Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Statement delivered at Evaluation of UNDP’s Contribution to Anti-corruption and Addressing the Drivers of Corruption

Jan 31, 2017

Excellency Ambassador Petersen, President of the Executive Board
Distinguished Members of the Executive Board,
Dear UNDP and UN Colleagues,

I am delighted to present the Management Response to the evaluation of UNDP’s contribution to anti-corruption and addressing the drivers of corruption.

On behalf of UNDP’s senior management, I would like to thank the Independent Evaluation Office, Director Naidoo and the lead evaluator for conducting a thorough exercise of reviewing our performance in an area of critical importance to good governance and cohesive societies.

Coming at a time the organization is positioning to support the 2030 Agenda, this evaluation presents UNDP with an opportunity to review and reflect on its approaches to support counterparts and partners in promoting accountability-based public governance. We are convinced that many findings and lessons that this evaluation provides will contribute to the design and formulation of more effective anti-corruption solutions for the best use of domestic resources and institutions in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

From a governance and anti-corruption perspective, the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ is a real breakthrough with distinct and strong commitments to accountability and rule of law.  Goal 16 now includes anti-corruption targets (4 and 5) with a recognition that achieving peaceful, safe and inclusive societies will not be possible without tackling corruption in all its forms. Integrity is important for the credibility and the effective engagement of all actors in delivering on the sustainable development promise including in areas critical to human development such as health, education, water and infrastructure.

UNDP has been strongly engaged in promoting accountable governance for more than two decades. Since 1998 when we published UNDP’s corporate policy paper titled ‘Fighting Corruption to Improve Governance’, which highlighted corruption as a major development issue, addressing drivers of corruption has been an important cross-cutting programming area in UNDP.  

The current UNDP Strategic Plan (2014-2017) has a dedicated Output [#2.2], which aims at awareness, prevention and enforcement of anti-corruption measures across sectors and stakeholders. In our result reporting system, there are currently 159 country projects linked to that output. Many more projects that relate to anti-corruption are however linked to broader governance areas.

The Mid-Term Review of our Strategic Plan showed that anti-corruption is a robust programming area in UNDP.  The 2015 expenditure for Output 2.2 was USD 40 million, a 19% increase from 2014. UNDP’s expenditure funded by programme governments increased by 94% in 2015, indicating a growing interest in UNDP’s work in anti-corruption. Countries in Africa accounted for nearly half of the expenditures.

Overall, programming on anti-corruption during the last eight years has included building national anti-corruption capacities, strengthening relevant policies and institutions, promoting citizen participation and advocacy, and supporting corruption risk assessments in selected sectors.  For example, in Kosovo (Security Council Resolution 1244), UNDP developed an online platform to report corruption, which enhanced citizen participation and led to about 5,000 reported cases.

In Namibia, UNDP helped strengthen the institutional capacity of the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate, prevent and educate the public on corruption by helping the Commission to develop and roll out a National Anti-Corruption Strategy.

With UNDP’s support, Swaziland submitted the first State Report on the UN Convention on Anti-Corruption, and further improved their national capacities for the preparation of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. The Anti-Corruption Commission capacities were also strengthened, resulting in an increased number of corruption cases submitted to the High Court for prosecution (from 4 in 2011 to 45 in 2015).

UNDP’s capacity building support to Gabon has resulted in anti-corruption being incorporated into school curriculums, and investigation skills provided to 29 journalists in Guinea led to the release of 27 written, audio and video materials on corruption in the health sector.

In Turkey, a project was initiated to engage women grassroots movement in transparency and accountability initiatives at the local level, after several initiatives and consultations in the region highlighted the gendered impact of corruption in services predominantly accessed by women at the local level.

A survey on gender equality related corruption risks and vulnerabilities in civil service was carried out in Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova and Kosovo (as per Security Council Resolution 1244). The study evaluated the impacts of corruption and anti-corruption on women’s career in the public service, to assess the level of transparency, integrity, accountability and gender-based discrimination of the human resources system of public institutions, and un-pack the potential impacts of corrupt practices on women’s careers.

With the support of the Regional Project on Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries, Jordan became one of the first countries in the region to expand its anti-corruption work beyond general policy issues and establish concrete linkages with specific vulnerable sectors such as procurement of pharmaceuticals and health-related supplies and equipment.  

One final example comes from Papua New Guinea where the “Phones against Corruption” initiative, in partnership with Mobimedia Telecom Australia, led to 1,500 citizens reporting incidents of corruption. These incidents are now being investigated by the Internal Audit and Compliance Division in the country.

We welcome the acknowledgement that UNDP considers anti-corruption to be key to accelerating sustainable development outcomes, and that the contributions we have made to global anti-corruption efforts have been significant and distinct. Over the period 2008 to 2015, UNDP’s expenditure was $1.48 billion for addressing drivers of corruption and $372 million for specific anti-corruption programmes for the same period. The evaluation report finds, based on the over 500 projects it covered during those years, that UNDP programmes were overall relevant.  

