Every effort must be taken to ensure that corrupt and unscrupulous practices do not prevent or impede the equitable availability and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the President of the United Nations General Assembly said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the UN-Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Annual Parliamentary Hearing, Volkan Bozkir underscored that the potential impact of corruption during the coronavirus pandemic “cannot be overstated”.
“Already, corruption has led to scarcity in essential protection, life-saving equipment, adequate assistance and the provision of vital services. Corruption has caused thousands of extra lives to be lost during this pandemic”, he added.
The Assembly President stressed the role of parliaments in ensuring oversight and transparency of the trillions of dollars’ worth of protection announced by governments to tackle the pandemic.
“Parliaments can play a critical role in ensuring these funds are not diverted through corruption. We must ensure that corruption does not deprive the most vulnerable of medical supplies or assistance programmes”, he said.
Mr. Bozkir also spoke of the first-ever General Assembly special session against corruption, to be convened in June.
The special session, he maintained, will provide an opportunity to shape the global anti-corruption agenda for the next decade “by advancing bold and innovative approaches, scaling best practices and developing new standards and mechanisms”.
Motivation to increase gender parity
In his remarks, Mr. Bozkir also welcomed the event’s focus on gender-sensitive anti-corruption policies.
Noting the “particularly adverse impact” that corruption has on the lives of women, further widening the gender equality gap socially, politically and economically, the Assembly President highlighted that their political participation can have a positive impact on preventing corrupt practices.
“The inclusive participation of women in government and decision-making roles is a catalyst to create more prosperous and robust societies”, Mr. Bozkir said.
“In countries with a higher number of women engaged in all levels of government, there is greater attention to and funding for the issues that affect the lives of the citizenry. This is motivation for us all to do what we can to increase gender parity”, he added.
Focus on fighting corruption
Taking place on 17-18 February, the 2021 IPU-UN Annual Parliamentary Hearing focuses on
fighting corruption to restore trust in government and improve development prospects. The Hearing is part of the parliamentary contribution to the political declaration of the General Assembly special session against corruption.
This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Annual Hearing is being held in a virtual format, with delegations attending remotely.