Director General/Executive Director
ECOSOC Event: Accountability, Transparency and Sustainable Development: Turning Challenges into Opportunities
9 July 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My thanks to the President of ECOSOC for inviting me to co-host this high-level segment on accountability, transparency and sustainable development.
I would also like to express my thanks to the Deputy Secretary-General for being present and for his own thoughtful remarks on this vital issue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Corruption has a devastating impact on sustainable development throughout the world. As an extremely conservative figure, it is estimated that up to US$40 billion is stolen from developing countries every year.
This means that each developing country is losing an average of up to US$258 million per year or around US$700,000 every single day.
As a result, essential funds for education, health care and infrastructure are being leeched from societies, and stolen from people.
Indeed, the high cost of corruption is paid by the ordinary citizens who cannot obtain basic services due to the misappropriation of funds.
Corruption breeds more corruption and facilitates other crimes, impedes economic and social development, and has a negative impact on democracy and governance.
The UN Office of Drugs and Crime has a pivotal role as the guardian of the UN Convention against Corruption, the only global instrument to address the blight of corruption.
There are currently 160 States parties to UNCAC and there is great potential for universality of the Convention in the not too distant future.
Calls encouraging countries to ratify and to accede to the Convention have been made in all major fora, including the General Assembly, the G8 and the G20.
But, ratification is only the first step. The full implementation of UNCAC is crucial for success against corruption at the grass roots level.
Our approach is threefold: encourage States to ratify, ensure proper implementation of the Convention and deliver technical assistance.
Towards these goals, UNCAC has gone further than any other conventions by creating a review mechanism for its own implementation.
157 Member States are currently involved in the Review Mechanism either as countries under review or as reviewing countries.
The peer review is a global and inclusive process without marginalization or rankings, and it shows signs of real success.
At the recent third meeting of the Implementation Review Group, the reviewing States were selected for 37 States whose review is just about to begin.
However, full implementation of the Convention presents significant challenges for the international community, as well as individual States parties.
Many developing countries need technical assistance to ensure full and effective implementation of the Convention, and UNODC is providing such assistance.
Yet Governments cannot win the fight against corruption alone. Preventing and combating corruption is the shared responsibility of every sector of society.
For this reason, UNODC is developing a number of initiatives that engage with stakeholders.
UNODC has a leading role in the Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative, a collaborative project which aims to produce a comprehensive anti-corruption curriculum for universities and other educational institutions.
We work closely with the private sector in accordance with the 10th Principle of the UN Global Compact which states that "Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery."
UNODC is working with the private sector to adopt anti-corruption policies aligned to the Convention and which strengthen transparency and accountability.
Working with our key partners, UNODC is developing a practical handbook for businesses to bring together guidelines and related material on private sector anti-corruption compliance.
Business can help developing countries and emerging markets establish the integrity infrastructure to exploit resources in a sustainable manner, promote employment and attract investments.
Our engagement with the private sector is being extended. UNODC has recently launched a new strategic partnership, called the "Integrity IPO".
We hope that this initiative will help to respond in a more meaningful way to the need for technical assistance that developing countries identify through the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism.
I started my remarks by outlining an estimate for the amount lost to developing countries due to corruption.
Of that US$40 billion, only around US$5 billion has been recovered over the last 15 to 17 years.
If we are to drive corruption out of its strongholds, if we are to benefit citizens in those countries, we must focus on prevention and asset recovery.
No society can afford to haemorrhage money, especially in these financially uncertain times, but it can be a matter of life or death for countries with fragile economies and where the rule of law is weak.
Together, UNODC and the World Bank manage the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, which works to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and assists in the return of badly needed funds.
The StAR initiative is bringing together Governments, regulatory authorities, donor agencies, financial institutions, and civil society organizations to assist.
UNODC's Global Programme against Money Laundering is working with regional asset recovery networks.
We also have mentors in the field offering technical assistance and expertise on a variety of thematic issues that support our anti-corruption work.
I call on all Governments to do everything in their power to assist with these initiatives as well as UNODC's many other initiatives aimed at ensuring the full implementation of UNCAC.
Working together we must help developing countries defeat corruption, and in doing so, assist with the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.