Global Anti-Corruption Heroes Celebrated at International ACE Awards

Eight winners are recognised at the 3rd annual International Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards at the Putrajaya International Convention Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The award has been established to shine a light on the fight against corruption across the world.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 7th December 2018: Today in Malaysia, organizations, individuals and entities from Asia, North America, Africa, Oceania and Europe were recognised at the Third annual Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award 2018. Held to coincide with International Anti-Corruption Day on the 9th December, the winners were presented their award by His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar and Their Excellencies Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, Prime Minster of Malaysia along with the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Mr. Yury Fedotov, and the Attorney General of the State of Qatar Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al-Marri.

The annual award ceremony took place this year at the Putrajaya International Convention Center in Malaysia, and acknowledged the outstanding contributions towards the prevention of and the fight against corruption that are being made around the world. The winners from Liberia, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, USA and Mexico were presented their Award in support of The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its anti-corruption mandates, specifically, the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

Before the ceremony, a 12m high statue of an open hand, the symbol of the ACE Award and a representation of the transparency and openness required of governments around the world, was unveiled in Dataran Putra, opposite the Prime Minister’s office. The unveiling was attended by HH The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, and Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad, as well as Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Dr Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri, Attorney General of the State of Qatar. After a long and thorough selection process, the High-Level Committee of the ACE Award, with recommendations from the Assessment and Advisory Board, chose eight recipients across four categories: Anti-Corruption Lifetime or Outstanding Achievement, Anti-Corruption Innovation, Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity and Engagement, and the Anti-Corruption Academic Research And Education.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, in his speech during the award ceremony stated, “It is about time for Malaysia to join the list of developed and capable countries. Let the world know that we are a strong nation that respects democracy and the rule of law.” He continued, saying, “this event, organized in Malaysia, is an important recognition by the international community of our efforts in combating corruption.”

HE Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri, UNODC Regional Special Advocate for the Prevention of Corruption and Attorney General of Qatar, stated during the ceremony that “The war on corruption can be won only when those fighting believe that it can be won. The corrupt cannot fight corruption. The importance of [Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s] work in Malaysia can be observed in his long history of fighting against corruption, which has helped to bring this country to its present position and economic strength.”

In the Anti-Corruption Innovation category, PNG Phones Against Corruption (from the island state of Papua New Guinea) was recognised for its innovative mobile platform for reporting corruption. The text message service has resulted in over 6000 reports of corrupt activity. Since its launch on 15 August 2010, PNG Phones Against Corruption has been responsible for the opening of over 250 cases being investigated by the Papua New Guinea authorities, with five of those awaiting trial. The initiative is responsible for the arrest of two Papua New Guinea government bureaucrats for mismanagement of over $2m of official funds.
Sharing the Anti Corruption Innovation Award is Ghanaian Dr Roger Oppong Koranteng. Dr Koranteng is the Lead Trainer and Governance and Anti-Corruption Adviser for the Africa Commonwealth Secretariat, and has used his position to bring together the heads of African Anti-Corruption offices to peer-review anti-corruption initiatives, set performance benchmarks and exchange best practices. A bilateral information-sharing agreement between Ghana and Nigeria is a direct result of the work spearheaded by Dr Koranteng. He has responsibility for governance, anti-corruption, democratic and oversight institutions in all the 52 commonwealth countries.

This year there are two shared winners in the Anti-Corruption Academic Research And Education category, the first of whom is Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey from the republic of Liberia. In the fight against corruption, it is vital to begin educating the next generation of citizens as early as possible. This was the aim of Dr Pailey, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford, when she wrote her children’s books Gbagba and Jaadeh. The books introduce children to the effects of corruption on everyday life, and have been made into short films, and even songs. Dr Pailey has spoken at a number of prestigious events on the subject of corruption, including a 2016 TED talk on Corruption in Africa, as well as at a number of conferences and seminars across the world.

The second awardee in this category is Professor Jason Sharman, holder of the Sir Patrick Sheehy professorship in International Relations at the University of Cambridge. Before joining the University of Cambridge, Professor Sharman received his Undergraduate degree from the University of Western Australia, followed by a PhD from the University of Illinois, and has worked at the University of Brisbane and Griffith University in Australia. His work includes investigations into the corrupt practices used by despots to hide illicit funds, alongside in-depth studies on money laundering and asset recovery. His publications have been reviewed by the Economist, the Financial Times and the Australian Institute of International Affairs, among others.

