Security Council Briefing: Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Corruption and Conflict

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 10 September 2018

Thank you Madame President. And thank you to the Secretary-General and Mr. Prendergast for their briefings.

The UN Convention Against Corruption stresses that corruption undermines the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice. Given these undermining effects, it is remarkable that this Council has never discussed corruption before. Therefore I commend you, Madame President, for putting this issue on our agenda today.

In my intervention I would like to focus on three aspects:

  • Rule of Law;
  • Accountability;
  • And sustainable development.

1. Rule of Law

Madame President, rule of law forms the basis of stable societies. Of democracy. And of the trust that citizens place in their government. If rule of law is the medicine for stability, then corruption is the virus that breeds conflict.

The UNDP report ‘Journey to Extremism’ tells us how corrupt and ill-performing governments push people into the hands of violent extremists. And Mr Prendergast’s organization has highlighted how actors engaged in illegal economic activities driven by corruption have an interest in perpetuating conflict. At the same time, reliable, corrupt free governments have proven to be a source of resilience.  

Let us therefore step up our efforts to strengthen the rule of law. To build capacity to create strong state institutions that truly serve citizens.

2. Accountability

Madame President, this brings me to my second point, accountability. Because accountable state institutions are strong state institutions.

Accountability requires separation of powers, checks and balances and judicial follow-up. And I’d like to thank Mr. Prendergast for his concrete suggestions in this regard, which are worth looking into. And not only does it require separation of powers, checks and balances and judicial follow-up, it requires transparency.

And for this reason, the Kingdom of the Netherlands supports Transparency International. Its annual Anti-Corruption Index of Transparency International shows that corruption and conflict correlate. It also shows that corruption diminishes when there are structures in place for citizens to hold their government to account.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is worth mentioning as well. The EITI standard requires governments to publish information on their natural resources management, including where related tax money ends up. The EITI gives an informed voice to the people and the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a proud supporter of it since its inception.

Because for us it is clear: Internal oversight mechanisms, as well as external oversight mechanisms by civil society, businesses and independent auditors are key to hold state institutions to account.

3. Sustainable development

Madame President, then, on my third and final point, sustainable development. The Sustaining Peace and 2030 Agendas are our most comprehensive responses to conflict prevention.

Corruption, however, undermines their implementation. It deprives the most marginalized from access to vital services. Corruption diminishes tax returns and fuels grievances and discontent. Corruption raises the cost of sustainable development.

Tackling corruption is vital to achieving the SDGs, in particular Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. Tackling corruption is vital to sustainable development and thus to global security.

Conclusion

Madame President, in conclusion. Today, the Security Council has taken a first and important step to address corruption and its link to conflict. For the Council to take further steps, we call on the Secretary-General to highlight the issue more explicitly in his future reports and briefings.

In his foreword to the UN Convention Against Corruption, late Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote:

“Corruption is found in all countries. Big and small. Rich and poor.”

Let the disruptive consequences of corruption that all our countries face, unite us in our efforts to tackle this evil phenomenon once and for all.

Thank you.

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