People across the world continue to come together to confront a virus that is upending the way we live, work, and cooperate. That includes everything from volunteer doctors and nurses who are lending their medical skills to tackle the virus, to countries that are sharing vital medical supplies and millions of doses of the vaccine to block the rampaging path of COVID-19. Yet corruption is infecting our collective response to this devastating pandemic and no country is immune. It hinders our ability to ensure that everyone has access to the vaccine, causing thousands of extra lives to be lost. Notably, corruption is also draining vital resources from countries that are needed to power the socio-economic recovery and it is fueling the loss of our natural world.
The United Nations (UN) is assisting countries and communities to address the underlying causes of corruption that is estimated to cost $2.6 trillion annually. The United Nations Convention against Corruption is the only global anti-corruption instrument that contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda by fostering accountability, integrity, and transparency. These principles are critical in times of crisis -- in and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The UN has also set up a Global Task Force on Corruption, co-chaired by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which reinforces a One-UN approach to support countries in preventing and addressing corruption. Or look to an initiative by the UNDP, the World Health Organisation, and the Global Fund to strengthen integrity in health systems and promote universal health coverage.
UNDP’s new Strategic Plan 2022-2025 commits the organisation to help shape inclusive state institutions resilient to corruption and abuse of power, founded upon the principles of integrity, transparency, and accountability. And UNDP’s next generation of anti-corruption support is helping countries to leverage the power of technology and innovation to boost anti-corruption efforts. For instance, it is empowering communities in Uganda and Sri Lanka to use digital tools to mainstream integrity and transparency in environmental resource management. Or consider Ukraine where a new e-platform supported by UNDP is increasing transparency in procurement. We are also helping to ensure that more people can speak out against this scourge -- from young people in Bangladesh to city councils in Fiji.
At UNDP, we are committed to ensuring transparency, accountability, and continuous self-reflection and learning with the support of independent assessments and audits. We proactively tackle any issues identified through independent oversight systems. We strive to continuously strengthen our performance in line with the highest standards of excellence that UNDP has set for itself – and we work hard to help our partners to do the same. As part of these efforts, open.undp.org provides the public with access to data on over 10,000 UNDP projects. Indeed, the 2020 Aid Transparency Index rated UNDP with a score of 96.6 out of 100 -- an increase of 1.2 points since the last Index was published in 2018.
All stakeholders -- from governments, the UN and the private sector to civil society, the media, and individuals -- have rights and responsibilities when it comes to tackling corruption. At a time when countries and communities require billions of dollars to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP is committed to assisting countries to root out corruption from every aspect of society. Doing so will help to mobilise valuable development finances towards critical areas -- from helping vulnerable communities to adapt and respond to our climate crisis; to supporting efforts to protect and restore our natural world; to advancing groundbreaking endeavours to extend clean, affordable energy to millions of people. United against corruption, we can accelerate the global momentum needed to address the complex development challenges that our world now faces.
Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
The theme of the 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day is “Your right, your role: Say no to corruption”.