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Zero Corruption Equals 100% Development

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 2013 (IPS) - Progress in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been hitting road blocks due to corruption and lack of good governance in many countries, according to the United Nations.

Corruption’s complexity is either directly or indirectly felt by billions of citizens across the globe as it undermines human rights and intensifies poverty. Results also show that corruption fosters detrimental and draining effects plus, it slows down economic development.

The United Nations also points out that corruption not only creates social, political and economic devastation, but also undermines democratic institutions, which eventually causes governmental instability.

In commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, a biannual international conference brought together member state parties of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Panama. More than 1,400 participants from all over the world discussed progress and challenges in the implementation of provisions to prevent and combat corruption.

“This is a huge problem that should unite us all. It is clear that corruption is a serious challenge that not one segment of society can solve alone,” said Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, who gave a statement from the UN Headquarters in New York.  He added, “We have to do it together. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.”

According to World Bank estimates, developing countries are being drained of roughly 35 billion dollars annually, due to extortion and bribery. Therefore, over the last decade, the private sector has made it a priority to recognize its role in helping  fight corruption.

The UN also insists upon embedding the principles of social and environmental accountability, fair labour practices and anti-corruption into the global marketplace.

The launch of a campaign “Call to Action,” by the UN Global Compact  ( UNGC), is making efforts to mobilize and encourage governments and local businesses and governments to act against corruption. This calls for businesses to do business based on fair competition and good governance, because many businesses in developing countries still give in to corrupt practices.

The campaign sets its focus on highlighting corruption’s caustic effects by stating that it increases the costs of doing business, as small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs. The crime also distorts markets and impedes economic growth because foreign direct investment is discouraged. Corruption affects health in a country as it removes the focus from averting child deaths and fighting epidemics like HIV/AIDS.

The UN says it honours the commitment to fulfilling its obligations, and offers reassurances that an increasing amount of anti-corruption measures, as well as robust post-2015 development efforts to eradicate this crime, are underway.

“To achieve an equitable, inclusive and a more prosperous future for all, we must foster a culture of integrity and accountability,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message to mark International Anti-Corruption Day. “That is why transparency, the rule of law and good governance should be taken into account as we set global development priorities for the post-2015 period.”

With the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), another campaign – called ‘Zero Corruption, 100% Development’ – is currently underway.  It was designed by youths – for youths – to raise awareness of corrupt practices that seems to spread virally.  In a closing statement, Eliasson said, “You can count on the Secretary-General and me in advancing this important cause.”

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