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Publication: Asset declarations for public officials: a tool to prevent corruption (UNPAN, 6 April 2011)

A great number of countries around the world have introduced systems of asset declaration for public officials in order to prevent or combat corruption. Many believe that asset declarations can be a powerful tool in this regard; however, the impact of such systems on actual levels of corruption is not well known. This study aims to help furnish a clearer picture by providing an analysis of existing practice in the area of asset declarations of public officials, in particular in former socialist countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and in some OECD member states in Western Europe and North America.

The study begins with policy recommendations for national governments and international organisations engaged in the development, reform and assessment of such systems on a country level. The analysis that follows and case studies that conclude the report provide the basis for those recommendations. Key elements of the systems are reviewed, as are the historical background and objectives that led governments to establish them. The analysis further examines the legal framework of the systems as well as the institutional arrangements for their management. It reviews the categories of public officials and related individuals who are required to submit declarations, as well as the particular information required. Attention is paid to procedures for processing and verifying declared information, and sanctions for violations. Various approaches to public disclosure of the information contained in declarations are also reviewed. Issues of cost-effectiveness and overall usefulness are covered as well. Four case studies are presented – from Lithuania, Romania, Spain and Ukraine – as well as many additional country examples and references.