Countering corruption contributes to further strengthening human rights and creates an enabling environment for the protection and promotion of human rights.
The negative consequences of corruption are a global reality. While it is facilitated by internal and external conditions and enabled by legal, policy, institutional and capacity gaps, corruption also hampers the resilience and capacities of societies necessary for the fulfilment of peace and security, human rights and development.
It undermines the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law, and creating bureaucratic quagmires that perpetuate their existence through bribery and misappropriation of funds. Corruption often reaches into governments, judiciaries and parliaments, undermining the state and the effectiveness of its institutions. If a widespread public perception exists that institutions are corrupt, and that criminal acts remain unpunished, it damages the legitimacy of government in the eyes of the public and leads to a loss of popular support and trust. It meanwhile erodes the institutional capacity of government institutions as formal procedures are ignored, resources are diverted for private gain, and public officers are paid off through bribery or other means of enrichment.
Corruption not only may lead to violations of specific human rights, but also represents a structural obstacle to their implementation and enjoyment. Corruption may further aggravate the existing human rights violations that are experienced by members of vulnerable groups who face difficulties in accessing public goods and services as well as accessing justice.
Curbing corruption is thus vital and, to be effective and enjoy legitimacy anti-corruption laws and policies must be implemented in accordance with international human rights law. Human rights are not an obstacle to effective anti-corruption measures, as is sometimes said; rather human rights and anti-corruption measures complement each other.
Based on that Strategy, UNODC integrates a human rights-based approach into the planning and conduct of its activities, including efforts to increase awareness about and deepen the understanding of the inherent and mutually reinforcing connections between human rights, gender, and corruption.
UNODC contributes to strengthening the integrity and accountability of domestic institutions and improving the transparency of and citizens’ participation in government decision-making processes, resulting in improvements in governance that advance the rights of individuals and groups and enhances the capacity of respective national counterparts to comply with their international human rights obligations.
As the guardian of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, UNODC supports States parties in their efforts to implement the Convention and address corruption across a wide range of sectors, while incorporating a human rights perspective, including with respect to education, sports, health, crimes that have an impact on the environment, judicial integrity, international law enforcement cooperation and asset recovery.