On March 28, AmCham hosted a webinar titled “Integrity: The Path to Development, Inclusivity and Prosperity” with guest speaker Ghada Waly, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC) in Vienna.
Waly highlighted ODC's role in preventing and combating corruption that accelerated the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed longstanding vulnerabilities and presented new opportunities for the corrupt to exploit,” said Waly. “Our fight must be strategic, systematic, inclusive and sustained. Integrity must be the anchor of our efforts. The private sector and civil society are key partners.”
Waly discussed the influence of corruption on societies, its disproportionate effect on women, the plight of Africa and how the ODC is working with its partners to reverse the spread of corruption and counter its impact.
“Corruption costs the global economy more than $3 trillion every year, a staggering amount of money,” she said. The erosion of public trust and undermining the rule of law are fundamental symptoms of corrupt societies and governments. She also noted the effect of corruption on the environment, as well as trafficking in firearms, drugs, humans and wildlife.
Procurement and deployment of vaccines are also susceptible to corruption leading to manufacturing and trafficking of fraudulent products. “A sustainable recovery from the pandemic must include robust measures for financial integrity and be inclusive, leaving no one behind,” Waly said.
She shared various insights on the ODC's efforts to curtail corruption, announcing the Ninth Conference of the State Parties to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption to be hosted by Egypt in Sharm El Sheikh from Dec. 13 to 17. “The previous session [...] resulted in adoption of 14 resolutions and a vast number of important recommendations, including on integrity programs in the business community and greater engagement between public and private sectors,” she said.