Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director 

The future of anti-corruption: innovating integrity through technology and partnerships  

  Dubai, 9 December 2021


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to join you for this special event on International Anti-Corruption Day.

Allow me to begin by offering my heartfelt congratulations to the United Arab Emirates on its 50th National Day.

Dubai is also hosting the world this year with the Expo. This is a fitting place and time for us to explore the future of anti-corruption, and the opportunities for innovating integrity.

Expo 2020 Dubai, like so many other aspects of our lives, was delayed by the pandemic. For far longer than any of us could have anticipated, COVID-19 has upended our societies and ways of life.

Now we are at a breakdown or breakthrough moment, as the UN Secretary-General has warned. Urgent action is needed if we are to get on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

If countries do not step up responses to corruption, in line with SDG 16, we risk further delaying our recovery from the crisis, and leaving people behind.

Corruption worsens inequalities, and harms the poor, women, youth, and the marginalized by increasing costs and barriers to services, and by depriving them of opportunity.

Corruption contributes to instability, and feeds frustrations that increase vulnerabilities to exploitation and radicalization to violent extremism. It enables other crimes and illicit flows, including migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

Corruption causes and fuels many of the world’s ills. By the same token, by tackling corruption we can meet the challenges of our moment and spark transformative change towards realizing the SDGs.

On Monday, countries will meet in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the ninth Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.

At the session, they will strengthen anti-corruption responses in areas ranging from prevention and asset recovery, to youth engagement and sports.

New technologies and expanded partnerships represent two of the most promising pathways for advancing global action against corruption, and our discussion today is an important opportunity to enrich the anti-corruption dialogue that we will take forward in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The theme for the 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day is “your right, your role” in saying no to corruption, highlighting the fact that we all have a part in this fight, and that we need to coordinate and cooperate better to prevent and combat corruption effectively.

Supreme Audit Institutions have a central role to play, and I thank UAE and Dr. Al Amimi for the focus of this event on SAIs.

As the public entities responsible for auditing government revenue and expenditure, SAIs help to ensure that public resources go where they are supposed to go.

In recent years, the international community has increasingly focused on the role and capacities of SAIs in strengthening reporting and enforcement to curb corruption.

The Political Declaration, adopted at the first-ever UN General Assembly special session against corruption held earlier this year in June, recognizes the importance of SAIs, and commits to preserving their independence.

At its eighth session in 2019, the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention against Corruption adopted the Abu Dhabi Declaration, to enhance collaboration between SAIs and anti-corruption bodies.

UNODC is proud to support this commitment with the Supreme Audit Institution of UAE.

I would like to thank SAI UAE for our strong cooperation. UNODC is proud to partner with the countries in the Gulf region, through our global programme and our Office in Abu Dhabi, including to draft and implement national anti-corruption strategies, and to conceptualize a new review mechanism for the Arab Anti-Corruption Convention.

In May 2021, I had the honour of signing a new three-year, 5.4 million dollar programme with Dr. Al Amimi to strengthen cooperation and assist SAIs in reinforcing their anti-corruption functions.

Our new Programme also draws upon UNODC’s MoU with INTOSAI.

Along with the Abu Dhabi Declaration, these building blocks provide a comprehensive and robust architecture to accelerate global anti-corruption action. This architecture will be further strengthened by a resolution to be negotiated in Sharm El-Sheikh next week.

In Sharm El-Sheikh, UNODC will also be presenting a draft of a new guide to enhance cooperation between SAIs and anti-corruption bodies.

The guide will be used to develop a series of global training courses, and one of the key chapters is on the use of information and communications technologies.

Artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies are helping to equip SAIs and anti-corruption authorities with the tools they need to fight corruption more effectively.

For example, Brazil introduced AI systems to support auditing processes in the public sector.

In Chile, the SAI is using big data to analyse declarations of assets and identify conflicts of interest.

In South Africa, the Auditor General’s office is employing forensic data analytics and running electronic scripts to find anomalies, with the aim of flagging procurement contracts for further investigation.

I would also like to highlight the work of Dr. Al Amimi and the UAE SAI, which has developed at least 50 automated audit procedures, and improved data quality, consistency and efficiency while analysing more than 10,000 potential cases.

UNODC remains committed to supporting Member States, especially developing countries, to make the most of digitization and advanced tech to increase transparency, manage corruption risks, monitor services, and connect with citizens, especially youth.

Youth engagement is essential to promoting a culture of integrity. One of the most effective means to reach young people is through sports.

Harnessing the power of sports requires us to safeguard sporting events and sports from crime and corruption, to promote fair play and a level playing field.

In this regard, allow me to warmly thank Norway and the Russian Federation for their support for our new Global Report on Corruption in Sport, which we are also launching here today.

It is estimated that up to 1.7 trillion dollars are wagered on illicit betting markets each year.

The Report offers a playbook for tackling crime and corruption in sports through existing legal frameworks, including the Convention against Corruption.

Developed in partnership with nearly 200 experts from across governments, sport organizations, the private sector and academia, the Report draws upon the experience and expertise UNODC has gained through our Global Programme on Safeguarding Sport from Corruption.

Since 2018, we have supported over 8,000 officials in more than 130 countries to take action against corruption in sports, and we are further advancing this work in partnership with sports organizations.

I had the opportunity last month to meet with IOC President Thomas Bach at the Olympic House in Lausanne to extend our cooperation agreement, which will also focus on preventing youth crime, violence and drug use.

Moreover, UNODC is working closely with FIFA in a number of areas under our MoU, including to prevent corruption and match manipulation, and to promote sports for youth development.

Sports contribute to job creation and growth. They encourage healthy lifestyles and resilience, enabling youth to make smart choices, and empowering young girls to develop self-confidence and reach for the stars.

The COVID crisis has limited the joys of major sporting events over these past two years, showing us how much sports matter to us and our societies.

Safeguarding sports from corruption represents a crucial element of an inclusive recovery, and I hope our new Report will serve to support investment in sports integrity, for peace and sustainable development.


Distinguished panellists,

Ladies and gentlemen,

My thanks once again to UAE for inviting me to join you today.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, let us all pledge to commit to our roles and responsibilities in safeguarding our world, our recovery and our future from corruption.

I look forward to seeing many of you next week in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Thank you.