Newsbrief, TerraViva United Nations

Ending Corruption is Crucial for SDGs

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 2 2015 (IPS) - “To achieve the sustainable development agenda, we must end corruption and bribery”, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at one of the world’s largest anti-corruption conferences in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Across the globe, corruption and bribery devastates lives. No country is immune; everyone suffers,” Ban told civil society members, media representatives and member States on Nov. 2 at the Sixth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

Ban illustrated the impact of corruption as it increases cost of living, depletes public funds, and facilitates other crimes, including illegal trafficking and terrorism, according to a statement released here.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion costs approximately 1.26 trillion dollars per year for developing countries, equivalent to the economies of Switzerland, South Africa, and Belgium combined.

The African Union estimated that 25 percent of its continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) is lost due to corruption. The unprecedented loss of financial resources affects access to key social services including health and education.

Globally, water infrastructure costs are increased by as much as 40 percent due to corruption, or an additional 12 billion dollars, per year, limiting the ability to provide safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation in developing countries.

Transparency International also found that in 86 countries, during a one year period, one in four people were forced to pay bribes when in contact with a public service provider, from health to tax authorities. For instance, in Mexico, families reportedly spend up to 14 percent of their income on bribes for basic services such as water, medicine, and education.

UNODC noted that the financial resources lost to corruption could lift the 1.4 billion people living on less than 1.25 dollars per day above the poverty threshold for at least six years.

In his opening address, UNODC’s Executive Director Yury Fedotov said there was a need to ensure public resources go where they are supposed to go.

In a message delivered by Fedotov, Ban Ki-moon also pointed to the Convention as a platform to work towards ending global corruption and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals contain the promise of a better collective future for people and planet, and they address the potential challenges that impede our progress,” Ban remarked.

He particularly highlighted SDG 16 which aims to decrease corruption and bribery in all its forms. He urged multi-sectoral action to end corruption. “Let us forcefully convey the message that when bribes are paid, everyone counts the cost,” he continued.

To fight global corruption, 177 countries became parties to UNCAC, the world’s first and only global corruption convention, in 2003. It binds countries in five core areas of corruption: prevention; criminalization and law enforcement measures; international cooperation; asset recovery and; technical assistance and information exchange.

However, progress has been slow. According to a report by Transparency International, almost half of OECD countries, which control over 20 percent of world exports, still have little to no enforcement on foreign bribery and corruption.

Meanwhile, a former General Assembly President John Ashe and a diplomat from the Dominican Republic, Ambassador Francisco Lorenzo, currently face charges of bribery and corruption.


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