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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 09 (APP): United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Tuesday called for working collectively to end corruption and bribery, warning that the coronavirus crisis had created additional opportunities for this scourge.

In a message marking International Anti-Corruption Day, which is observed annually on Dec. 9, he said the development of vaccines for the virus and treatments added to the risk of bribery and profiteering.

Governments, the UN chief said, were spending rapidly to get economies back on track, provide emergency support and procure medical supplies, but oversight may be weaker.

“Recovery from the pandemic must include measures to prevent and combat corruption and bribery,” Guterres said.

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“We need broad partnerships to strengthen oversight, accountability and transparency, building on the global anti-corruption tools provided by the United Nations Conventions against Corruption.”

Corruption drains resources from people who need them, undermines trust in institutions, exacerbates the vast inequalities exposed by the virus, and hinders a strong recovery, the UN chief said, adding that stimulus funds and vital emergency resources cannot be allowed to be diverted.

“In recent years, anger and frustration have erupted at corrupt leaders and Governments,” he said. “In some countries, people have taken to the streets with demands for social justice and accountability.

“Action against corruption should be part of broader national and international reforms and initiatives to strengthen good governance, tackle illicit financial flows and tax havens, and return stolen assets, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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“We must take the opportunity for ambitious reforms and initiatives at the first-ever General Assembly special session against corruption next year.

“All of us – Governments, businesses, civil society and all stakeholders – must resolve to work together to promote accountability and end corruption and bribery for a more just and equal world.”