Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message, delivered by Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, in Vienna today:
My warmest greetings to the seventh session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Corruption can strike anywhere. I have seen how corruption hits the poor, the weak and the most vulnerable of all. It can deny people access to health services, schools and economic opportunities. It can deny them hope of a better future. Corruption cannot be justified in the name of financing campaigns or paying back favours.
Corruption obliterates people’s faith in good governance. It can enable a small elite in positions of power to prosper while others pay the price, seriously damaging the relationship between the State and its people. This is why your work is so important, and why efforts to fight corruption must go hand-in-hand with sustainable development and good governance.
We can only achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development if every nation has strong, transparent and inclusive institutions, based on the rule of law and supported by the public.
The implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted by 183 parties, is delivering real change. I am encouraged to see legal institutions in many countries taking decisive action against high-level corruption.
The United Nations is ready to support all efforts to create a culture of integrity and the rule of law. But we need the full engagement and support of the business and financial communities. We need civil society to continue its valuable work. Most of all, we need young people to engage and to change minds and practices so that the corruption of today plays no role in the future.
Global leaders of all kinds — Government, corporate, religious, cultural — must lead by example and prove themselves trustworthy, to restore people’s faith in their own institutions and Governments.
I commend your efforts and wish you a fruitful discussion.