Written by Velina Lilyanova
The United Nations’ 2003 Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) starts by noting that corruption ‘undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish’. To a varying extent, all countries are susceptible to the phenomenon of corruption (EU Member States not excluded). Factors such as social and economic development, political background and culture, among others, define how deep rooted it is in a given state.
The Western Balkans (WB) is a region with a history of corrupt practices, one usually perceived as vulnerable to corruption. With the exception of Kosovo,* all countries from the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – are parties to UNCAC. Without exception, they are faced with widespread corruption – one of the key challenges as regards their aspirations for European integration. They have each made different progress towards EU membership, but share similar difficulties in the fight against corruption. Notwithstanding the assistance from the EU in the framework of the enlargement process, the results they have achieved so far have similarly been assessed as limited.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.