Tackling corruption risk to improve human rights

October 02, 2019 by Mark Dunn

2018 marks the anniversary of a multitude of different political as well as social turning points in human history. While the festivities commemorating the end of World War I were widely broadcasted and spoken about, two anniversaries often fall short of the public's attention: The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, leading to the International Anti-Corruption Day on the 9th of December.

Corruption, a risk to the SDGs

Corruption presents a serious and often underestimated threat in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a list of 17 goals introduced to tackle current challenges and transform our world. Established in 2015 under the leadership of former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the SDGs aim at providing a united blueprint for action in order to achieve both peace and prosperity within the global community. Recent studies have frequently argued in favor of the vital and important role anti-corruption measures can occupy when it comes to the implementation of the SDG’s.

The true costs of corruption

The economic, political and social complexity of corruption affects both developed and developing countries and sabotages global efforts of democratisation, decreases economic growth and fuels political and social instability by interfering in electoral campaigns, inciting distrust towards governmental and economic institutions and demoraliaes the rule of law.

Organisations such as the United Nations Human Rights Council have intensified their attention towards the impact of corruption on the global implementation of human rights. The increasing examination of the complex interplay between human rights abuse and corruption led to the conclusion that disadvantaged groups are disproportionately suffering from corruption because of their greater reliance on public services and goods. Estimates by the World Economic Forum suggest that up to 5 percent of the global gross domestic product or up to $2.7 trillion are lost annually due to global corruption. The loss of important financial means, often further hampers the success of the Sustainable Development Goals for years to come.

Building awareness

Most of the countries are making little to no progress in combating corruption according to the latest Corruption Perception Index, published by Transparency International.
The report rated 180 countries on their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. While the corruption threatens all 17 SDGs, its dangerous effect becomes particularly clear when speaking about specific goals:
* Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
* Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
* Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
* Goal 16: Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
The 15th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the accompanying International Anti-Corruption Day on the 9th of December is an ideal opportunity to enable stakeholders on all levels to join forces to combat that corruption that prevents much needed funds and support from going toward education, infrastructure and work opportunities that can lift all people.


The case for human rights

The Human Rights day, annually celebrated shortly after the International Anti-Corruption Day, on the 10th of December reflects the adaption of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This milestone document empowers all of humankind by proclaiming the inalienable rights to which every human being is inherently entitled, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. While it is yet to be fully realized, it acts as a foundation of a more just world building the framework of a equal society.

What’s next?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution or measure to counteract corruption. Numerous societies have had significant breakthroughs when it comes to combating and opposing corruption. Here are four ways how governments, civil society, and business can help address the problem and get active:
● Promote transparency on both governmental and corporate level
● Strengthen democratic institutions, checks and balances and the rule of law
● Support a strong legal framework and an independent and effective court system
● Empower citizens to hold their governments accountable

Want to explore further?

1. Read our eBook on the Ethical Expectations to see what other factors are influencing the push for corporate responsibility and engagement with SDGs

2. Explore LexisNexis tools for mitigating corruption risk with enhanced due diligence and ongoing risk monitoring.

3. Share this blog post with your colleagues and connections on LinkedIn.