Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Corruption and Conflict
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Corruption and Conflict, 10 September 2018, New York.
Thank you very much Madam President,
We are very grateful to the Secretary-General for his intervention this morning, and also to John Prendergast for his account of how corruption affects societies, drives conflict and also for your very concrete recommendations to this Security Council.
The Security Council’s mandate to maintain international peace and security, prevent conflict and address root causes makes the topic of corruption highly relevant for the Council’s work. We therefore welcome this discussion today, especially as it places a significant emphasis on prevention and sustaining peace.
Corruption can be defined as the abuse of power and trust for private gain. It affects all countries, it doesn’t recognize boundaries and can spread through all levels of public agencies. Corruption cuts across entire populations, but hits the most disempowered members of society the hardest. Women are often more at risk of suffering the consequences of corruption. This is because they tend to have weaker access to services and are also at higher risk for sexual extortion and physical abuse. We recognize how corruption contributes to the destabilization of fragile states and is ultimately one of the drivers of conflict. The recent UN and World Bank Study Pathways for Peace also mentions corruption as an underlying source for conflict and violence.
In contrast, when people trust their service providers, their institutions, their governments and elected officials, the path towards stable societies is more firm. Knowing that everyone is treated equal would give especially the most disempowered a sense of belonging and security, giving us a better opportunity to end circles of violence as a result of political exclusion.
Our multilateral efforts have produced strong political commitments to support anti-corruption initiatives. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially goal 16 on stronger institutions and goal 10 on reducing inequality among countries, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the UN Convention against Corruption are important foundations for these commitments.
The Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace agendas of the UN are also directly relevant for the fight against corruption. Security Council Resolution 2282 on sustaining peace stresses the need to strengthen rule of law, promote accountability, good governance and gender equality. The resolution also highlights the need to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Addressing corruption is partial to honoring these commitments.
Anti-corruption efforts are given a high priority by my country both at home and multilaterally and through our development cooperation. We support increased democratic participation, which requires strong and independent judicial systems, political institutions and free media. This in turn reinforces transparency and accountability, making abuse of power more difficult.
We also support partner countries to combat corruption by strengthening institutions such as tax and audit authorities. As an example, we organized the Stockholm Tax Conference last May, to promote capacity building in the area of taxation. Efficient, transparent and effective tax administration supports poverty reduction and equality. It is closely linked to the fight against corruption.
In this Council we see every day how conflicts have devastating effects on countries by undermining institutions and the rule of law, creating more avenues for corruption. It is crucial to keep this aspect in mind when we plan for UN peacekeeping operations and special political missions. Work against corruption needs to be clearly included in the mandates and in the support we give on capacity-building and reform of Rule of Law institutions. Mr. Pendergast has put forward further ideas including on how we improve the sanctions policies, which we believe are well worth considering and are very much in line with the work that we have started to ensure that the sanctions instruments become more efficient.
It is also important that UN support to Member States’ anti-corruptions efforts is coherent. Missions, UN Country Teams, and UN entities such as the UNODC must all work together. We also need to continue to support models for international cooperation between practitioners, prosecutors and law enforcement.
Anti-corruption work does not only address the crippling effects of corruption on societies, economies and lives, it is first and foremost about prevention. If we can build effective, accountable and inclusive public institutions and provide access to justice for all, we decrease the risk of a society sliding or relapsing into conflict. For this reason, corruption is and must remain part of the Council’s agenda in the broader context of prevention and sustaining peace.
I thank you very much Madam President.