Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Opening of the UN General Assembly Special Session Against Corruption 

  2 June 2021


Ladies and gentlemen,

Bold global action against corruption is needed more than ever, and I thank the President of the General Assembly for this important and timely session.

We at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime value the efforts of the Deputy Secretary-General, the President of the Economic and Social Council, and the President of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.

I also thank Serena Ibrahim, founder of Youth against Corruption in Lebanon. Ms. Ibrahim was selected by the President of the General Assembly to represent the Youth Forum organized by UNODC ahead of this session, and share the insights from more than 800 young people from around the world.

I am grateful for the firm commitment demonstrated by Member States at this first-ever General Assembly special session against corruption.

The COVID-19 crisis has derailed development progress, while corruption, bribery and illicit financial flows have stolen away resources when we can least afford it.

In every region of the world, corruption has compromised emergency responses, health care, education, environmental conservation, and job creation, leaving us less equipped to recover, and leaving ever more people behind.

Now, as our still-fragile societies take steps towards a more resilient future, we must reject cynical profiteering and exploitation of public trust.

We must rebuild with transparency, accountability and integrity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

We have the opportunity with this special session to strike a better path towards equality, inclusion and justice.

I commend the co-chairs, the Ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates and Peru, for leading the inclusive negotiations in Vienna that resulted in a determined consensus and a strong political Declaration that we are adopting today.

The comprehensive and forward-looking approach of the UNGASS Declaration acknowledges both the pervasive nature of corruption, and the need for greater political will and practical action to step up the fight against an enemy that shows little sign of retreating.

UNODC is your partner in making more meaningful progress to recover and return stolen assets; to harness innovation and new technologies for accountability; and to connect with allies in parliaments, the private sector, academia, media and civil society, and with youth, women, and all those who have a stake in a level playing field.

Through the UNODC Strategy and our Vision for Africa, we will work with you to strengthen international cooperation; tackle linkages with other forms of crime; and deny safe haven for the corrupt, uniting developed and developing countries through a true sense of shared responsibility.

I welcome the Declaration’s recognition of the UN Convention against Corruption as our universal instrument against this crime, and its emphasis on technical assistance, education, and the need for research and better measurement of corruption and its impact.

The Declaration sets out and reaffirms the commitments of Member States, and provides the means to achieve them.

A decisive new tool in our anti-corruption arsenal is the launch of the Globe Network. UNODC is proud to serve as Secretariat to the new network, which will link up anti-corruption law enforcement authorities to pursue more agile cross-border cooperation and proactive information sharing to bring the corrupt to justice.

Determined action will be further advanced in December at the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties in Egypt, which will decide on the steps needed to follow up on the political Declaration.

From this General Assembly special session to Sharm El-Sheikh, we have the opportunity to reinvigorate and innovate, to strengthen good governance and the rule of law, so we can tackle present problems and equip future generations to meet the challenges to come.

I hope that 2021 will be remembered as a turning point in a time of greatest need, when Member States, the UN and all our partners rose together against corruption, to restore trust and generate real change for a fairer world.

UNODC is here to support you. Thank you.

Opening of the UN General Assembly Special Session Against Corruption