Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for International Anti-Corruption Day, observed on 9 December:
Corruption is present in all countries, rich and poor, North and South. It is an assault on the values of the United Nations. It robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources. It undermines the rule of law and abets crimes such as the illicit trafficking of people, drugs and arms.
Tax evasion, money laundering and other illicit flows divert much-needed resources for sustainable development. The World Economic Forum estimates that the cost of corruption is at least $2.6 trillion — or 5 per cent of global gross domestic product. And according to the World Bank, businesses and individuals pay more than $1 trillion in bribes each year. Corruption begets more corruption and fosters a corrosive culture of impunity.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption is among our primary tools for advancing the fight. Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its targets also offer a template for action. Through the Convention’s peer review mechanism, we can work together to build a foundation of trust and accountability. We can educate and empower citizens, promote transparency and strengthen international cooperation to recover stolen assets.
Millions of people around the world have gone to the ballots this year with corruption as one of their top priorities. On International Anti-Corruption Day, let us take a stand for integrity.