“To truly overcome endemic corruption, we must aim for a fundamental shift in mindsets, which reject corruption at all levels,” said Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC, in her opening speech. “We need to send this message to the people we serve, through this conference and through our actions.”
About 150 countries are gathered at this conference to advance action through the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and strengthen integrity responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The fight against corruption is essential to protect human rights and promote democratic accountability. This is an important step towards inclusive and sustainable development, ”said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in a video message to the conference.
“This conference is our chance to come together to strengthen cooperation and accelerate global action against corruption. Let us restore hope and restore confidence in institutions. Now is the time to act for a more secure, prosperous and fairer future, ”he added.
UNODC Chief Ghada Waly at the opening of a United Nations Anti-Corruption Conference in Cham el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Billions of dollars lost every year
Ghada Waly called the Covid-19 pandemic a “global wake-up call” to uphold integrity.
“The world is losing billions of dollars every year to corruption, at a time when every dollar is needed to increase public investment,” she said. “Just as it breaks resilience and exposes people to hardship, corruption also enables criminals, traffickers and terrorists to take action.”
Ms. Waly stressed the need to raise awareness and bring together all stakeholders – political leaders, institutions, private sector, civil society, media, youth and women – in the fight against corruption.
More than 2,000 people representing governments, regional and intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector have registered to participate in person and virtually at the conference, which runs until December 17.