UNGA president pledges not to let corruption continue unchecked
President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Volkan Bozkir, said on Wednesday that the effects of corruption are "detrimental to all of society" and it should not be allowed to continue unchecked.
"We cannot pretend that there were no issues before the COVID-19 pandemic," said Bozkir during the first day of a special session convened to galvanize political will to fight the scourge. "Transnational financial crime and corruption are unfortunately commonplace in our interconnected, interdependent world."
The UNGA president, or the PGA, said that corruption affects decision-making processes and "remains one of the most critical challenges for states, institutions, and communities."
From corroding public trust to weakening the rule of law and destabilizing peacebuilding efforts to undermining human rights, the PGA outlined the negative repercussions of corruption.
It hits the poor, marginalized and vulnerable people hardest and "impedes progress" toward gender equality and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he added.
"We cannot allow corruption to continue. We will not," the PGA spelled out.
Bozkir, a veteran Turkish diplomat, highlighted the need to build upon existing progress, including through the UN Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and Corruption; the international conferences on financing for development, which resulted in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; and the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity, for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel).
The UNGASS (the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly) Political Declaration to tackle corruption builds upon existing architecture to provide the international community with "a roadmap for the future," he said.
"It will guide member states in their work to fight corruption and money laundering, as well as critical efforts to recover assets and prevent illicit financial flows," which derail SDGs progress, the PGA noted.
"Corruption thrives in a crisis," Bozkir stated, noting that corrupt actors have exploited the unprecedented strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on supply chains, infrastructure and systems around the world.
Amid a complex global vaccine roll-out effort, he urged policymakers to "leverage this special session" to take concrete measures to prevent and address corruption by closing loopholes and putting safeguards in place.
"We must learn from this experience because the next crisis will come, and we will need to be prepared to meet it when it does," said the PGA, inviting attendees to a high-level supporting event Thursday on addressing corruption in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.