Dear President Heinz Fischer, Co-Chair of the BKMC Centre,
Executive Secretary, Mr. Martin Kreutner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
And Dear Global Citizens,
It is my great honor, and pleasure to visit IACA again and address during this Colloquium, hosted by the IACA, this morning. Thank you for your participation.
On behalf of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens co-chaired with the President Heinz Fischer and myself, I wish to inform you that last August our Centre signed a Mamorandum of Understanding of cooperation with the IACA on the occasion of the European Alpbach Forum.
I am very much happy to be back eight years after participating in the inauguration of this very important organization here in Vienna while I was serving as the Secretary General.
How to make this world free from corruption lies on the top of the agenda. People say that the most beautiful palace will collapse, if you build it on sand. It is important to make this world free from all forms of corruption.
But unfortunately, corrupt practices are still a part of reality.
I’d like to highly commend the Dean Martin Kreutner and his hard-working staff as well as its 76 member states. The organization has seen a huge growth in terms of size. The IACA has also worked in close cooperation with the United Nations, the European Union and other regional organizations and I would like to highly commend this.
In 2017 Transparency International asked 160.000 people globally to identify which institutions were the most corrupt. The police and election officials were listed as number two of the top corrupt institutions according to the questioned people.
Around the world nearly 1 in 4 said that they paid a bribe when accessing public services in the last year. Looking at the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index of 2017 and the recent 2018 Global Peace Index we discover that the five countries perceived to be most corrupt also rank among the seven least peaceful countries. The good news is more than half the people around the world – and particularly young people – agreed that citizens could make a difference.
Now, 58% of young people up to 24 years feel empowered to make a difference. 50% of those aged above 55, elder people, also agreed that they can influence things to the better.
From development perspective, the resources lost through corruptions are simply drained without being used for productive purposes.
The Davos World Economic Forum estimated that the cost of corruption is $ 2.6 trillion annually, while at the same time $ 16 billion could wipe out world hunger, $ 8.5 billion could eradicate malaria, $ 1 trillion could bridge the global infrastructure worldwide and $ 26 billion could provide basic education for all children. Therefore, $2.6 trillion lost through corruption could make our societies much better. Having all children into the school.
Effective anti-corruption efforts provide a huge potential in this regard.
Not many people like all these statistics. When I was starting my job as Secretary-General, I had some media training. All these anchormen and anchor women advised me, “SG don’t use all these numbers nobody remembers number. You may be aware of these numbers but the people will forget. They only remember you face and one or two keywords. Don’t use abbreviations like IACA. What does IACA mean? Nobody remembers IACA. Don’t use abbreviations. Don’t use statistics. But I’m not the Secretary-General anymore. I’m just telling you some secrets without receiving any money. I paid a lot of money for this media training. So that is one thing. Particularly ambassadors should remember this training to make your interview impressive without using all these statistics.
Corruption has disastrous impacts on development when funds should be devoted to schools, health issues, but are actually going to wrong directions. Corruption even exacerbates political insecurity and conflicts.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a comprehensive platform for governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and individual citizens to combat corruption.
Through prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and asset recovery, this Convention advances global progress toward ending corruption.
Anti-corruption efforts are indeed a vital part of achieving the SDGs.
To combat corruption and its vicious cycle, the international community must join hands with the public and private sector and there must be civil society watchers.
There is a saying that goes, “you cannot catch a thief with ten policemen on earth. ten police officers can easily be fooled.” We have the civil society as a guard and watcher to end corruption.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a recent report by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on Sustainable Governance Indicators in OECD and EU regions, the findings show much room for improvement.
The quality of democracy for the cases evaluated in the report, included a sub-category of “Rule of Law” for corruption prevention.
The findings of the report are troubling and show that not even the major industrial countries of the world are immune to the erosion of democracy and corruption.
There is still corruption in Canada, the United States or in European Union.
Of the 41 OECD and EU countries profiled, 26 showed signs of deterioration in the quality of democracy compared to a report done 4 years ago.
Combating corruption is key to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
In the process of finalizing the Sustainable Development goals, some OECD countries were pushing to include a goal that represented justice, accountability, strong institutions like IACA. Many developing countries opposed this, stressing that development issues should not include justice issues that would interfere with their domestic politics in the name of Sustainable Development Goals.
There was a lot of final negotiation. Developing countries were threatening to reject the Goals, while the European Union threatened to not support developing countries anymore. That was a big final confrontation. In the end there was an agreement that peace, justice and strong institutions should be added to the Goals as the SDG 16.
The SDGs should be implemented as a whole. You cannot choose only one. We have to do more.
SDG 16 is IACA’s main purpose. It is committed to avoid bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption, but also to proactively develop policies to make our institutions stronger and accountable.
Large cases of corruption happen among big companies and smaller and medium-sized companies that work together with bigger companies.
Other International Organizations such as IACA continue to play an important role in fighting corruption.
Another important area is education: how do we teach our young generation, from the beginning? In that regard I believe it is important to stress the notion of global citizenship. This concept is often perceived as very vague. It is not like mathematics or science. But anti-corruption and global citizenship go together, hand in hand.
The International Organizations, like IACA or NGOs as well as other entities in the private and public sector – we have to work together.
My Predecessor, Secretary General Kofi Annan, initiated the Global Compact. About 12.000 big and medium-sized companies are members to this Global Compact and have pledged to follow ten principles. Among them principles about human rights, democracy, a good relationship between management and neighbors, transparency and accountability. Transparency and accountability are very important items of these ten commandments, as we call them. The business communities have it under their control to make business practices free from corruption.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We launched the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna because here we have a United Nations headquarters, we have the IACA, we have all these big international organizations. It is a quasi-international organization. In fact, my name Ban, is a surname that can mean “half” and now I am co-leading a half-international organization.
Promoting the notion of global citizenship is a critical tool in educating the youth of today and instilling in them a sense of collective responsibility for humanity and the planet.
Promoting the notion of global citizenship is a critical tool in educating the youth of today and instilling in them a sense of collective responsibility for the planet.
It is, at its core, the encouragement of empathy rather than blame, open-mindedness rather than the putting up walls, and partnership rather than isolation, global thinking rather than nationalistic notions.
I encourage all of you here today to take-on the mindset of a global citizen in your work and in the fight against corruption.
There is no room and indeed no time for corruption to persist and to derail our efforts toward providing a sustainable future for us all.
With a global perspective, collective responsibility, and compassionate leadership, I think we should work together to make this world a better place.