UNITED NATIONS, 15 Oct — Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, calls on everyone to work together to eradicate corruption in all its forms, as this global scourge is not just a crime is not, but also immoral and the ‘ultimate betrayal’ of public trust.
In a statement issued Thursday, he stressed that corruption amid the coronavirus pandemic is even more damaging in its impact on the most vulnerable.
“The response to the virus creates new opportunities to exploit poor oversight and insufficient transparency, and divert funds away from people in their hour of greatest need,” the secretary general said.
Corruption during the pandemic could seriously undermine good governance worldwide, sending the world even further off track in its efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he added.
There are also many direct health hazards: “Groupless retailers sell faulty products such as – defective fans, poorly manufactured tests or counterfeit medicines”, says Guterres, noting that collusion among those controlling supply chains has led to outrageous price increases, which market and many people deny life-saving treatment.
The UN will continue to prioritize transparency and accountability, inside and outside the COVID-19 response, the UN chief promised.
The Secretary-General called on governments to be careful and not to act hastily, to ensure that the suppliers become veterinarians, and to ensure fair prices of essential goods, as the supply chains are still under tension .
He also encouraged everyone to join hands against corrupt and exploitative acts.
‘We must work together to stop such theft and exploitation by trapping illegal financial flows and tax havens; tackling the vested interests that benefit from secrecy and corruption; and exercise the utmost vigilance over how national resources are spent, ”Guterres said.
“We need to create more robust systems for accountability, transparency and integrity without delay,” he added.
The UN chief also called for governments and leaders to be transparent and accountable, and for businesses to act responsibly, emphasizing the importance of a vibrant civilian space and open access to information. Whistleblowers who reveal wrong things should get the legal protection they deserve to call out corruption.
“Technological advances can help increase transparency and better monitor the procurement of medical supplies,” the secretary general said, adding that bodies need to be supported and empowered against corruption.
The Secretary-General also urged nations to use an important tool provided by the UN: adopted by the General Assembly in 2003, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, came into force in December 2005. It currently has 187 states.
It is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption tool, and the far-reaching approach and mandatory nature of many of its provisions make it a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to corruption.
Through five key areas – preventive measures; criminalization and law enforcement; international cooperation; asset recovery; and technical assistance and exchange of information – the Convention covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trafficking in influence, abuse of function and various acts of corruption in the private sector.