UN Secretary General: End Corruption for a More Just and Equal World

Published: 09 December 2020

Antonio Guterres PhotoUN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres: "Corruption drains resources from people..." (Photo: UNIS Vienna/Lilia Jiménez-Ertl, Flickr, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

In a speech to mark International Anti-Corruption Day – December 9th, the United Nations’ most senior official said that governments must incorporate anti-corruption initiatives into their plans for recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

UN Secretary General, António Guterres noted that recent years have seen increasing “anger and frustration” over allegations of graft among the world’s governments, and that the outbreak of COVID-19 had only created a wealth of further opportunities for corruption.

As governments continue “spending rapidly to get economies back on track, provide emergency support and procure medical supplies,” greater measures must be taken in “strengthening oversight, accountability and transparency” so as to safeguard public interests, with “the development of vaccines and treatments” posing a particular risk of “bribery and profiteering.”

“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. We cannot allow stimulus funds and vital emergency resources to be diverted,” Guterres said.

The Secretary General also stressed that, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, “action against corruption should 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.”

“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,” Guterres concluded.