Written by Harindrini Corea
16 Dec, 2019 | 12:33 pm
Colombo (News 1st) – The theme of this year’s Anti-Corruption Day, which was observed on Monday, the 9th of December 2019, is “United Against Corruption.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stated: “I urge people everywhere to continue to work on innovative solutions to win the battle against corruption and to ensure that precious resources serve the peoples of the world.” The global campaign #UnitedAgainstCorruption focuses on corruption as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals designed to build a better future for all. The SDGs were published in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
The Sustainable Development Goals
1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-being
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
10. Reducing Inequality
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life on Land
16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals
In particular, Goal 16, ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’, requires countries to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”, through reducing bribery and corruption and developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions.
Corruption and the SDGs
Corruption affects everyone and can lead to injustice, lower levels of prosperity, less employment, environmental disasters and can threaten security. Corruption weakens government institutions, leads to governmental instability and threatens the economy by undermining fair competition and discouraging trade and investment. Corruption in various governmental and private sectors and at various levels could hinder the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals of Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4) and Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9). Corruption could lead to the depletion of national health budgets, reducing the capacity of the Government to provide medicines to citizens, and reducing the access of people to quality health services. Where there is corruption, finances may not be allocated to areas of industry in which infrastructure projects are necessary but rather to sectors where personal enrichment of those in power is made possible. Furthermore, infrastructure may not be built or may be built in a substandard way that may endanger the public.
The application of the Global Corruption Barometer to Sri Lanka
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) launched the 2019 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report for Sri Lanka on the 9th of December 2019. The Global Corruption Barometer is a public opinion survey that reveals how corruption affects individuals on the ground level. The survey in Sri Lanka provided that a quarter of the public found it acceptable to pay a bribe to obtain or expedite certain public services whilst two-thirds of the public found these practices to be unacceptable. The survey also found that 86% of the public had some awareness of the existence of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). However, 72% were unaware of the existence of a mechanism to report incidents of bribery or corruption.
Furthermore, almost half of all respondents (46%) believed that sextortion, a form of corruption which occurs when a public official indicates the willingness to provide a government benefit in exchange for sexual favors, happened either occasionally, often, or frequently and more frequently in an urban rather than a rural setting.
The fight against corruption
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Development Programme in the fact sheet released on corruption and sustainable development in 2019 provides that, “preventing and combating corruption requires a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. This involves all members of society: Governments, the private sector, the media, civil society organizations and the general public.” The Government is responsible for establishing legislative and institutional frameworks to combat corruption and corruption in the public sector should not be thought of as ‘just a way of doing things.’ The private sector must also play a role in tackling corruption by adopting a zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption in every aspect of business. The media also play an important role in providing checks and balances on the prevention of corruption in government and the private sector.
The role played by the general public in being united against corruption
Ordinary citizens in demanding accountability from their leaders play an important role in fighting against corruption. Public indifference or even the involvement of the public in giving and taking bribes or any form of corruption can be addressed by further awareness of the overall harmful effects of corruption to the country and stronger enforcement of the law. People everywhere can refuse to pay or accept a bribe and the mechanisms for reporting corruption must also be strengthened in the fight against corruption. It is only when everyone is #unitedagainstcorruption that corruption can be eradicated.
*Full report of the Global Corruption Barometer Sri Lanka: http://www.tisrilanka.org/works/global-corruption-barometer-2019-sri-lanka/
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