We take note with satisfaction that the evaluation confirmed that UNDP is a key actor in providing democratic governance assistance and building national capacities for anti-corruption, particularly in complex and fragile environments.

We appreciate that the evaluation also found UNDP to: play an important role in assisting developing countries to strengthen public policies and institutional systems; proactively engage in debates, advocacy, knowledge management and partnerships on anti-corruption at global and regional levels; align its projects with national priorities; make strong contributions to local-level transparency and accountability measures; and complement the normative role of UNODC with regards to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Another important finding reads as follows: “Anti-corruption gains will remain limited if they are not combined with a wider set of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of governance institutions and processes overall.”  We know that a number of governance variables affect levels of corruption and that a weak governance and institutional environment hinders the progress on fighting corruption.

Addressing the drivers of corruption (by fostering effective democratic governance) should be part of the strategy to prevent corruption. That is why we suggest that anti-corruption continue to be an integral part of our governance programming, linking integrity in public institutions, with policies and capacities for more effective governance, rule of law and citizen security. Other anti-corruption efforts that were found to have been successful relate to enabling of policies and laws linked to access to information, and local level monitoring. It is however important to keep in mind that anti-corruption work is very context specific and requires national ownership in order to be successful.

UNDP is committed to addressing all 7 recommendations of the evaluation by strengthening our anti-corruption programming to implement the current and the new Strategic Plan.

We agree with the recommendation to prioritize support to addressing corruption risks to development and develop an anti-corruption strategy, and will enact it. In fact, UNDP is already using an integrated approach on anti-corruption in the service delivery sector, the Global Fund, the UN-REDDD programme and local governance programmes.

We will specifically:

  • Ensure that addressing corruption risks to development is prioritized in the development of the next Strategic Plan.
  • Make sure anti-corruption is a part of the Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support package developed by the UNDG to support the Sustainable Development Goals agenda at country level.

UNDP management concurs with the 2nd recommendation to ensure that UNDP’s global anti-corruption initiative continues coordinating all regional hubs to provide policy and programme support to Country Offices and help implement regional anti-corruption programmes. UNDP will engage at three levels:

  • In collaboration with regional bureaus and hubs, prepare analysis of regional variations in anti-corruption support in a development context, and recommendations to address those variations;
  • Provide capacity-building and advisory support to Country Offices in regions that are underrepresented in the area of anti-corruption support;
  • Make efforts to mobilize resources from development partners to secure additional policy and programme support for the regions where there is high demand for anti-corruption programming but limited funding.

UNDP agrees with the 3rd recommendation to prioritize support to anti-corruption and governance risk assessment and measurement, and will initiate two actions. First, within the context of UNDP work on the Sustainable Development Goal indicators (particularly goal 16), UNDP, together with partners such as UNODC, will review and update UN/UNDP tools and instruments supporting anti-corruption and governance diagnostics and measurement. UNDP will also provide capacity-building and advisory support to Country Offices in relation to anti-corruption and governance integrity diagnostics and measurement on a demand basis.

UNDP management fully agrees with the 4th recommendation. As noted by the evaluation, UNDP’s contribution on addressing the divers’ of corruption has been relatively successful at the local level. In developing with other partners a “Toolkit for Localizing the SDGs”, we will make sure that the anti-corruption targets receive the needed attention.   UNDP will continue providing capacity-building and advisory support on how country-level projects could enhance their engagement in social accountability, including monitoring and oversight related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNDP will continue its capacity-building support to national and local-level youth and women’s groups, Civil Society Organizations and community organizations on how they could work together with government authorities to monitor services, budgets and infrastructures. Moreover, UNDP will strengthen its engagement in knowledge, advocacy and partnerships to integrate anti-corruption in the local development and urban governance agendas, including through work on open data, open budgeting and open contracting as part of the ‘smart cities’ initiative.

We concur with the 5th recommendation, and will integrate global and regional anti-corruption targets in the results and resources frameworks of UNDP’s new Strategic Plan, global and regional programmes.

Recommendation number 6 is very pertinent, while noting the challenges resulting from the high degree of dependence on a reduced number of donors to its global anti-corruption programme. UNDP will develop a resource mobilization and partnership initiative, emphasizing the importance of anti-corruption and addressing the drivers of corruption in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP will also showcase innovative responses to corruption, including tools for openness, use of open data and technologies that are of particular interest to some donors and partners.

We also acknowledge a last recommendation, and will ensure that designated capacities for anti-corruption programming are in place in country offices, regional service centers and headquarters to advise and support other practices to design, monitor, implement and evaluate anti-corruption programmes. In fact, UNDP has already taken action in the 2017 budget planning to secure funding for the P4 anti-corruption positions located in the Regional Hubs in Istanbul and Addis Ababa.

Moving forward, and in conclusion, anti-corruption and addressing the drivers of corruption will remain a robust area of work, particularly in the context of UNDP’s new Strategic Plan and in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We will continue building on the findings and recommendations of this evaluation to further improve our programming through a more strategic use of resources that we hope we will be able to mobilize with your support.

I thank you for your attention.