(Source: CD/Vatican News)
The Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called for the prevention of corruption amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Noting that all current discussions occur through the lens of the ongoing health situation, Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk said “we have already begun to notice tangible social, economic and environmental changes in our region due to this crisis”.
The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the OCSE was speaking on Monday during the 2nd preparatory meeting of the 28th Economic and Environmental Forum (EEF).
Innovation, transparency, digitalization
The theme of the Forum is “Promoting security, stability and economic growth in the OSCE area by preventing and combating corruption through innovation, increased transparency and digitalization”. It took place on the virtual Zoom platform due to the pandemic.
In his address, Msgr. Urbańczyk reiterated the need to keep attention focused on good governance, never forgetting that corruption poses a great threat to the OSCE’s shared values and that “it generates instability and reaches into many aspects of the security, economic and human dimensions”.
He said that both from an ethical and an economic point of view, corruption “gives the illusion of quick and easy gains, but, in reality, it hurts everyone, undermining trust, overshadowing transparency and leads to doubting the very reliability of the whole legal and social system”.
Pope Francis on corruption
Quoting Pope Francis, Msgr. Urbańczyk said “corruption degrades the dignity of the individual and shatters all good and beautiful ideals. Society as a whole is called to commit itself concretely to combating the cancer of corruption in its various forms”.
Msgr. Urbańczyk underscored the duty of those in public administration to operate with transparency and honesty, “fostering the relationship of trust between citizens and institutions”, and noted that “the dissolution of this trust is one of the most serious manifestations of a crisis of democracy”.
“The common good constitutes a resource that must be protected for the benefit of all, especially the poorest, and in the face of its irresponsible use the State is called upon to perform an indispensable supervisory function, duly sanctioning unlawful conduct”, he said.
The pandemic, “a real opportunity to seek new and innovative solutions”
The Holy See’s Permanent Representative said that “as we face an unprecedented health crisis, the priority of governments is obviously the protection of health and safety”, exposing potential risks and opportunities for corruption and breaches of anti-corruption standards such as cutting corners in procurement processes.
It is necessary, Urbańczyk concluded, to stay alert in the fight against corrupt practices during the response process to the pandemic: “Despite being a challenge for the international community, the COVID-19 pandemic could also provide a real opportunity to seek new and innovative solutions, also in countering corruption, that are not divisive, politicized or partial, but that truly seek the common good and the integral human development of all”.