Corruption and Economic Crime 2021 Annual Report

There has been great progress since the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted in 2003. UNCAC has reached near universal adherence, with 189 parties committing to the Convention’s anti-corruption obligations. There is global recognition of the importance of good governance and accountability, not to mention the political commitment to work across borders to better track, investigate and prosecute cases of corruption.

2021 – The year of anti-corruption

This past year saw several important milestones, including the UN General Assembly’s first-ever special session (UNGASS) against corruption, the launch of a new global network to strengthen international cooperation against cross-border corruption (GlobE), and the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) to UNCAC, setting the course for global anti-corruption efforts in the years to come.

The corruption prevention measures set out in the UNGASS political declaration and the various CoSP resolutions, along with the UN common position prepared by the UN Global Taskforce on Corruption to coordinate anti-corruption support to Member States, will be critical to the building of public trust and the strengthening of public institutions as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Strengthening cooperation

Our team of anti-corruption experts, at headquarters and in the field, work in partnership with governments, anti-corruption practitioners, business, and civil society, including youth and academia, across the globe to facilitate collective and locally adapted solutions to corruption, making sure accountability, transparency and integrity become standard practice.

Supporting the effective implementation of UNCAC, we deliver technical assistance in corruption prevention, criminalization, law enforcement, international cooperation and the recovery and return of stolen assets. The regional platforms in Southeast Asia, East Africa, Southern Africa, South America, and the Western Balkans have created the mechanism to fast-track UNCAC implementation and strengthen collaborative efforts.

Despite the pandemic, we continued our programme delivery, moving activities online wherever possible, to better respond to the needs of States parties and Member States working to ensure a COVID-19 recovery with integrity.

We addressed a range of cross-cutting areas, such as ensuring transparency in public procurement and whistle-blower protection in the public health sector. We supported the mitigation of corruption risks within agencies mandated to protect ecosystems and prevent and counter crimes that affect the environment. We published a number of important and timely knowledge products, resources, and tools, including guidelines for building back from the pandemic as well as the first-ever Global Report on Corruption in Sport. We strengthened innovative anti-corruption initiatives with and for youth, academia, and the private sector as well as for judicial integrity and the recovery and return of stolen assets.

Momentum is strong, but there is still a long way to go

UNODC’s Corruption and Economic Crime Branch has developed a broad and diverse programme of anti-corruption work and has continued to be responsive in the face of an unprecedented year for the global community, focusing on critical substantive topics that address the needs of countries in every region of the world looking to counter corruption and emerge stronger and more resilient from the pandemic.

This annual report features UNODC’s work on corruption over the course of 2021. We aim to provide a solid overview of our efforts to tackle one of the most pressing, widespread, and damaging issues plaguing our society – one that impedes our progress on the 2030 Development Agenda and requires our immediate and collective action.

In cooperation with our partners across the globe, we will continue to build back with integrity and to come up with effective, innovative solutions to prevent and counter corruption in favour of a more open, transparent, inclusive, and just world.

Download the 2021 Annual Report