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Thursday, February 29, 2024
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 2013 (IPS) - With some 40 billion dollars lost every year to corruption in the developing world alone, the United Nations has repeatedly called on member states to practice transparency and good governance.
Addressing the world body on International Anti-Corruption Day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to foster a “culture of integrity…and accountability” in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight poverty-reduction targets whose deadline is fast approaching.
Ban added that corruption is anathema to economic growth since it drives up prices, deepens inequality and affects the sustainable management of a country’s resources.
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that at least a trillion dollars are paid in bribes every year, while a further 2.6 trillion dollars are stolen, a sum that amounts to more than five percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Crunching the numbers for the developing world, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found that “funds lost to corruption are estimated at ten times the amount of official development assistance (ODA).”
These losses are not only felt in the depths of a country’s coffers but have ramifications among the most marginalised members of society, since corruption is believed to have a positive correlation with smuggling of arms and migrants, human trafficking, illegal trade in endangered species and money laundering.
Experts at the U.N. say corruption creates ripple effects that attack the very foundations of a society, undermining the criminal justice system, diverting essential funds away from such sectors as healthcare and education, and reducing employment opportunities.
Bad governance also takes its toll on the environment, with corruption paving the way for the rampant abuse of natural resources, weakening of regulations in sectors such as mining, forestry and fishing, enabling trade in protected species and greenlighting poorly planned extraction projects.
A UNODC fact sheet states, “Corruption increases the costs of building water infrastructure by as much as 40 percent – this equates to an additional 12 billion dollars a year needed to provide worldwide safe drinking water and sanitation.”
Both the UNODC and the UNDP stepped up to the challenge on Monday by launching the “Zero Corruption – 100% Development” joint campaign, aimed at raising awareness among youth who can act as effective change-makers in their societies.
Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the 2003 U.N. Convention Against Corruption – ratified by 171 of the organisation’s 193 member states – the U.N. Global Compact teamed up with the UNDP to roll out a “call to action” in the hopes of mobilising private and public sector enterprises in the fight against the global scourge.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said Monday, “The Convention is countering corruption in the areas of development, the environment, in the private sector, during major public events, match-fixing, asset recovery, and in many other areas of our lives.”
One of its biggest strengths has been the inclusion of a review mechanism, now in its fourth year, which enables countries to assess one another’s progress on combating corruption. To date 35 states have employed the mechanism with varying degrees of success, including the training of 1,400 anti-corruption experts, according to Fedotov.
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