As the world marked International Anti-Corruption Day, the Federal Government of Somalia announced today a series of steps to strengthen its commitment to combat corruption and reinforce transparency in order to build more accountable institutions.
At a United Nations-backed event in the capital, Mogadishu, to mark the Day, and attended by senior government officials and international development partners, as well as representatives of youth and women's groups, Somalia's Federal Minister of Justice and Judiciary Affairs, Hassan Hussein Haji, expressed his government's commitment to promoting accountability and tackling corruption frontally within its rank and file.
The minister signed a so-called Project Initiation Plan (PIP) between his ministry and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which aims at strengthening government institutions to fight corruption and promote accountability.
"We are on our way to establish an Anti-Corruption Commission; they need a secretariat, they need training, they need help in all aspects. So, I think this Project Initiation Plan will lead us to develop this institution that will make it easier for us to sign and ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption," Minister Hussein said.
He added that this project would particularly enhance accountability in some of the country's key institutions, such as the Auditor General's Office, among others, and that it would be followed by more at the end of the PIP.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations at the gathering today, the UN Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, commended the Federal Government for its efforts to improve transparency, accountability and fight against corruption in public offices.
The UN official also urged it to make progress with the UN Convention against Corruption, the world's only legally-binding universal anti-corruption instrument, and which has so far 186 signatory countries.
"We encourage all branches of Government and the Federal Member States to take measures to protect and expand the integrity and accountability of the management of public finances and resources, as well as to advance the legal and institutional frameworks against corruption, through robust enforcement and punitive measures," Mr. de Clercq said.
Following the signing ceremony, the UNDP Country Director for Somalia, George Conway, explained that the newly-signed PIP allows the Federal Government to tackle corruption in a comprehensive way.
"The PIP builds on significant engagement we have had with the Government at federal and state-level for many years, to address issues of good governance, accountability, transparency, support to public financial management and the broader application of the rule of law," Mr. Conway said after the signing ceremony.
The Project Initiation Plan will be implemented over a six-month period, after which UNDP will roll out a full multi-year programme to support the government of Somalia in its anti-corruption efforts.
Around the globe, 9 December is observed as International Anti-Corruption Day with the aim of raising awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.