International Anti-corruption Day

Annually, International Anti-corruption Day is observed on every December 9. This day raises public awareness for anti-corruption. Anti-corruption Day also encourages the public to work on innovative solutions aimed at winning the battle against corruption. Corruption has become one of the most worrisome problems across the world. Corruption is defined as fraudulent or dishonest conduct. Other definitions for corruption define corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Normally, those in power use corruption to achieve their goals. Corruption comes in many different forms; embezzlement, bribery and price-fixing are just a few of the crimes associated with corruption.

According to UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, corruption is an immoral, criminal and the ultimate betrayal of public trust. It is even more damaging in times of crisis – as the world is experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the virus is creating new opportunities to exploit weak oversight and inadequate transparency, diverting funds away from people in their hour of greatest need.

In times of crisis and ongoing global pandemic (like COVID-19), corruption thrives. Countries and States all over the world have taken significant measures to address the health emergency and to avoid a global economic collapse. More than a billion in funds are impatiently mobilized to procure medical equipment and provide an economic safety net for citizens and businesses in distress. The urgent responses required have led some countries and States to trade oversight, compliance and accountability for achievement of rapid impact, thus creating significant opportunities for corruption. According to the United Nations (UN), every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes. These crimes steal about $2.6 trillion on a yearly basis through corruption and contribute to more than 5 percent of the global GDP.

Corruption affects the political, social and economic development of an entire nation. The crime destroys businesses and brings down governments.  Both underdeveloped and developed countries host corruption of various kinds. However, it is much worse in underdeveloped countries. Funds lost to corruption in these countries are ten times the amount of assistance they receive for development because corruption flourishes where democratic foundations are weak.

The most corrupt countries include:

  • Libya
  • Syria
  • Sudan
  • Yemen
  • Afghanistan
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • North Korea
  • Somalia

To ensure and make progress against corruption, officials encourage countries to strengthen the institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power. It is also critical for these institutions to operate without intimidation. Also, the support of a free and independent media helps to curb corruption. The UN encourages citizens, the government and the private sectors around the world to join forces in fighting this crime.


Corruption slows economic development, undermines democratic institutions and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks and tampers with the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted or slowed because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of corruption.

The General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 31st October 2003  and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties (resolution 58/4). 

December 9 was also designated by the Assembly as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in preventing and combating it. 

HOW TO OBSERVE #AntiCorruptionDay

UN has used the theme “United Against Corruption” for the past several years. Citizens around the world need to take action, including holding leaders accountable instead of just knowing about corruption. UN encouraged the youth to fight for a corrupt-free world.

Wondering how to fight for a corrupt-free world? Here are some ways you can participate:

  • Teach the youth about ethical behavior
  • Raise awareness about the costs of corruption for crucial services like education and health.
  • Always report incidents of corruption
  • Refuse to participate in activities that are dishonest and illegal 

Use #AntiCorruptionDay or #UnitedAgainstCorruption on your social media platforms.

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