Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the President of the Economic and Social Council for bringing us together to consider how we can mobilize around SDG 16 to fight corruption.
As the Secretary-General made clear last week, we are still very far from achieving the SDGs, even losing ground on some of them.
The 2030 Agenda’s vision of a peaceful and prosperous world is in real peril, while millions of people around the globe continue to endure poverty, violence, discrimination and exclusion.
SDG 16 is a key enabler of many other SDGs.
At the same time, corruption is both thriving on and fuelling the multiple crises we face today, undermining every aspect of sustainable development.
To help put the SDGs back on track, we must take decisive action now to tackle corruption’s cross-cutting challenge to the 2030 Agenda.
Corruption takes a heavy toll on our societies, increasing poverty and inequality, and eroding public trust in government and the rule of law.
It weakens national institutions, breeding inefficiencies and deflecting resources from essential services such as healthcare and education.
And as we have seen during the pandemic, corruption can impede crisis response and recovery efforts.
As with so many other challenges to sustainable development, it is the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable who suffer most from corruption.
Women are disproportionately affected by certain forms.
Low-income countries are burdened more heavily by corruption.
According to the 2021 SDG Progress Report, the prevalence of bribery was 37.6 percent in low-income countries, versus 7.2 percent in high-income countries.
UNCTAD has reported that from 2013 to 2015, illicit financial flows out of African countries almost equalled the combined annual totals received in development assistance and foreign direct investment — averaging some 102 billion dollars per year.
From 2000 to 2015, total illicit capital flight from the continent amounted to 836 billion dollars.
Corruption has a global impact as a threat multiplier, undermining stability and security.
It is a key tool for criminal networks, building links with governments and legitimate businesses that facilitate organized crime and trafficking in drugs, arms and people.
Corruption also paves the way for crimes that affect the environment, contaminating fragile ecosystems, threatening biodiversity, increasing risks of environmental disasters, and endangering food chains.
And by weakening the ability of States to protect their citizens, corruption intensifies the risk of conflict and violence, as well as terrorism.
Corruption’s infiltration is so pervasive that the only way we can stamp it out is through a comprehensive response and cooperation at the national, regional and international levels.
ECOSOC, along with the General Assembly, can lead the way by ensuring that anti-corruption efforts are prioritized in our pursuit of sustainable development, with SDG 16 as our guidepost.
The UN Convention against Corruption provides us with a comprehensive framework for strengthening integrity, transparency and accountability and ending impunity.
As the only legally binding, universal anti-corruption instrument, the Convention bolsters international cooperation in tracking, investigating and prosecuting corruption, and recovering stolen assets.
Two years ago, at the General Assembly’s first-ever Special Session against corruption, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the Convention and to integrating transparency and anti-corruption efforts into the broader development agenda.
This year’s 20th anniversary of the Convention’s adoption, which the Conference of the States Parties will mark in December, is an ideal opportunity to turn these ambitious commitments into action as part of a larger effort to ramp up progress toward the SDGs.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is ready to support you.
As guardian of the Convention against Corruption, UNODC assists the 189 parties to develop capacities to implement their commitments, and to make the most of the Convention’s peer review mechanism, which identifies good practices, gaps in implementation and technical assistance needs.
Our research, data collection and analysis help States identify patterns and trends that can inform their anti-corruption policies.
Last year alone, UNODC technical assistance reached over 10,000 anti-corruption practitioners in 44 countries.
This helped States to:
We are creating a network of regional anti-corruption hubs to help us better tailor our support to needs on the ground and promote interregional and South-South cooperation.
The first hub opened in Mexico last year; two more will open soon in Kenya and Colombia, and others are in the pipeline.
Tackling corruption requires a whole-of-society approach.
This calls for partnerships between the public and private sectors, civil society, academia and the media, so I am glad to see all these sectors represented today.
UNODC values our partnerships with all of you, as well as with other international organizations that are working to advance SDG 16, including IDLO.
The private sector has a special role to play in fighting corruption, including through the innovative use of new technologies to ensure transparency in procurement, supply chains and other business areas.
UNODC supports the private sector in promoting internal transparency and accountability, and in implementing anti-corruption policies.
We also need to work with young people, women and everyone who wants to ensure that we all enjoy equal opportunities and equal protection under the law.
UNODC’s research report on the gender dimensions of corruption, The Time Is Now, shows that inclusive societies are less corrupt, and that gender equality policies can have a positive impact on preventing corruption.
At the same time, anti-corruption policies that incorporate gender equality principles are better equipped to level the playing field.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have the chance to create a better world if we work together to tackle corruption.
By promoting integrity, transparency and accountability, we can help rebuild the trust in government and the rule of law that is essential to SDG 16, and accelerate progress toward sustainable development.