Graft Directly Threatens Poverty-reduction, Other Millennium Development Goals, Secretary-General Says at Launch of Regional Anti-Corruption Centre

12 December 2011

Graft Directly Threatens Poverty-reduction, Other Millennium Development Goals, Secretary-General Says at Launch of Regional Anti-Corruption Centre

12 December 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Graft Directly Threatens Poverty-reduction, Other Millennium Development Goals,

Secretary-General Says at Launch of Regional Anti-Corruption Centre

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of the Regional Centre on Transparency, Integrity and Combating Corruption in Doha, Qatar, on 11 December:

It is a great honour to participate in this important inauguration meeting of this Anti-Corruption Centre.

Corruption is a global phenomenon that impedes development and promotes inequality and injustice.  It is a direct threat to the important gains we have made in reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

When desperately needed funds fail to reach their destinations, it is the poor and vulnerable people who are denied education, health care and other essential services to maintain a dignified [life].

At a time when many millions of people are suffering grievously from the economic crisis and rising prices for food and fuel; at a time when there is great pressure to cut back on aid and spending on social services and safety nets; the fight against corruption takes on even more urgency than it had already.  I, therefore, welcome the increasing number of activities by Governments and the private sector to fight corruption at the national and international levels.

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremony of the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Vienna.  Today’s event is another step forward in our collective journey of implementing the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The establishment of this new Centre comes at a historic time when the people of this region have voiced their emphatic rejection of corruption and demanded that Governments do more to combat this crime against democracy and to promote equitable development.  Millions of ordinary people have said no to corruption.  The international community must listen.  Member States, private business, media and civil society, international and regional organizations — all must heed the cry.

The private sector has a particularly prominent role in combating corruption.  Corruption distorts markets.  It increases costs for companies and ultimately for the consumers, as well.  Building strong partnerships between the private and public sectors is crucial if we are to create a more transparent global economy and address practices that generate vulnerability to corruption.

The cooperation of civil society is also crucial in resisting corruption and building a culture of integrity.  Civil society is especially well placed to help develop policies that support the poor, women and minorities, to increase public participation in decision-making, and to monitor service delivery, budgeting and Government expenditure.

Of course, fighting corruption is a job for all of us, from CEOs in boardrooms to police on the streets, from civil servants in their ministries to prosecutors and judges in their courtrooms.  We all have a responsibility to speak up in the face of corruption.  Integrity starts with individuals.

Here in the region, I am pleased to see an enhanced focus on anti-corruption education.  This focus has received new impetus from the recently adopted Marrakesh Declaration.

I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the State of Qatar, and in particular, to the Crown Prince for his vision and to the Honourable Attorney General, Dr. Ali Mohsen Fetais Al-Marri, who hosted and ably presided over the third session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption here in Doha two years ago.  Through the establishment of the Regional Centre, Dr. Al-Marri has once again shown Qatar’s clear leadership role in the international anti-corruption agenda.

I also acknowledge the contribution made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to the establishment of the Centre, and pledge the further support of the entire United Nations system to the operation of the Centre.  The United Nations must deliver as one when combating corruption.

In particular, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as guardian of the Convention, is a potential partner.  Most recently, UNODC cooperated with the Government of Panama in the design and launch of the Regional Anti-Corruption Academy for Central America and the Caribbean.  That experience could offer lessons and guidance for the effort now getting under way here.

The fight against corruption is and must remain firmly at the centre of our efforts to advance the rule of law, promote human rights and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  An alarmingly high percentage of global gross domestic product (GDP) is lost each year to corruption, including in the areas of education, food aid and medical assistance.  Our fight, in essence, is to recover the stolen futures of ordinary people.  We cannot fail them.

I wish this new Centre every success in its important work.  The United Nations stands ready to offer whatever guidance and assistance it can.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.