This article first appeared in Swissinfo on June 2, 2021.
The presidents of Peru, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia reaffirmed on Wednesday at the UN their commitment against corruption and defended the measures they are taking in their countries to fight it, as well as the need for more international cooperation.
The four leaders were among the ten international leaders who spoke by video on the first day of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly dedicated to the fight against corruption, which is being held from today until Friday.
The meeting, promoted by Peru and Colombia, seeks to give a boost to measures against corruption and other illicit activities and to improve international cooperation in this area.
Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti was the first leader to speak and stressed that preventing and fighting corruption is “a global necessity and an ethical duty.”
“Corruption has acquired a transnational character that affects democratic governance, distorts markets, debases society and diminishes trust in institutions; all of this hinders the sustainable development of all countries and the enjoyment of the human rights of citizens, and especially those of the poorest and most vulnerable“, he said.
Sagasti stressed that the fight against this scourge is a priority for Peru, but also warned that no country can fight corruption alone.
“We are convinced that national initiatives are not enough. Rather, a renewed, concerted, cooperative and action-oriented multilateral response is required“, he said, highlighting the importance of a declaration to that effect adopted today by UN countries, pledging further anti-corruption measures.
The President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, assured that the fight against corruption has been a priority since he took office and outlined numerous measures undertaken by his government.
“Guatemala has enormous challenges in relation to the fight against corruption, but we have all the will to build a transparent, democratic State, based on the rule of law”, he stressed.
Giammattei also stressed the importance of greater international cooperation in this area and took the opportunity to call for greater access to vaccines against covid-19 for developing countries.
Colombian leader, Iván Duque, assured that the fight against corruption is “a moral and ethical imperative” and one of the country’s domestic and foreign priorities.
“Drug trafficking, human and arms trafficking, among other crimes that we fight relentlessly, are at the same time food for corruption and fuel for the deterioration of the human fabric in all societies around the world,” he said.
Duque called on the international community to “redouble our efforts” and to use the declaration adopted today “as a compass that will allow us to navigate during the coming years.”
“Let us take advantage of the opportunity provided by this special session and take decisive action against the scourge that is corruption, which does so much damage worldwide”, he insisted.
For his part, the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, also stressed his commitment against corruption and assured that this fight has even put his life in danger.
“Our government has taken decisions that no one wanted to take before, since it was in the middle of risking his life, proof of this is that at least four attempts of attacks against me have been documented”, said Hernández.
The Honduran president assured that the accusations in the United States that have linked him to drug trafficking are derived precisely from his commitment to combat these crimes and are the result of attempts by criminals to receive favorable treatment in that country.