Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here with you today to address this event on anti-corruption at the crossroads of peace and development.
I would like to thank Colombia for co-sponsoring this event with us, and to thank all of you for joining us.
Across the work of the UN, it is well-established that peace and security are building blocks for sustainable development, and that development and security are mutually reinforcing.
Corruption is a cross-cutting challenge that undermines both security and development.
Agenda 2030 recognizes the fight against corruption as a priority, particularly in Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions, which is a key enabler for many of the other SDGs.
When private gain illicitly takes priority over public good, every aspect of sustainable development can be affected.
From education to sanitation, services deteriorate in quality and accessibility.
Important sectors such as health and infrastructure leak money and lack competition.
Public resources are misused, wasted, and diverted.
Corruption also reinforces exclusionary stereotypes about women and limits their economic power and opportunities.
Developing countries suffer the biggest impact.
Some estimates indicate that corruption, tax evasion, and illicit financial flows cost developing countries more than 1.2 trillion dollars a year.
By weakening institutions and creating avenues for illegal profit, corruption also hampers peace and security.
With 2 billion people now living in conflict-affected areas, we need to pay urgent attention to corruption as a risk factor and threat multiplier.
Corruption compounds the risk of conflict and violence by deepening inequalities and undermining the effectiveness and legitimacy of state institutions.
Where conflicts are already taking place, corruption can prolong them.
We have seen armed and terrorist groups take advantage of corruption to acquire poorly secured firearms, to illicitly exploit natural resources for profit, and to find channels to access financing.
And in post-conflict settings, corruption can impede accountability, damage trust, and obstruct effective rebuilding.
Beyond conflicts, corruption can also hold back responses to global crises.
During the pandemic, for example, corruption threatened procurement processes and economic relief funds.
Today, it facilitates illicit activities that deepen the triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption, the UNCAC, is the established global framework to tackle corruption challenges, with near-universal membership.
Over the past months, we have seen growing momentum to step up comprehensive anti-corruption efforts through the UNCAC.
In June of 2021, the General-Assembly held its first-ever Special Session against corruption, reaffirming the importance of mainstreaming transparency and anti-corruption in the broader development agenda, and calling for greater efforts to integrate anti-corruption in UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
In the lead up to the Session, we managed to elaborate a UN system-wide common position to address global corruption, highlighting the same holistic approach.
In December of 2021, the ninth Conference of States Parties to the UNCAC promoted a multi-sectoral approach to fighting corruption, and adopted a declaration on the need for robust anti-corruption efforts in times of crisis.
The Secretary-General’s report on “Our Common Agenda” also includes among its key proposed actions tackling corruption in line with the UNCAC.
We need to work together to capitalize on this momentum.
Anti-corruption should be incorporated into different aspects of UN work, across the spectrum of peace and development.
Efforts to rescue and achieve the SDGs need to include anti-corruption as a cross-cutting enabler, in policy documents and in programming.
Bodies such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council can lead the way by ensuring that integrity and transparency are given due priority in the pursuit of sustainable development.
Meanwhile, UN peacekeeping and special political missions should be designed with a clearer anti-corruption component, and anti-corruption experts and advisers should be imbedded into such missions, where requested.
The Security Council can support this approach by placing anti-corruption high on the agenda of peacekeeping operations, and emphasizing ethics, integrity and accountability as core elements of their mandate.
The efforts of USG Lacroix will also be essential in this regard, and I take this opportunity to thank him for joining today’s event and giving attention to this issue.
As the guardian of the UNCAC, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime stands ready to help mainstream anti-corruption across the UN’s work.
We are currently working with DPO and DPPA on a practical guidance tool for practitioners in peace operations and post-conflict settings, to incorporate integrity in their work, and we look forward to more joint initiatives in this vein.
In parallel, our Office is stepping up our own support to Member States in the fight against corruption.
We are setting up regional anti-corruption hubs and have successfully established the first one in South Africa, to better tailor our support to needs on the ground.
We are facilitating cross-border cooperation, by supporting the recently established GlobE Network for anti-corruption law enforcement authorities, which now boasts 122 entities from 67 countries, as well as the StAR initiative on asset recovery.
Through our GRACE initiative launched last year, UNODC is helping Member States incorporate anti-corruption into education.
And through our research, we are exploring different facets of the challenge, such as the gender dimensions of corruption, and corruption in sports.
We also continue to assist States Parties to the UNCAC to develop the capacities needed to implement the Convention, and to benefit from the Convention’s review mechanism, which is helping identify and address important technical assistance gaps.
Through these efforts, we hope to inform and complement the broader work of the UN on peace, security, and development.
2023 will mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UNCAC by the General Assembly.
It is the right time to reflect on the implementation of the Convention, in support of peace and the global goals.
The 10th session of the Conference of the States Parties to UNCAC, which will be hosted by the United States of America next year, will be a great opportunity to build stronger bridges between the Convention and the UN’s broader work.
The following year, the Summit of the Future will offer another opportunity to highlight anti-corruption as a foundation for preventing conflict and building trust in institutions.
I encourage you to work with us to take advantage of those opportunities.
Together, we can ensure that transparency and integrity pave the way for more impactful interventions, towards peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.