Press Releases

    SG/SM/9915
         SOC/CP/339
         8 June 2005

    No Country -- Rich or Poor -- Immune to Corruption, Public Good Always Suffers, Says Secretary-General in Message to Brasilia Forum

    NEW YORK, 7 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the fourth Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, delivered by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in Brasilia, 7 June:

    This global forum is an important contribution to the global fight against corruption.

    Corruption impedes economic growth, weakens democratic institutions, disrupts social order, destroys public confidence and undermines the rule of law. It fosters organized crime and helps terrorist groups to finance their brutal attacks. No country -- rich or poor -- is immune to this phenomenon. Both public and private sectors are involved. And no matter when, where or how corruption happens, what always suffers is the public good.

    In recent years, the United Nations has made steady progress in building a framework of international standards and norms for the fight against corruption and crime. The signing of the Convention against Corruption in Mérida, Mexico, in December 2003 has given the world an important tool for addressing the problem on a global scale. One hundred and twenty-three States have signed the Convention, and 23 have ratified it. We now need to bring this instrument into force as soon as possible, and I call on States to take the necessary action towards that end. I also urge them to work more actively with each other, and with the United Nations, in implementing the Convention’s provisions.

    Our greatest challenge today is to ensure that people everywhere can live in dignity, free from poverty, hunger, violence, oppression and injustice. For people in societies where corruption is rampant, those freedoms remain only a dream. It is my hope that this forum will contribute to our efforts to realize that dream. Please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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