Systemic corruption is one of the biggest challenges facing Iraq: UN envoy

"I said it many times before, most recently at the UN Security Council in October: corruption is a major cause of Iraqi dysfunctionality."
Top UN envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. (Photo: UNAMI)
Top UN envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. (Photo: UNAMI)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), in a statement on International Anti-Corruption Day underlined that "pervasive and systemic corruption is one of the biggest challenges facing Iraq."

"Its economic cost and negative impact on stability and prosperity are enormous. It undermines progress, deprives citizens of their rights, discourages international investment and robs the State of the resources needed to deliver to its people better schools, hospitals, roads, and countless other public services," she said on Friday.

Read More: UNAMI says Iraqi government needs to address Iraq’s systematic corruption

"I said it many times before, most recently at the UN Security Council in October: corruption is a major cause of Iraqi dysfunctionality, and keeping the system ‘as is’ will eventually backfire."

She also highlighted Iraq’s most recent high-profile corruption case, the so-called “theft of the century”.

"(This) .. will unfortunately not be the last, and we can only hope that it serves as a wakeup call. There is no denying it, systemic change will prove vital for the country’s future."

Read More: Corruption hinders Iraq’s progress, says UN envoy

"This change, however, will not happen overnight. It will require intense work and perseverance, collective efforts, and the understanding that the time to act clean is now," she concluded.

Iraqi PM's Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s pledged after assuming office  to fight corruption. 

Read More: Blinken congratulates Sudani; welcomes his call for reform and pledge to fight corruption

Shortly after Sudani took office, it was revealed that a sum of $2.5 billion had been stolen over the previous year from Iraq’s tax authority. In October, Iraqi security forces arrested a businessman suspected of being a culprit in the unprecedented financial theft

Indeed, Iraq has a serious issue of corruption. In 2021, Transparency International ranked Iraq as among the most corrupt countries in the world: 157 out of 180.

"While the government has taken a number of encouraging steps, it is no secret that these efforts may be obstructed or undermined by those who stand to lose. But let me emphasize, they should be given no respite," Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert added.

"In this spirit and for the sake of future generations, let us all work together, in Iraq and elsewhere, whether as individual citizens or those holding public office, to fight for accountability, transparency and the rule of law," she concluded.