Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Statement at the HLPF Side Event: Integrity of Public Institutions as an Accelerator for Attaining SDGs

Jul 10, 2017

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

UNDP is pleased and honoured to co-host this side event together with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea. As Ambassador Han rightly noted, the topic of this side event is very important. Enhancing the integrity of public institutions is key to accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We therefore commend the Republic of Korea for convening this dialogue on how to improve the integrity of public institutions.

The Republic of Korea and UNDP are partners through the Seoul Policy Centre, which shares with programme countries, Korea’s experience in corruption prevention. I had the pleasure of meeting our two senior officials, Mr. Park and Mr. Koh already in Seoul, and I am sure that their presentations will be interesting for us. I’m also delighted that we have Jose Ugaz as a discussant, as UNDP has established a strong partnership with Transparency International over the years. If I may say so, the best of independent public institutions, and the best of non-governmental civil society.

Having this side event today on the subject of integrity of public institutions has a historical importance in terms of the international development paradigm.

Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Agenda requires Member States to “build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Goal 16 also includes a specific target on effective, transparent and accountable institutions. This provides Member States a unique opportunity to act on the priorities of enhancing transparency and accountability of public institutions, and the UN system as a whole has a duty to support those efforts.

Inclusion of accountability and transparency targets under Goal 16 reflect the new consensus by the Member States as well as the strong call by citizens around the world that fighting corruption is not an option but a necessary building block of a prosperous and sustainable future. It is also a necessity to recover trust in public office, confidence in politician’s honorable service and satisfaction with government behavior.

The Corruption Perception Index of 2016 showed that 68% of countries around the world, home to 85% of the global population, are noted to have serious corruption problems. As the results of Transparency International’s 2016 survey highlighted, corruption and inequality are closely related, and the interplay of these two major challenges feeds populism and contributes to tensions in society.

Those who take advantage of integrity gaps are no better -but they are certainly not the origin of the problem. Their opportunistic message would not resonate if we did not have serious shortcomings in public morality and ethical handling of public affairs.

Integrity of public institutions, on the other hand, create an enabling environment for the achievement of the entire sustainable development agenda.

Put it this way: Most, if not all goals will require a robust institutional capacity to translate global priorities into real progress. Corruption-ridden public institutions will do the opposite. For instance, equitable access to public services that respond to people’s aspirations requires institutions that not only deliver efficiently, but also operate with integrity—on the basis of strong ethical standards and principles. 

A systematic focus on building the integrity of public institutions will help make a discernible difference to the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people in all countries, those who suffer most when the deck is slacked.

This is why today’s side event is meaningful in terms of the particular focus of this year’s HLPF on poverty reduction and prosperity. No prosperity without integrity, and no trust without transparency.

In this context, I warmly welcome today’s two presentations on how the Korean anti-corruption agency and subnational government have taken practical measures to increase integrity and prevent corruption in the public sector. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Around the world, UNDP has worked to expand access to justice, establish effective institutions, develop the capacity of parliaments, help conduct fair and transparent elections, as well as promote human rights, accountability and transparency.

Earlier this year, UNDP launched the Anti-Corruption for Peaceful and Inclusive Societies in the Asia-Pacific Region” (ACPIS) Project in partnership with Australia and Singapore. The aim of the project is to help governments and civil society to better integrate anti-corruption measures into their development plans and strategies.

Once again, I would like to thank Ambassador Han for co-hosting this event with UNDP. I also want to thank the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs for supporting our Seoul Policy Centre in sharing Korea’s practical anti-corruption experiences with many of our partner countries around the world.

Thank you.

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