As the world marks anti-corruption day today, the United Nation says corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year.
“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the UN said.
The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.
The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.
In a message to mark the day, the secretary general of the UN, Mr. António Guterres deemed corruption “an assault on the values of the united nations.”
“It robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources,” he said.
The managing director of Transparency International, Ms. Patricia Moreira, said about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.
Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”
To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.
In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.
“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.
Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.
She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”
The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.
What can be done to fight corruption?
The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.
Tackling the issue
Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.
“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.
Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.
The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”
It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”
Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.
“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, (that) yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said.
The UN said every year, trillions of dollars – equivalent to more than five percent of global GDP – are paid in bribes or stolen through corruption, the United Nations reported on the International Day which serves to highlight the pervasive crime
The UN is fighting the global scourge, which affects both rich and poor countries, through initiatives like the global campaign launched jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The campaign recognizes corruption as one of the biggest impediments to achieving the SDGs, or 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all nations of the world in 2015, to advance the whole of humankind.
And to counter that pernicious reality, the campaign is asking communities to use the Anti-Corruption logo during related events, and highlight community actions related to the Day on social platforms by using the hashtag #UnitedAgainstCorruption and tagging @UNDP, @UNODC.
Government officials, civil society, the private sector, and anti-corruption advocates can reference the campaign’s “Call to Action Matrix,” which offers recommendations for strategies to stand against corruption.
Additionally, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted in 2003, exists as the only legally-binding, universal anti-corruption instrument.
Its far-reaching approach covers the full spectrum of corruption, and a vast majority of Member States, 186, are parties to the Convention.
Guterres called the Convention a “primary tool” for advancing the fight, and highlighted the positive outcomes made possible through its implementation.
“Through the Convention’s peer review mechanism, we can work together to build a foundation of trust and accountability,” he said.
With VOA/ UN News reports