Corruption affects people in their daily lives. It bars them from accessing resources and opportunities. It erodes trust in public institutions and compromises the social contract. In doing so, corruption thwarts our attempts at building a better world.
As we enter a decade of ambitious action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on time, stepping up efforts to eradicate corruption and promote good governance is essential if we are to deliver on our global pledge to leave no one behind. To win the fight against corruption is to create the conditions necessary to effectively combat poverty and the inequalities that stem from it.
Notable progress has been made in the past fifteen years on the criminalization of corruption and the recovery and return of stolen assets, thanks to the almost universally-ratified United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). For ten years now, implementation of the Convention has benefited from a unique peer-review mechanism, serving as a trigger for countries to launch legislative action, strengthen their institutions and increase cooperation.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) helps the international community to translate the Convention into effective action and advance the global anti-corruption agenda. An important part of this is assisting preparations for the first-ever UN General Assembly special session against corruption in 2021.
In building inclusive momentum for this key occasion, we have to listen to the voices of young people who are demanding transparency and moving the dial by taking action in their communities. We must capture the full potential of innovation in the fight against corruption, harnessing technology for monitoring, reporting, raising awareness and countering those who exploit it to enable their crimes.
We cannot afford to let corruption threaten our future. Standing united against corruption, we are standing up for justice, protecting the rule of law and increasing the chances that prosperity in our societies can be enjoyed by all.