UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned against allowing acts of bribery and corruption to infest the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure rapid global post-pandemic recovery.
Guterres, in a message on International Anti-Corruption Day, on Wednesday, underscored the need to ensure that recovery from COVID-19 was not hampered by corruption and unscrupulous acts.
The secretary-general regretted that corruption had thrived under the coronavirus pandemic and anyone involved in graft must be prevented from exploiting the rollout of new vaccines.
“Governments are spending rapidly to get economies back on track, provide emergency support and procure medical supplies.
“Oversight may be weaker. And the development of vaccines and treatments adds to the risk of bribery and profiteering,” he said.
The UN scribe added that corruption drained resources from people who needed them, undermined trust in institutions, exacerbated the vast inequalities exposed by the virus, and hindered a strong recovery.
“We cannot allow stimulus funds and vital emergency resources to be diverted … recovery from the pandemic must include measures to prevent and combat corruption and bribery,” he stressed.
In his message, Guterres outlined the need for broad partnerships to strengthen oversight, accountability and transparency, building on the global anti-corruption tools provided by the UN Convention against Corruption.
He called for action against corruption to be part of broader national and international reforms and initiatives to strengthen good governance, tackle illicit financial flows and tax havens, and return stolen assets, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
“On International Anti-Corruption Day, all of us – governments, businesses, civil society and all stakeholders – must resolve to work together to promote accountability and end corruption and bribery for a more just and equal world,” the UN chief said.
The International Day, observed on December 9 every year, was established by the UN General Assembly in 2003 to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing it.
In 2020, it is being commemorated under the theme of “Recover with Integrity”, which emphasised that an inclusive COVID-19 recovery could only be achieved with integrity and accountability.
Events marking the Day focused on mitigating corruption and enhancing accountability in the public health sector, emergency/economic responses to the pandemic, and the private sector.
In addition, corruption in sports and gender and corruption were also be highlighted, to outline the importance of sport for development and peace, and the need for diversity to break up corrupt networks, respectively.
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