Statement read by the UN RC at an event marking Anti-Corruption Day, held in Accra.
It is with much honor that I join you today to commemorate this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day. Your presence shows that you attach as much importance as I do to the fight against corruption, and to the role of good governance in ensuring inclusive development.
Impact of corruption
Corruption is not only immoral but is a serious crime. It is often organized, and crosses borders. Most importantly, it betrays people and democracies.
Corruption can also undermine democratic stability and social justice. It is one reason given for the recent military overthrow of the government in Guinea, for example. Let us also not forget that in Ghana, corruption was one of the main reasons for coups d’état that disrupted democratic governance in the past.
It steals trillions of dollars from people all over the world – usually from those most in need, as it siphons off resources for sustainable development. This could cost as much as$2.6 trillion annually. When people are unable to access basic services because monies that can be used to provide services are siphoned, then we have a serious problem which must be dealt with. This practice could fuel and inhibit peace processes to thrive by undermining the rule of law, worsening poverty and facilitating the illicit use of resources, and providing financing for armed conflict.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015, acknowledges that corruption is a key obstacle to sustainable development. Sustainable Development Goal 16, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and NACAP obligate Ghana to conduct studies on corruption and to make them a regular, scientifically based measurement of its occurrence.
This year’s message and theme:
This year, the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) seeks to highlight the crucial link between anti-corruption and peace, security, and development. At its core is the notion that tackling this crime is the right and responsibility of everyone, and that only through cooperation and the involvement of each and every person and institution can we overcome the negative impact of this crime. States, government officials, civil servants, law enforcement officers, media representatives, the private sector, civil society, academia, the public and youth alike all have a role to play in this.
The 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day Celebration also marks the start of our efforts to mark the twentieth anniversary of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). This is reflected by the theme of this year’s international day, “UNCAC at 20: Uniting the World Against Corruption”.
It is our utmost belief, that over the next year, culminating with IACD 2023, together with partners worldwide, we will be reflecting on a world made better thanks to the collective push afforded by the Convention and, crucially, what gaps remain to ensure this is a truly strong mechanism for the years ahead.
State of corruption perception in Ghana
After improving its scores two points up from 41 out of 100 in 2019 to 43 out of 100 in 2020, Ghana maintained this score ranking 73 out of 180 countries on the latest corruption perception index in 2021. In addition, the latest global corruption barometer reports that 33% of Ghanaians thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months and 33% of public service users paid bribe in the previous 12 months.
Today, corruption has permeated all sectors of society – public and private, economic, social and environment. The anticorruption messaging therefore needs to cut across all sectors, not forgetting the importance of anti-corruption and integrity advocacy amongst the youth, our future leaders.
Commend efforts by government and stakeholders
Let me take this opportunity to commend government efforts at curbing corruption. The National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) of Ghana is unique among national strategies for tackling corruption in that it acknowledges the “disproportionate negative impact of corruption on women, children and other ‘equity-seeking groups’ such as persons with disability and other vulnerable groups”.
I also want to take this opportunity to recognize the contribution of other non-state actors, individuals and stakeholders who are actively involved in the discourse and awareness creation contributing in diverse ways to curb the incidence of corruption in Ghana. This is in line with the spirit behind Goal 17 of the SDGs – partnerships. Government alone cannot not succeed in this fight.
There is more room for improvement if all stakeholders come together to unite efforts towards anti-corruption action. The improved collaboration amongst state institutions to use research and development, such as the 2022 Ghana Integrity of Public Services Survey conducted by the GSS and CHRAJ with the support of UNODC, to inform policy action against corruption is laudable.
When powerful people get away with corruption, people lose trust in their governing institutions. Democracies are weakened by cynicism and hopelessness.
The United Nations system will continue to provide technical assistance to fight corruption, backed by the UNCAC.
How can we curb the prevalence of corruption in Ghana (advocacy messages)
Corruption cannot be overcome if we do not do anything. Everyone has a responsibility to act against corruption. We need collective action to curb corruption in our societies.
To conclude, permit me to emphasize a few proposals for consideration:
Education: corruption can be controlled through collective action. Before they can take collective action, people need to understand the devastating impact of corruption. There is the need to educate the public to help build a strong anti-corruption culture.
Prevention: Monopoly and discretionary powers over services and resources often leads to corruption. There is the need for constitutional and institutional reforms to actively prevent Ghana’s corruption
Enforcement: If law enforcement is weak, the fight against corruption will fail. Ghana needs to strengthen its enforcement regimes across all sectors.
A strong government’s commitment to law enforcement, prevention, and public education has been shown to control corruption, in other parts of the world.
We must ensure that finances reach such critical areas as health, education, basic social services etc. and are not lost to corruption. It is the responsibility of everyone, everywhere - from governments, international organizations and civil society to young people and individuals - to oppose this crime that is blocking communities’ development pathways.
Together, let us Unite Ghana and the World Against Corruption for Development, Peace and Security