Corruption is not only immoral, but is a serious crime. It is often organized, and crosses borders. Most importantly, it betrays people and democracies.
It steals trillions of dollars from people all over the world – usually from those most in need, as it siphons off resources for sustainable development.
When powerful people get away with corruption, people lose trust in their governing institutions. Democracies are weakened by cynicism and hopelessness.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, countries all over the world were roiled by huge anti-government demonstrations. Corruption was one of the protestors’ main grievances. We can be sure those protestors are watching closely now, as trillions of dollars are invested in recovery.
Turning the tide against corruption is essential if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, promote peace, and protect human rights.
We must reinvigorate political commitment to fight this crime. We must also strengthen international cooperation to recover stolen assets, and prevent those responsible for corruption from finding safe havens for themselves and their funds.
The creation of the Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities, launched as the United Nations General Assembly holds its first-ever Special Session against corruption, is a step in the right direction.
The Network will enable law enforcement authorities to navigate legal processes through informal cooperation across borders, helping to build trust and bring those guilty of corruption to justice.
We expect the Globe Network to empower all countries with practical solutions and tools to track, investigate and prosecute corruption, complementing existing frameworks.
The United Nations system will continue to provide technical assistance to fight corruption, backed by the UN Common Position on Corruption agreed in the run up to the Special Session, and based on the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
I thank the Government of Saudi Arabia for funding and launching the Riyadh Initiative to create the Globe Network during their G20 Presidency last year, and I call on all governments to make full use of the network and encourage further efforts to eradicate corruption..
Ending impunity for corruption, and returning stolen assets to their owners, are important steps towards a new social contract based on trust, integrity and justice.