The first awardee for the Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity And Engagement category, Fernanda Angelica Flores Aguirre, is a Mexican community activist who epitomises battling corruption from its inception; her first introduction to community action was at home, when she participated in the Lions Club of Mexicali at the age of six in the program that her grandfather and her parents headed, called “Receive the Gift of Sight.” Through this, they provided eye examinations, lenses and even sight operations to people of limited resources throughout Mexico.

From these beginnings, Ms Aguirre has expanded her community outreach, working in fields as varied as voter registration and motivation, gender equality in politics, and youth programmes designed to give voice to the younger generation. She is currently finishing an MBA in order to further improve the effectiveness of her anti-corruption programmes.

The second award in the category of Anti-Corruption Youth Creativity and Education is the organisation Accountability Lab, an organisation based in Washington DC with the aim to promote fairness and accountability in as many countries as it can reach. They run an ‘Accountability Incubator’, a flagship program for young civil society leaders that invites them to build sustainable, effective tools for accountability, participation and social impact in their societies, as well as Integrity Idol, a global campaign run by citizens in search of honest government officials, as well as the Integrity Fellowship, a month-long fellowship where the fellows are given opportunities to work with and learn from exemplary civil and public servants.

The final award was conferred upon two winners in the category of Anti-Corruption Lifetime Achievement. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is a Nigerian Civil Servant who argues for actions instead of words as the only way to end corruption. His actions focus on his home country of Nigeria, and the corruption that has robbed the state of huge sums of money while stagnating development. He cites improving the foundations of leadership, institutions and individuals as the key requirements for anti-corruption success in any nation, saying “If things are not done in the right way, cutting corners will always continue.” His fearless work has resulted in the prosecution of a number of prominent politicians.

The second winner of this prestigious category is Mr. Leonard Frank McCarthy. There are perhaps only a handful of people who can be credited with shaping the global economy, and Mr. Leonard Frank McCarthy is one of them. As Vice-president of the World Bank, he has spearheaded initiatives designed to increase the organization’s ability to address fraud and corruption. Under his leadership, integrity due-diligence has become a standard of World Bank investigations, and under his guidance the World Bank Preventative Services Unit was created, to ensure that potential corruption could be stopped before it had even begun.

“The fight against corruption is not something that can be accomplished in just one day,” commented Eduardo Vetere, Vice President of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, during the press conference after the award. He continued; “It is a slow, day by day process in which not only government officials but the entire public have to cooperate and collaborate.”

Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohammed, Director of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti- Corruption (GIACC) spoke about the progress made by Malaysia under the present government in tackling corruption. “The government of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken great steps towards improving elements such as accountability, efficiency and transparency, instilling a comprehensive approach to fighting corruption within Malaysia.

To celebrate the Award and International Anti-Corruption Day, a twelve-meter sculpture by Ahmed Al Bahrani, a contemporary Iraqi artist and sculptor, was unveiled outside the Prime Ministers office in Datarang Putra. The sculpture serves as a bold visual statement against the battle against corruption.

Delivering the same strong message as the previous two awards in Vienna and Geneva, the steel composition of a raised hand signifies the international communities’ efforts to combat corruption and the unwavering strength and resolve of those presently engaged in this fight. The interlinked lines represent a globalised world, united in the fight against corruption, while the see-through construction symbolizes the importance of transparency. The small triangles that intertwine throughout the statue represent each of the countries around the world and how by coming together, positive changes can be made.

HE Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri, UNODC Regional Special Advocate for the Prevention of Corruption, announced the establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani the Emir of the State of Qatar, at the 8th Annual Conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) in November 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Awards are open to submissions from around the world, submitted by third party entities to nominate any organisations, groups and persons of any nationality who demonstrated significant commitment and contributions toward the prevention and control of corruption. The evaluation process was initiated by a call for nominations, which were then submitted through an on-line nomination process.

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