By Pia Lee-Brago, December 10 2018; Philippine Star
Image Credit to Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — Every year, trillions of dollars, equivalent to more than five percent of global gross domestic production, are paid in bribes or stolen through corruption worldwide.
The United Nations made this report yesterday, marking International Anti-Corruption Day, to highlight the pervasive crime.
Around $2.6 trillion is lost annually to corruption – money that is urgently needed for healthcare, education, clean water, infrastructure and other essential services, the UN said.
“Corruption harms societies in multiple ways. It undermines democracy and rule of law, erodes quality of life, slows economic development, and enables organized crime and terrorism,” the UN noted.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
The Convention is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. It covers preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement.
Among the offenses covered are bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector. A highlight of the Convention is the inclusion of a specific chapter on asset recovery, aimed at returning stolen assets to their rightful owners, including countries from which they had been taken illegally.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the vital role of the Convention as one of the primary tools for advancing the fight against corruption.
“Through the Convention’s peer review mechanism, we can work together to build a foundation of trust and accountability. We can educate and empower citizens, promote transparency and strengthen international cooperation to recover stolen assets,” Guterres said.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime executive director Yury Fedotov said the international community has recognized that combatting corruption is essential to preventing and addressing root causes of conflict and violent extremism, building peace and protecting human rights.
“Governments understand that anti-corruption is critical to countering organized crime, including human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as trafficking of drugs, weapons and natural resources,” Fedotov said.
“Thanks to the Convention, nearly every country in the world now has laws in place making corruption a crime,” he said.
Through the Sustainable Development Goals, every country signatory to the Convention has committed to reducing corruption and bribery, strengthening the recovery and return of stolen assets and developing effective, inclusive and transparent institutions.