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Friday, May 14, 2021

UN-affiliated anti-corruption agency to move to Qatar from China

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Attorney General Ali bin Fetais Al Marri
Attorney General Ali bin Fetais Al Marri

This post has been corrected to reflect that the IAACA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated with the UN, but is not a UN agency.

An international organization aimed at rooting out graft around the world is preparing to relocate its headquarters to Doha after Qatar’s attorney general was tapped to lead the organization last fall.

Ali bin Fetais al Marri was named acting president of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) at the UN agency’s NGO’s annual general meeting late last year in Russia. He’s expected to be appointed president this May, according to a summary report of the meeting.

QNA previously said this will also mean the agency’s headquarters would move to Qatar.

In practical terms, moving the organization’s headquarters means that its work and meetings will now be held in Qatar, the Gulf Times reported last year.

According to IAACA’s St. Petersburg declaration, Qatar’s al Marri plans to establish in his capacity as acting president a new international anti-graft prize named after Qatar’s Emir: the Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Award.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The organization’s main objective is to promote the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption. In practice, this means studying anti-corruption legislation and law enforcement efforts, hosting training seminars and facilitating networking among its members, according to the IAACA’s work plan.

The organization’s accomplishments since its founding in 2006 are not immediately clear, based on the documents published on its website.

But in terms of its direction, the St. Petersburg Declaration, released after its general meeting last fall, contained several recommendations that called for more education, information-sharing and “relevant reforms that promote professionalism and effectiveness of anti-corruption authorities.”

Anti-corruption track record

In an annual index released in January by Transparency International, Qatar is ranked 22nd out of 167 countries and holds the best score among Arab countries.

The index is based on a survey of several international organizations that asks for their perceptions on the amount of corruption in various countries.

The IAACA is currently headquartered in China, which is ranked in the middle of Transparency International’s rankings at position 83.

New public prosecution campaign
New public prosecution campaign

Last year, Qatar launched a new domestic initiative aimed at weeding out graft by asking residents to report financial corruption in government organizations, including bribes and embezzlement of public funds.

The country’s police force and judiciary have also shown a willingness to crack down on corruption, such as running a sting operation in 2014 that led to the arrest of two senior Qatar Foundation employees on charges of soliciting a bribe.

Both were sentenced to five years in jail and jointly ordered to pay a QR3 million fine last year.

Qatar National Convention Center
Qatar National Convention Center

Internationally, however, Qatar’s reputation continues to be dogged by allegations that the country bribed members of FIFA’s executive committee to secure votes in support of the Gulf country hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar has denied these charges.

Similar accusations have been made against other World Cup hosts, including allegations made by FIFA itself earlier this month surrounding votes for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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