20 August 2008The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan has urged everyone in the South Asian nation, from citizens to Government officials to the media, to stand up against corruption, stressing its damaging impacts on peace and development efforts. “Corruption in Afghanistan is endemic, it hurts the poorest people disproportionately, pushes people away from the state and undermines our joint efforts to build peace, stability and progress for Afghanistan’s peoples,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Kai Eide, said today in Kabul.Mr. Eide, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), made his call at the launch of the Asia-Pacific Regional Human Development Report, entitled “Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives.”Produced by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the report states that Governments and citizens across Asia and the Pacific can tackle corruption together by focusing on areas which impact daily life such as health, education, the police and natural resources.Mr. Eide welcomed recent “vital” steps taken by the Afghan Government, including becoming a State Party to the UN Convention against Corruption, adopting new anti-corruption legislation and the establishment of a new anti-corruption body. At the same time, he noted that corruption must also be tackled “from the bottom up” with the people, Afghan civil society and the media having a crucial role in supporting Government efforts.“Together they can act effectively as a watchdog to ensure that public services reach those most in need and that Government officials are held accountable to the people they serve,” he stated. “We must all stand up and say ‘no’ to the corrosive influence of corruption.”The Special Representative pledged the UN’s continued assistance to the Government and people of Afghanistan in working together to remove the scourge of corruption.According to a recent survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan, the average Afghan household pays an estimated $100 in petty bribes every year – this in a nation where around 70 per cent of the population survives on less than $1 per day.