UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that corruption costs at least 2.6 trillion U.S. dollars, or 5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
Tax evasion, money laundering and other illicit flows divert much-needed resources for sustainable development, and according to the World Bank, businesses and individuals pay more than 1 trillion dollars in bribes each year, said the UN chief in a message for the International Anti-Corruption Day, which is observed annually on Dec. 9.
Guterres said that corruption "robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources," and it undermines the rule of law and abets crimes such as the illicit trafficking of people, drugs and arms.
"Corruption begets more corruption and fosters a corrosive culture of impunity," he added.
"The United Nations Convention against Corruption is among our primary tools for advancing the fight," said Guterres, adding that through the Convention's peer review mechanism, a foundation of trust and accountability can be built.
"We can educate and empower citizens, promote transparency and strengthen international cooperation to recover stolen assets," said the UN chief.
To raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it, the UN General Assembly on 2003 designated Dec. 9 as the International Anti-Corruption Day.