Tackling corruption in Bhutan
Since its inception in 2005, the Bhutan Anti-Corruption Commission has become known as model in the region for putting in place effective checks and balances, public outreach and overall curbing corruption.
Established by the country’s monarch as part of the Kingdom’s democratisation process launched a decade ago, the Commission is mandated to investigate, prevent and educate about corruption. It receives complaints from members of the public in person, and through telephone, post, email or fax.
Over the past six years, the Commission has handled over 2,500 complaints from the public, completed approximately 80 investigations, obtained a conviction rate of 92 percent in the courts, and recovered $US 2.6 million, prompting the head of the Kingdom’s Audit Authority, Ugen Chewang, to note that, “The presence of the Anti-corruption Commission has been felt in the country.”
With financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Commission trained some of its staff, developed and put in place a national anti-corruption strategy, and reviewed its legislation in line with the UN Convention against Corruption – the first legally binding international instrument that promotes global cooperation on fighting corruption.
To prevent corruption within the public service, the Commission staff have developed and rolled out an online asset declaration system for all civil servants who must report their assets annually, and put in place rules clearly regulating the solicitation, acceptance and giving of gifts.
As a recognised regional and global model, the Commission is now strengthening South-South ties with other anti-corruption agencies in the region, and increasingly sharing its knowledge with other institutions and experts around the world.
Earlier this year, UNDP worked with the Commission to support an exchange of ideas and best practices with the commissions in the Maldives and Timor-Leste- two of the newest such institutions in Asia. A delegation from the Botswana Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime also visited the Commission to learn from its successes.
Around the world, UNDP is providing support to dozens of anti-corruption agencies and recently released a Practitioner’s Guide for Capacity Assessment of Anti-Corruption Agencies.