Corruption has thrived under the coronavirus pandemic and anyone involved in graft must be prevented from exploiting the rollout of new vaccines, the UN Secretary-General has said.
In a message on International Anti-Corruption Day, on Wednesday, Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the need to ensure that recovery from COVID-19 is not hampered by corruption and unscrupulous acts.
“Governments are spending rapidly to get economies back on track, provide emergency support and procure medical supplies. Oversight may be weaker. And the development of vaccines and treatments adds to the risk of bribery and profiteering,” he said.
Corruption drains resources from people who need them, undermines trust in institutions, exacerbates the vast inequalities exposed by the virus, and hinders a strong recovery, he added.
“We cannot allow stimulus funds and vital emergency resources to be diverted … recovery from the pandemic must include measures to prevent and combat corruption and bribery.”
In his message, Mr. Guterres outlined the need for broad partnerships to strengthen oversight, accountability and transparency, building on the global anti-corruption tools provided by the UN Convention against Corruption.
He called for action against corruption to be part of broader national and international reforms and initiatives to strengthen good governance, tackle illicit financial flows and tax havens, and return stolen assets, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“On International Anti-Corruption Day, all of us – governments, businesses, civil society and all stakeholders – must resolve to work together to promote accountability and end corruption and bribery for a more just and equal world,” the UN chief said.
The International Day
The International Day, observed on 9 December every year, was established by the UN General Assembly in 2003 to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it.
This year, it is being commemorated under the theme of “Recover with Integrity”, which emphasizes that an inclusive COVID-19 recovery can only be achieved with integrity and accountability. Events will focus on mitigating corruption and enhancing accountability in the public health sector, emergency/economic responses to the pandemic, and the private sector.
In addition, corruption in sports and gender and corruption will also be highlighted, to outline the importance of sport for development and peace, and the need for diversity to break up corrupt networks, respectively.