Introductory Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton at the Annual Conference on the Evaluation of the State Corruption Program

26 Feb 2014

Dear Mr Minister,
Mr. Slamkov,
Mr. Limantas,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a real pleasure to represent the United Nations Development Programme here today, and we’re very pleased to be able to support our partners in the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption in organizing this conference – which is by now an annual fixture.

This gathering gives us an opportunity not only to assess the real progress made in the country in the fight against corruption, but also to focus on the challenges that remain.

This event is just one reflection of a long-standing partnership in which UNDP has been honoured to provide assistance not only in policy formulation – for example, in the development of the State Programmes for the Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interests for the 2011-2015 period, which are the subject of our discussions here today – but also in devising and testing hands-on solutions to prevent corruption, especially at the local level.

As you’re all aware, credible and measurable progress in the fight against corruption is a central prerequisite for accession to the European Union. This is the area where prospective members have faced perhaps the greatest difficulties in meeting EU standards, and the benchmarks get tougher and tougher with each round of enlargement.

To help the country meet this challenge, UNDP has been sharing advice and experience from Croatia and other new EU member states, so that the Secretariat for European Affairs and other central institutions can benefit from the lessons learned by other countries, particularly in facing the rule-of-law challenges at the heart of Chapters 23 and 24.

EU accession puts corruption in the spotlight as an area where there is a clear requirement to show progress.

But what makes fighting corruption such a priority for UNDP – indeed for the UN as a whole – is not that this is something we all are forced do, but rather something that we recognize is good to do, and that needs to be done in order to deliver direct benefits, in a very personal way, for millions of individuals.

In looking at the astounding statistics on corruption – for example, the estimate that, on a global scale, one trillion dollars per year are paid in bribes – it is easy to lose track of the human story.

But as our Secretary-General puts it, “The cost of corruption is measured not just in the billions of dollars of squandered or stolen Government resources, but most poignantly in the absence of the hospitals, schools, clean water, roads and bridges that might have been built with that money.”

This is why we put such emphasis on the need for every group in society, and every sector, to be involved in any effort to prevent corruption. Public officials have a huge role to play, but citizens must raise their voices too, whether as individuals or through civil society organizations and the media.

This idea is at the heart of the integrity system for municipalities that UNDP has helped develop with the State Anti-Corruption Commission. The system not only requires transparency and ethical behaviour from municipal officials; it also puts Internet tools and mobile applications to work to encourage input and initiatives from local communities.

Nine municipalities have already enacted this integrity system, and I had the pleasure to visit Tetovo last December to witness the signature by Mayor Teuta Arifi of the newest agreement at the municipal level. Tetovo is the first in a second wave of 15 municipalities that will have agreed to become “integrity champions” this year, and I am pleased we will hear first-hand from the mayors of Tetovo and Gevgelija about their experiences a little later today.

These pioneers have helped to test and perfect the integrity system to make it worthy of institutionalizing as a standard feature of governance, and we are delighted that the State Anti-Corruption Commission is preparing legal amendments that will make introducing this kind of integrity system mandatory at both local and central levels.

We look forward to working with all our partners here to develop more such successful practices, and to support further progress in the fight against corruption.

Thank you for your attention, and I wish you successful deliberations today.