The United Nations’ International Anti-Corruption Day took place on Friday, focussing this year on corruption as one of the most significant barriers to achieving the organisation’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
According to the UN, some $1 trillion is paid out in bribes to crooked officials every year, while an estimated $2.6 trillion is stolen as a result of corruption. Funds lost to corruption in developing countries are thought to be at least 10 times the amount of official development assistance, the United Nations Development Programme estimates.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s inspiring new manifesto for transforming our world and building a better future for all,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.
“But as we undertake this crucial journey of implementation, a broad barrier stands in our path: corruption. No country is immune, and every country bears a responsibility to end it.
“By diverting domestic and foreign funds, corruption wrecks economic and social development and increases poverty. It harms everyone, but the poor and vulnerable suffer most.”
Ban said the UN Convention against Corruption is advancing global progress toward ending corruption through prevention, criminalisation, international cooperation and asset recovery. The convention, which became effective in December 2015, is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument, focussed on tackling crimes including embezzlement, blackmail and money laundering.
Transparency International marked Anti-Corruption Day by urging people to sign its Declaration against Corruption, noting that people are dying in the developing world as a result of western aid being siphoned off by corrupt officials.
Individuals signing up to the organisation’s declaration pledge to neither pay nor seek bribes, work with others to campaign against corruption, speak out and report wrongdoing and only support candidates running for public office who denounce corruption.
In Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov called on the global community to come together to fight against corruption.
Noting that leaders attending the G20 summit in September adopted new High Level Principles on Cooperation on Persons Sought for Corruption and Asset Recovery and agreed on a new anti-corruption action plan for 2017-2018, Syromolotov said: “Given the scope and cross-border nature of corruption, no country can deal with it alone. It is necessary to combine efforts to totally and irreversibly eradicate this evil. That is why the international organisations and associations name the anti-corruption problem among its priorities.”
International Anti-Corruption Day has taken place every year since the passage of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003. The Convention states that the UN is “concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardising sustainable development and the rule of law”.