UN Secretary-General António Guterres says people across the world continue to express outrage at the corruption of their leaders and at how deeply the vice is embedded in societies. Addressing the UN Security Council on Corruption in Conflict on Monday in New York, Guterres said corruption was present in all countries, rich and poor, North and South, developed and developing.
He said numbers show the startling scope of the challenge.
Guterres said the World Economic Forum estimated that the cost of corruption was at least US$2.6 trillion or five per cent of global gross domestic product. He said according to the World Bank, businesses and individuals pay more than $1 trillion in bribes each year.
“People across the world continue to express outrage at the corruption of their leaders, and at how deeply corruption is embedded in societies. They are rightly calling for political establishments to operate with transparency and accountability or make way for those who will,” Guterres said. “I call on leaders everywhere to listen, to nurture a culture of integrity and to empower citizens to do their part at the grass roots. We must all do more to fight corruption, strengthen governance and build trustworthy institutions that can ensure probity and progress for all.”
He said corruption robbed schools, hospitals and others of vitally needed funds.
“It rots institutions, as public officials enrich themselves or turn a blind eye to criminality. It deprives people of their rights, drives away foreign investment and despoils the environment,” Guterres said. “Corruption breeds disillusion with government and governance and is often at the root of political dysfunction and social disunity. The poor and vulnerable suffer disproportionately. And impunity compounds the problem. Corruption can be a trigger for conflict. As conflict rages, corruption prospers. And even if conflict ebbs, corruption can impede recovery.”
He said corruption drives and thrives on the breakdown of political and social institutions.
“These institutions are never more in crisis than in times of conflict,” Guterres said. “Corruption is linked to many forms of instability and violence, such as the illicit trafficking in arms, drugs and people.”