For information only – not an official document

11 December 2023

Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly:

Remarks at the Opening of the Tenth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)

11 December 2023, Atlanta, United States

Mr. President,

Honourable Ministers and Dignitaries,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to address you today at the opening of the tenth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.

I want to thank the government of the United States of America for hosting this session, and to congratulate Mr. Richard Nephew on assuming the Presidency of the Conference, and I would like to commend the outgoing President, Minister Amr Adel Hosni of Egypt, for his successful tenure.


As we mark twenty years of UNCAC this year, we celebrate the Convention and its achievements, while reminding ourselves that we still have a long way to go.

Thirty years ago, there was no global legal framework or cooperation platform for anti-corruption.

Few countries had dedicated anti-corruption bodies, and in some European countries, bribes were tax-deductible.

Today, the UNCAC boasts 190 Parties, almost as many as the Member States of the United Nations itself.

The Convention has become a universal standard and tool that has been the basis for transformative legal and institutional reforms in many countries, as well as international cooperation, supported by UNODC.

The launch of the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism in 2010 accelerated the implementation of the Convention.

Since its launch, almost 1,500 good practices have been identified, alongside more than 9,000 challenges and more than 4,300 technical assistance needs.

Our data shows that 90 per cent of States took legislative measures after completing their country reviews, with the direct support of UNODC and other development partners.

And in the last five years alone, UNODC has supported the development and revision of over 140 anti-corruption laws and policies in more than 60 countries, to ensure their alignment with UNCAC.

We have also taken notable strides in asset recovery.

More than 4.3 billion dollars in corruption proceeds have been returned to the countries they were stolen from since 2010.

Now, as we celebrate how far we have come, we must also accept that despite commendable efforts, there is still much work to be done.

We must recognize the immense impact of corruption today, and the need for urgent action.

Mr. President,

Anti-corruption is an integral part of the world’s race to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, a race in which we are fast falling behind.

It is at the heart of SDG16, of efforts to strengthen rule of law, achieve justice, and improve public trust. And it is directly relevant to all SDGs.

Last week, I was at COP28 in Dubai, where we talked about corruption’s corrosive impact on sustainability and the environment, on life on land and underwater.

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us how corruption hinders and drains the health sector.

And every day, we see how corruption impairs access to education, to sanitation, to decent work and economic growth for all.

How it erects unfair barriers and bleeds economies.

How it kills competition and tilts the playing field in the private sector.

Corruption also deepens the rifts of inequality, depriving vulnerable and marginalized people of opportunities and services, and robbing future generations of rights and possibilities.

The impact is starker on women, who account for a bigger percentage of the world’s poor, exploited, and deprived, yet are less represented among the world’s leaders and decision-makers.

The evidence shows that corruption entrenches gender inequality, while empowering women can break cycles of collusion and bolster integrity.

Meanwhile, illicit financial flows continue to stream across the global divide of rich and poor, of developed and developing, pulling them farther apart in the process.

Corrupt practices undermine the foundations for peace, stability and the rule of law.

When corruption reigns, governance fails and violence spreads.

Organized crime relies on corruption to infiltrate supply chains, bypass regulations, and launder its proceeds.

Terrorist groups exploit financial loopholes to access funds.

And as technology rushes forward, criminals find new gaps to exploit, while countries struggle to keep up.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have opened a pandora’s box of untraceable interactions, while advances in artificial intelligence threaten to redefine what is possible in terms of fraud.

Distinguished Participants,

The broad and devastating impact of corruption requires a comprehensive, multilateral response.

I am pleased to note that a wide range of critical topics will be taken up this week.

We have 13 draft resolutions tabled before the session, ranging from public procurement to whistle-blower protection to gender inequality to beneficial ownership and so much more.

And of course, the Atlanta Declaration, tabled by our hosts, which focuses on accountability as a foundational element of the UNCAC.

The range of voices that are here at the CoSP is just as diverse.

The fight against corruption is everyone’s fight.

Anti-Corruption Bodies lead the way, alongside Supreme Audit Institutions and other key government institutions.

But governments cannot succeed alone against corruption.

The private sector has vital responsibilities and can be a force for integrity, just as it can be a corruptive force.

Academia provides essential insights.

Journalists and whistle-blowers bring light into the hidden corners where corruption festers.

Civil society speaks up for transparency and accountability, and I am very pleased to note that more than 900 CSOs are registered to participate at this session. A record number.

And last but not least, young people represent the voice of conscience and optimism that we need to stamp out corruption.

To every young person looking to make a difference, our message is clear: your contribution is needed, and your stand for integrity is a duty.

Through platforms like UNODC’s YouthLED Integrity Advisory Board, you can stand with us against corruption.


UNODC is striving to unite the world around the UNCAC and against corruption.

Since the last session of the Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, we have stepped up our efforts to support international cooperation.

The Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities, or GlobE network, was launched in 2021, and has evolved into a trusted space for authorities worldwide to cooperate on corruption cases and asset recovery.

Today it covers over 100 countries and counts 183 authorities as members.

Our Office is also bringing technical assistance closer to the needs of Member States on the ground.

We have established five anti-corruption hubs that serve as a repository of good practices and peer-learning, covering three regions and two subregions.

And we have set up nine anti-corruption platforms, connecting practitioners across 68 jurisdictions.

Overall, since the ninth session, UNODC has provided training to more than 3,700 anti-corruption practitioners.

And we have assisted a number of countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to conduct national anti-corruption surveys.

Our Office has also embarked on a number of new initiatives.

We have developed a statistical framework for measuring corruption, which will be presented at this session.

We launched the Abu Dhabi Declaration Programme, to promote the role of supreme audit institutions.

And we developed the GRACE Initiative, focused on anti-corruption education, to make sure that our children learn about integrity and the rule of law.

We have also launched a number of important publications and guidance tools on topics such as corruption in sports, business integrity, the gender dimensions of corruption, and more.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UNCAC has been a monumental achievement as a global anti-corruption framework.

But today, it can be more than that.

Today, it can be an instrument of resilience and development, an asset in the face of crisis, and a promise fulfilled to earn people’s trust.

The progress we have made over the last two decades has built a strong foundation for the fight against corruption.

Yet corruption remains a fact of life and a powerful force in our world.

The UNCAC will have more decisive impact when we see the political will to root out corruption, in all its forms.

When impunity is ended, regardless of context.

When the institutions of justice are effective and transparent.

And when we have established a culture of integrity and accountability, through a whole-of-society approach.

Let us reach out across borders and sectors, across generations and institutions, to speak out with one voice, united against corruption.

Thank you.

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