I am delighted to participate in this year’s International Anti-Corruption Conference. I would like to thank the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission of Korea and Transparency International for hosting this important event.
We meet in unprecedented times. Yet, today’s topic could not be timelier. One of the essential elements of building back better is restoring trust in our institutions and our economies. The COVID-19 crisis is giving us a unique opportunity to rebuild that confidence.
Trust is a necessary pillar of society. We were suffering a trust deficit long before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it worse. The virus has claimed over 1.3 million lives in an increasingly fractured society. Those facing higher social insecurities have lower levels of trust, further hampered by the socio-economic impacts of the crisis. The crisis is also exacerbating the challenges of corruption, as public and private sectors are exposed to integrity risks.
A widening trust deficit weakens the response to the crisis and our broader efforts to promote sustainable and inclusive growth under the 2030 Agenda. Leaders are not alone in the process of “building back better”; they need their citizens.
The OECD Trust Framework shows that high levels of integrity, fairness, openness, responsiveness, and reliability of institutions are strong predictors of people’s trust in government. And when it comes to promoting integrity, the OECD is not standing still.
In May this year, we launched the OECD Public Integrity Handbook, to support policymakers implement the vision enshrined in the OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity. For instance, creating a safe and open organisational culture is critical for tackling public integrity concerns. We also launched a webinar series called, “Building a New Paradigm for Public Trust”.
The OECD is tackling tax crimes and other financial crimes that divert funds away from the public at a time when they are sorely needed. We are enhancing domestic and international tax transparency through tools like the Ten Global Principles for Fighting Tax Crime. These are particularly relevant as countries focus on replenishing their public coffers in the aftermath of the pandemic.
We are also working to promote trust in the private sector through our Trust in Business Initiative – a platform for partnership and joint action between companies, governments and their stakeholders. The platform aims to catalyse good corporate conduct and promote effective implementation of key OECD standards, such as the Anti-Bribery Convention, the MNE Guidelines and the Corporate Governance Principles.
The OECD’s work in the G20 and other global fora is also instrumental in promoting rules-based globalisation. The Saudi G20 Presidency announced that the country would be taking first steps towards adhering to the Anti-Bribery Convention. This is a welcome development; and I encourage other G20 countries to follow suit and contribute to building a fairer, more transparent, multilateral system.
Last but not least, corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion are costing developing countries around USD 1.26 trillion annually. Based on the OECD Recommendation on Managing the Risk of Corruption, we are actively engaged in supporting development co-operation actors to enhance their corruption risk-management systems.
All our anti-corruption efforts are even more relevant today. As governments around the globe continue to work and tackle the pandemic, restoring citizens’ trust is invaluable. It is the only way to rebuild our economies and our societies in an inclusive manner. The only way to emerge stronger and united from this crisis.
Rest assured that the OECD will continue to work with all stakeholders as we champion integrity and anti-corruption efforts, and as we build back better together.