviting me to this Ministerial Conference held in Baghdad. It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce Korea's anti-corruption measures and the progress we have made in fighting against corruption.

Corruption in the public sector not only undermines public trust in the government and distorts distribution of resources, but also hinders economic growth and ultimately threatens the existence of the nation. No matter how robust the government policy is, the public will not trust the policy of a corruption-ridden government. In that case, government policy will not be as effective as expected because it will face strong opposition from the public in the implementation process.

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, or ACRC, as Korea's national anti-corruption body, has made a lot of efforts to build a systematic national anti-corruption system. It implements preventive anti-corruption measures, including developing and coordinating national anti-corruption policies, improving legal and institutional frameworks, measuring corruption, providing anti-corruption training for public officials, and monitoring the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials. Also, it carries out reactive measures such as receiving and handling corruption reports and protecting and rewarding whistleblowers.

Major anti-corruption measures of the Korean government

Integrity Assessment

First, through the Integrity Assessment, the ACRC assesses the integrity levels of each public organization every year, and announces the assessment results to the public. Introduced in 2002, the Integrity Assessment measures corruption in the delivery of public services such as licensing, permit, procurement, and contract. The assessment results are used to identify and improve corruption-prone work areas in the public sector.

The Integrity Assessment won the 2012 United Nations Public Service Awards in the category of preventing and combating corruption in the public service, and has been introduced to Indonesia, Mongolia and Thailand.

Anti-Corruption Initiative Assessment

Next, using the Anti-Corruption Initiative Assessment, or AIA, the Korean government has evaluated the relevance and effectiveness of anti-corruption measures of each public organization every year since 2002. The AIA is aimed to facilitate voluntary anti-corruption efforts of individual public organizations, and to share and spread anti-corruption best practices across the public sector.

Since the ACRC and UNDP signed an MoU in December 2015, we have witnessed the success of the pilot project to share Korea's AIA with Vietnam.

Corruption Risk Assessment

The Korean government has also conducted the Corruption Risk Assessment since 2006. It is designed to prevent the occurrences of corruption by identifying and removing corruption risks in laws and regulations in advance.

Every public agency must request the Corruption Risk Assessment from the ACRC whenever they intend to enact or revise laws and regulations. Based on specific criteria, the ACRC ensures that obligations are realistic, discretionary regulations are clear and concrete, and administrative procedures are transparent and predictable.

Code of Conduct for Public Officials

In Korea, the Code of Conduct for Public Officials was enacted in 2003 as a Presidential Decree. Based on this code of conduct, more than 1,300 public organizations are implementing their own codes of conduct, tailored to each organization's characteristics and functions.

The ACRC reviews the codes of conduct of public organizations, and monitors their implementation. In case of violation, the ACRC requests the organizations concerned to take countermeasures such as punishment against the violators.

Protecting and rewarding whistleblowers

Since corrupt activities are secretive in nature, detecting such activities can be extremely hard without disclosure by whistleblowers. Under the anti-corruption Act, the Korean government has taken a range of protective measures for those who report corruption such as guarantee of confidentiality, physical protection, prohibition of disadvantageous measures, and financial rewards.

In addition, the Korean government implemented the Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers in 2011 to protect the people who report public interest violations related to public health, safety, the environment, fair competition and consumer interests.

Anti-corruption training for public officials

The ACRC is also providing anti-corruption training to public officials at the Anti-Corruption Training Institute and through its online courses to strengthen their anti-corruption capacities and to spread a culture of integrity in the public sector.

According to the anti-corruption law, it has become mandatory for all public institutions to conduct anti-corruption training for their employees.

The latest anti-corruption reforms in Korea

Thanks to such multi-dimensional anti-corruption efforts, we believe that Korea's corruption problems have been reduced to some extent. According to Transparency International's 2017 Global Corruption Barometer, only 3% of Korean respondents said they gave bribes to public officials. Considering that nearly a quarter of the people surveyed in 119 countries said that they paid a bribe, this indicates that corruption problems in Korea are indeed being resolved.

That being said, Korean people still require a higher level of accountability and integrity in the public sector. In order to meet their expectations, the Korean government is making stronger efforts to promote integrity in the public sector and restore public trust.

As part of such efforts, the government implemented the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act in September 2016. Under the new anti-corruption law, anyone who improperly solicits public officials will be punished even though they did not commit bribery.

Public officials who accept money, gifts or hospitality are also subject to criminal punishment regardless of whether such benefits are given in connection with their official duties or in exchange for any favors. Companies will also face sanctions if their employees improperly solicit government officials or offer bribes.

Only one and a half years have passed since the implementation of this law. However, its positive impact is already tangible in the entire Korean society. According to recent surveys, 81% of public officials said that solicitations through personal connections have decreased, and 84% of business people said the law has brought positive change to overall society.

Most of all, the new law has significantly contributed to raising awareness that improper solicitation and hospitality cannot be tolerated any more. The new anti-bribery law has also been recognized by the international community as an important milestone in Korea's anti-corruption reforms.

Direction of the new government's anti-corruption policy

Korea's new government was inaugurated in May 2017, driven by the people's aspiration for a transparent nation in the aftermath of a grand corruption scandal and the impeachment of the former President.

President Moon Jae-in put "eradication of malpractices" and "anti-corruption reform" at the top of the government's policy goals, reaffirming his strong will to put an end to corruption. At the first Anti-Corruption Policy Council Meeting in September last year, President Moon said that eradicating corruption would be the starting point of all government policies going forward.

The ACRC, as the nation's anti-corruption policy control tower, will make more concerted efforts to prevent and eradicate corruption by engaging all sectors of society. On March 6, the ACRC launched the Public-Private Consultative Council for Transparent Society, through which business, civil society, media and academia will actively participate in the process of making and implementing anti-corruption policies. We are also working on a five-year national anti-corruption road map to be reported at the 2nd session of the Anti-Corruption Policy Council chaired by the President of Korea.

The ACRC will also continue to conduct various technical assistance activities to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and achievement of Goal 16 on anti-corruption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We will also make greater efforts to share Korea's experiences and lessons learned in the fight against corruption with the countries in Arab in close partnership with the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network and UNDP.

Thank you.







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