Keynote Speech by Mr. Haoliang Xu at the 2015 Seoul Debates

Jan 29, 2015

MR. Haoliang Xu delivering the keynote speech (Photo: UNDP Seoul Policy Centre)

2015 Seoul Debates: Lessons Learnt on Anti-Corruption from Korea and Around the World

Date: 29 January 2015

Keynote Speech by Mr. Haoliang Xu

UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific

Honourable Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Shin Dong-ik,

Honourable Vice-Chair of the Korea Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission Ms. Kwak Jin-Young,

Excellencies,

Distinguished guests, UNDP colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour and pleasure to be a keynote speaker at the Seoul Policy Debates on Anti-corruption along with the Vice-Chair of the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission.

Let me congratulate the Republic of Korea (ROK) for taking the initiative to organise this event in partnership with UNDP.  I am pleased to see such an impressive gathering of representatives from government, UNDP and development partners, civil society, academia from the region and beyond. I would like to acknowledge with appreciation, our partners for the event, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission.

This event is a symbol of ROK’s rapid transition from one of the poorest aid-recipient country to a member of OECD Development Assistance Committee. In just sixty years, a country devastated by civil war has transformed into one of the most developed nations around the world. ROK’s rise from the rubble of the 1950-53 Korean War is a global development success story, a success story many developing countries wish to learn from. Today’s event shows the commitment from the government of ROK to assist other countries in pursuing developmental success. I’d like to quote former President Lee who said “Korea is committed to paying back its debts to the world as an international donor”.

The reason why we are gathered today is that poor governance and entrenched systems of corruption remain a major challenge for human development. Globally the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global GDP (World Economic Forum). Almost $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year according to the WB.

In this region, despite the high economic growth, inequalities are rising. In Asia Pacific over 700 million people live in extreme poverty, and an almost equal number (the entire population of Europe) live without electricity.  And this is due in large part to poor governance and corruption.

As Einstein once said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."  It requires bold imagination, innovation and willingness to take risks.

Today’s meeting is a great opportunity to:

1.      Build up a platform of peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing among experts on the lessons learnt from effective anti-corruption strategies

I believe that putting in perspective ROK’s experience with other countries will be a great occasion to draw lessons on how anti-corruption can be promoted as part of a wider development agenda. Lessons learned from today’s meeting will be valuable for the debate on the post-2015 development agenda spearheaded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

The ROK has received international recognition for its achievements in this area – e.g. with several UN Public Service Awards. To improve public service delivery the government introduced open government tools that have revolutionized the way citizens and government interact.  It has also introduced integrity assessment tools that have been replicated by many governments. The ROK has been pro-active in assisting other countries across the world modernize their public sector and integrity practices, for example in the area of participatory audits.

It is not to say that corruption has been eliminated in ROK, but progress is there. Also, at the international level, we benefit from a global roadmap for addressing corruption with the UN Convention against Corruption that has been signed by 173 State parties.

2.      Identify strategic opportunities for building partnerships on anti-corruption

We, at UNDP, are committed to enhancing south-south and triangular cooperation in the region and beyond.

Cooperation between the UNDP and Korea in supporting other countries in the area of governance and anti-corruption is not new. For example in 2007 UNDP launched a joint program with the Korean anti-corruption agency to provide technical assistance to countries in Asia Pacific, such as Bhutan and Bangladesh, in developing anti-corruption strategies and providing training to anti-corruption officials.

This meeting is a new opportunity to explore strategic opportunities for building partnerships on anti-corruption at the global level. These opportunities will be considered in the context of the new Development Solutions Partnerships (DSPs). This new approach aims to connect Korea with the wider UNDP network and enhance the Korea-UNDP partnership on strategic development issues.

Our UNDP Seoul Policy Centre will act as a broker to forge new partnerships between Korea and the developing world. The Development Solutions Partnerships will benefit from our presence in 177 countries, and our infrastructure at the regional and national level with the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and the recently established policy center in Singapore (Global Centre for Public Service Excellence). The Global Anti-Corruption Initiative will play a key role in ensuring the cross-sharing of knowledge on anti-corruption.

With the wealth of experience gathered in this room today, I am sure that we will come up with innovative solutions to tap on these opportunities.

I’d like to conclude with a quote from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonin this year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

“[This] year the world will agree a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Our aim is to empower individuals and catalyse governments, the private sector and civil society to help lift millions out of poverty, protect the planet and achieve shared prosperity and dignity for all. Eliminating corruption and its harmful impacts will be crucial to our future well-being.”

Thank you.