UN Says Global Corruption Costs US$2.6 Trillion Annually

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. | Photo: Reuters

The top U.N. official argued that corruption is directly responsible for robbing funds from schools, hospitals, and other vital public institutions.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council Monday that corruption is present in all countries, “rich and poor, North and South, developed and developing.”

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Speaking at a session meant to deal with corruption for the sake of peace and international security, Guterres affirmed that the “numbers show the startling scope of the challenge,” as he cited World Economic Forum estimates that corruption costs at least US$2.6 trillion, or five percent of global gross domestic product.

The top U.N. official argued that corruption is directly responsible for robbing funds from schools, hospitals and other vital public institutions; breeding disillusionment with governments and public policies; and depriving people of their rights.

He also emphasized that corruption could result in conflict, as well as “drives and thrives on the breakdown of political and social institutions.”

“The poor and vulnerable suffer disproportionately,” Guterres stressed, “and impunity compounds the problem.”

He blamed corruption on numerous forms of violence and instability, including the trafficking of weapons, drugs, as well as people. He pointed out that the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly have recognized the links between corruption, terrorism and violent extremism.

“Large-scale corruption surveys conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that bribery of public officials was particularly high in areas affected by conflict,” Guterres affirmed.

“It is especially important to build up the capacity for national anti-corruption commissions and prosecutorial efforts,” he told the council while imploring government officials to guarantee independent judiciaries, a free press, and whistleblower protections.