For information only - not an official document
3 November 2015
Opening Remarks of the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs,
Side Event On Countering Corruption And The Implementation Of The 2030 Agenda And Sustainable Development Goals
Sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties (CoSP6) to the UN Convention against Corruption, St. Petersburg
ST. PETERSBURG/VIENNA, 3 November 2015 (UN Information Service) - I am honoured to address the Sixth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.
I want to thank my UNODC colleagues for organizing this important high-level side event.
It offers a dedicated occasion for a focused discussion on anti-corruption and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Anti-corruption is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda, not only because it is specifically highlighted in SDG 16 and its target 5, but also because it underpins all our efforts to achieve SDGs and associated targets.
Allow me to illustrate this point by sharing with you one real-life example.
In a mountainous region endowed with mineral resources, a company managed to secure - through bribery - mining rights and operations without going through adequate environmental impact assessment.
One day, a severe storm hit the region, breaking the tailings dam, which subsequently polluted the drinking water source downstream.
This led to public protests.
In response, the company agreed to pay for the construction of pipelines to bring tap water into the town.
One would assume that the problem was resolved, at least temporarily.
As it happened, the mayor of the town contracted out the management of the water piping station to his cousin, who levied an exorbitant charge for accessing the tap water.
Many poor residents, unable to afford the charge, went back to the polluted stream for their water needs.
It did not take long before a public health crisis emerged,
This case was covered by a mainstream newspaper a couple of years back.
Similar cases are continuing to happen across the world, as reported in the media.
What did this case tell us?
This case demonstrated that -
Because of corruption, the local ecosystem was degraded;
Because of corruption, poor households could not have access to safe drinking water;
As a result, there was an epidemic.
The linkages between anti-corruption and SDGs are clear to see.
Corruption costs - in fact hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damages (indeed, the World Bank put the estimated annual bribery paid at one trillion US dollars; while the World Economic Forum estimated the annual economic cost of corruption at US$ 2.6 trillion).
Not surprisingly, corruption undermines trust in government and the foundations of our public institutions.
Combating corruption, therefore, is vital in advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
That is why fighting corruption is everyone's business.
It is our common task.
Corruption is a systemic phenomenon. Piecemeal measures will not work in the long run.
We must combat corruption on all fronts.
First, we must engage all stakeholders, starting with our political leaders.
If we are to succeed in our fight against corruption, we must have the political will and commitment from the top leadership.
We need ethical leadership.
Second, we must enact and enforce legislation against corruption. Legal deterrence works when consistently and transparently enforced.
Third, we must establish professional public services and a culture of integrity to fight corruption.
If this means paying civil servants well, it will be worth it - experience shows it is a good investment when it is part of a national anti-corruption strategy.
Fourth, we must strengthen institutional arrangements to prevent and effectively remove conditions that encourage corruption - for example, by creating transparency for public spending, cutting red tape, and empowering oversight mechanisms, such as supreme audit institutions.
Fifth, we must tap into technologies, such as information and communication technologies and the Internet to foster accountable government and transparent and inclusive public services.
Many countries, for example, have adopted electronic transfer of social benefits, public procurement online, thereby helping eliminate opportunities for bribery or misappropriation of public resources.
Finally, we at the UN system must do more to help build capacity at the country level.
In this context, UN-DESA is ready to work closely with UNODC, UNDP, World Bank and others to enhance training and capacity building initiatives in combating corruption.
Let us work together and let us engage in this fight against corruption on all fronts.
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Conference website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
Conference website of the Host Country: http://www.uncorruption.ru/en/
For further information for the media go to:
For further information contact:
Spokesperson for the 6 th Session of the Conference of the States Parties
to the UN Convention against Corruption
Mobile: +7 921 437 8894 or +43 699 1459 5676
Mobile: +43 699 1459 5629
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