U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the closing session of the 2012 Economic and Social Council high-level panel on accountability and transparency. Photo by: Rick Bajornas / U.N. Photo

How many times have we heard of corruption undermining development?

At the 2012 Economic and Social Council high-level panel on accountability and transparency, which concluded Monday (July 9), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon again reiterated the importance of combating corruption. Peace, development nor human rights “can flourish in an atmosphere of corruption,” he said.

The problem, long considered to be a social disease, has led to lost bridges and chances for education and capacity building. The fate of the Padma River bridge, which is expected to boost development in Bangladesh, is now in limbo after the World Bank canceled a $1.2 billion loan meant for the bridge’s construction.

The education of some children in Nigeria has been hampered after a former governor stole some $250 million in public funds. And funding for a project to build the capacity of civil society groups in Tanzania has been compromised after an audit revealed a portion of it has disappeared. It is vital to fend off corruption in weak and fragile states, where rule of law and institutions remain vulnerable, Ban stressed.

This rings true especially for Afghanistan. Despite pledging $16 billion in civilian aid over the weekend, donors continue to be wary of providing financial assistance to the country because of corruption issues.

The panel, attended by more than 500 government ministers, civil society heads and members of the private sector, called on a renewed commitment for countries to ratify the U.N. Convention against Corruption, the first legally binding anti-corruption instrument obliging states to criminalize corruption, recover stolen assets and improve technical assistance, among others.

Thirty percent of development aid last year failed to reach “its final destination” owing to corruption, Ban said, adding “we cannot let it persist.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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