Statement by the Director-General at the Special Session of the General Assembly on Challenges and Measures to Prevent and Combat Corruption and Strengthen International Cooperation
It is a pleasure to address this special session of the General Assembly on reinforcing our common commitment to prevent and combat corruption.
As the only global intergovernmental organization exclusively dedicated to promoting peace and sustainable development through the rule of law, IDLO endorses this Assembly’s urgent call to tackle corruption.
The Political Declaration recognizes that corruption is a threat “to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, our ethical values and justice, and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law.”
COVID-19 has magnified the scope of this challenge, which has not just hampered global efforts to respond and recover from the pandemic, but has also further eroded already low levels of public trust in governments.
The world is experiencing a crisis of confidence in public institutions at a time we need them most.
Since the pandemic began, IDLO has worked with partners around the world to address emerging justice needs, including strengthening measures to combat corruption.
In countries including Armenia, The Bahamas, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Somalia, and Ukraine, we are helping to make justice institutions more transparent and responsive and enhancing their capacity to prevent, detect and prosecute fraud and economic crime.
IDLO is also supporting the work of the G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group chaired by Italy.
Allow me to share three points drawing on this experience:
First, the pandemic provides us with an opportunity to rebuild open, transparent and accountable institutions that deliver for people.
This means transitioning to people-centred models of governance, including approaches to anti-corruption.
It is in this vein that I would like to applaud the inclusion of specific references to gender equality, the importance of advancing women’s empowerment, and the commitment to improve understanding of the gender dimension of this problem.
Digital innovation, including emerging technologies, digital tools, open data, and digital government approaches can play a key role in increasing cost-effectiveness, and efficiency, while reducing risks of corruption.
I am glad to see this reflected in the Political Declaration, but we must ensure that the implementation of these approaches is equitable and inclusive, and does not create new forms of discrimination.
My second point is that ensuring judicial independence and integrity must be a priority.
The judiciary has a critical role to play in the fight against corruption - and I am glad to see the Political Declaration reiterates the importance of safeguarding its independence.
We must strengthen the ability of justice officials to prevent, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate offences related to corruption.
In IDLO’s experience, specialized anti-corruption judicial bodies are also an effective way to provide timely resolution of corruption cases, while avoiding delays and back-logs.
Third, and most importantly, we must work together to put the principles in the Declaration into practice.
Rebuilding peoples’ confidence in government was highlighted as a major challenge by global leaders in the United Nations 75th Anniversary Declaration last year.
And, as the recent SDG 16 Conference, organized by IDLO, together with Italy and UNDESA, underlined, the rule of law is critical to addressing the root causes of this lack of trust.
It can enable governments to act quickly and decisively, through effective laws and institutions.
It can support decision makers to balance competing interests fairly and transparently.
It can ensure that relief efforts benefit intended recipients and promote a more just and sustainable recovery.
And it can protect the least powerful and give them a voice in the debate, helping to build trust.
Ensuring continued political and financial support for justice institutions and the rule of law, is therefore, critical.
I would like to close—as the Political Declaration does—in the spirit of multilateralism.
The pandemic has shown us that our most pressing challenges require solidarity and international cooperation, and corruption is no exception.
IDLO stands ready to work with our national and international partners to advance effective, sustainable, and innovative solutions to combating corruption, both in this time of crisis, and beyond.
The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) enables governments and empowers people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity.