Uniting against corruption

Fighting for development, peace and security

October 23, 2018

The 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) commenced on 22 October 2018, for three days, under the theme “Together for Development, Peace and Security: Now is the Time to Act.” Hosted by the Government of Denmark, UNDP has been a partner of the IACC series since its inception. This year, UNDP is represented at the highest level, with the participation of Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, at the high-level political session.

With over 1,500 participants, the 18th IACC seeks to build the global anti-corruption momentum by assessing the effectiveness of the global fight against corruption, addressing existing gaps between anti-corruption policies, institutions and their effectiveness, and ensuring a strong commitment of political leaders, international institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations in their collective action to fight corruption.

Many member states are now in the process of localizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which acknowledges that fighting corruption is not only crucial for building peaceful, just and inclusive societies, it is also one of the conditions for accelerating progress towards the achievement of all Sustainable Development Goals. This IACC aims to provide action-oriented recommendations for anti-corruption efforts in support of this endeavour and in the face of emerging global challenges such as humanitarian crises and migration, insecurity, and violent extremism.

Although the precise estimate is debatable, corruption is undoubtedly a major bottleneck to development. From a development perspective, resources lost through corruption, bribery, money laundering or illicit financial flows could have been invested in healthcare, education, social security and other public goods and services. The World Economic Forum estimates that the cost of corruption is $2.6 trillion, while an estimated $16 billion is needed to wipe out world hunger, $8.5 billion to eradicate malaria, $1 trillion to bridge the global infrastructure gap and $26 billion to provide basic education for all children. Effective anti-corruption efforts provide a huge potential for unlocking large levels of financing for development.

The indirect consequences of corruption can be even more damaging – the erosion of trust in government institutions, undermining the legitimacy of political and economic institutions, and the severe threats to peace and security nationally, regionally and internationally.

From a human development perspective, human capabilities and human freedoms continue to be undermined by corrupt practices that distort income distribution and public expenditure decisions. The 2018 Human Development Report highlights that quality, not just quantity of human development, is important; that progress is not linear or guaranteed, and crises and challenges can reverse gains; and, while gender gaps in early years are closing, inequalities persist in adulthood.

Corruption has a direct and indirect impact on all challenges mentioned above. Corruption worsens the quality of services, disproportionately impacts women and vulnerable and marginalized populations and poses a dangerous threat to peace and security. Comparing TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 and the recent 2018 Global Peace Index, the five countries perceived to be most corrupt also rank among the seven least peaceful countries in the world.

It is clear that corruption can exacerbate conflict, either by helping to create the conditions for conflict to thrive and for impunity for criminal behavior to persist, or by acting as an obstacle to strengthening governance structures in violent, fragile or post-conflict settings. Corruption can also be a significant driver or enabler of violent extremism, including through a ‘magnetic effect’ if security institutions are perceived to be corrupt; if there is sense of injustice and violation of a person’s basic humanity; and if people perceive their political systems to benefit only certain groups in society.

UNDP is committed to enhancing the global discourse on the links between corruption, development, peace and security. At this 18th IACC, UNDP, working together with GIZ, Sida, TI, UNODC, International Anti-Corruption Academy and other partners, is organizing three dedicated anti-corruption workshops. UNDP and UNODC are also launching three new knowledge products: Good Practices in Public Sector Excellence to Prevent Corruption; a Manual on Corruption Surveys, and an online course on Anti-Corruption and the 2030 Agenda.

Please join us in contributing to the global discourse on building a strong nexus between anti-corruption and the ‘development, peace and security agendas,’ leveraging technology and innovation to enhance the impact of anti-corruption efforts and ways to foster political will to ensure the effectiveness of existing anti-corruption commitment.