Photo credit: Andriy Krepkikh / UNDP Ukraine

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

I am sending you this message to commemorate the International Anticorruption Day, which takes place each year on December 9 – one day set aside by the United Nations to remind us of the cancerous effects of corruption.  As in the way cancer can attack one’s body, if not treated and removed, it can have serious consequences.  Corruption can weaken the state, undermine rule of law, and destroy public trust in governments and leaders. It also undermines human development and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It diverts public resources away from essential services, increases inequality and obstructs national and local economic development by distorting markets for goods and services.

As UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez recently said, “Corruption is criminal, immoral and the ultimate betrayal of public trust.”

Unfortunately, corruption has been increasing during this time of COVID-19, which is creating new possibilities  to exploit weak oversight and inadequate transparency, diverting funds away from people in their hour of greatest need.  Such criminal behaviour is bad enough during normal times, but is even more damaging to a country and its people in times of crisis.  

The challenge of corruption is so prevalent during the pandemic that the chosen theme for this year’s international anti-corruption day  is “Recover with integrity.” The Secretary General has said we must all work together to stop such thievery and exploitation by “clamping down on illicit financial flows and tax havens; tackling the vested interests that benefit from  secrecy and corruption; and exercising utmost vigilance over how resources are spent nationally.”

No one country can point a finger at another as being “corrupt.” Corruption is a phenomenon that affects all countries, everywhere, both rich and poor alike. That is why as part of a country’s development process, it is essential to build the necessary institutions and legal frameworks to catch and confront corruption wherever it may raise its ugly head.

UNDP, as the UN's global development network and the leading multilateral development partner for more than 170 countries and territories, includes anti-corruption support as a key component of its work. We work with governments around the world to tackle corruption and its consequences. Through our Global Anti-Corruption Initiative, our teams focus on strengthening systems, institutions and civic engagement to combat corruption and to better manage and deliver public resources.

We also work closely with and in support of the UN Convention Against Corruption, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2003. The Convention is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument in the world today. It also provides key tools to foster accountability, integrity and transparency in times of crisis.  

There is no silver bullet for fighting corruption, but one of the most effective ways to end it is for all people to be constantly vigilant and to have zero tolerance for it.

Ukraine has demonstrated such zero tolerance and has launched an ambitious anti-corruption reform in 2015, which is aiming at building a robust anti-corruption system composed of both investigative and preventive anti-corruption agencies.

UNDP is working closely with the Government of Ukraine to develop and implement numerous programmes designed to fight corruption.  For example, since 2015, UNDP has equipped 60 civic activists, journalists, and community leaders with knowledge and tools for tackling corruption in their communities. We also organize and run an annual Anti-Corruption School, offering exposure to the best practitioners in the national transparency and integrity arena for community service organizations. We recently developed a mobile app through which people can report corruption cases.

If we are to create the world we want to ensure peace and prosperity for everyone everywhere, we must redouble our efforts in the fight against corruption. Our individual and collective commitments will ensure that we deliver on one of the main UNDP's priorities to end poverty and create resilient, prosperous, safer and more cohesive countries.

Please join me in this effort to end corruption!

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