New York

09 July 2012

Secretary-General's closing remarks at High-Level Panel on Accountability, Transparency and Sustainable Development

It is a great pleasure to join you today.  Though I am just off the plane from Japan, I wanted to take part in this event and to stress to you all the great importance I attach to this topic.

In fact, the issue of corruption and accountability was very much with me in Tokyo, where I attended the latest in an important series of conferences on Afghanistan.

The international community has remained firm in its support for Afghanistan’s development.

I am encouraged that Member States have pledged a further 16 billion dollars over the coming three to four years.

I also welcome the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. 

This should give confidence to Afghans and donors that the commitments they have made to each other will be monitored and honoured.

Afghanistan has many challenges that we are determined to overcome.

Sadly, corruption is among them.

Corruption hampers the ability of nations to prosper and to grow.

But this is not just a problem for Afghanistan.  Far from it.  It occurs in every country, in every region.

Usually the people with the least power bear the greatest cost.

They must pay bribes for services that should be their right – such as a driver’s license or  health care… or fair treatment by police or a fair hearing before an impartial court. 

Such corruption feeds criminality, it impairs economies, weakens democracy and fuels public distrust.   

You are aware of this, and have discussed it freely and in depth today.

I welcome the discussion.  It goes to the heart of our ideals and goals.

Neither peace, development nor human rights can flourish in an atmosphere of corruption.

The impact of corruption is particularly profound in societies where the rule of law is fragile and institutions are weak.  

And the impact on development is direct and devastating.

Last year, corruption prevented 30 per cent of all development assistance from reaching its final destination.

This translates into bridges, hospitals and schools that were never built, and people living without the benefit of these services.

This is a failure of accountability and transparency. 

We cannot let it persist.

The UN Convention against Corruption, with its Peer Review Mechanism, embodies a strong global consensus to eradicate this disease.

By reviewing each other, nations are working towards mutual responsibility.

But let us go further.  Let us forge strong links with the private sector, civil society, education, the media, women and young people to build cultures of integrity.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

The outcome document of last month’s Rio+20 Conference highlights the insidious damage corruption inflicts on society.

It urges all States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and begin its implementation.

More broadly, accountability and transparency feature throughout – between donors and recipients; and between the United Nations system and Member States.

Only through such accountability can we achieve sustainable development.

Rio+20 was a step towards a sustainable future.  Now we have to take the next steps – and we must take them together.

We must all be transparent and accountable for our commitments.

If we do this – if we live up to the promise of Rio and all the conferences and declarations that preceded it – we can build a better world for all.

I will do my utmost to make this happen – and you can hold me accountable.

Thank you very much.