The United Nations will help Iraq root out the endemic corruption that has infected the war-torn nation’s economy and institutions, including the training of auditors.
The UN Development Programme is to strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi government to detect and investigate corruption, and prosecute those involved, under the terms of a technical assistance agreement signed between the two yesterday.
Following the signing ceremony, the Iraqi prime minister’s deputy chief of staff, Naoufel Al-Hasan, said the government reached out to the UNDP because ending impunity is “at the centre” of its reform agenda.
The UN agency will recruit international investigators to help mentor and train Iraqi auditors. The lead investigator will take up a role within Iraq’s Integrity Commission and Higher Judicial Council.
Iraq ranks 161st out of 168 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Index.
Deep-rooted corruption in Iraq is one factor that has hampered efforts to rebuild after the US invasion more than a decade ago.
Much of the nation’s infrastructure and public services were left in ruins by the war. Despite being oil-rich and receiving around $60bn from the US alone for reconstruction by 2013, little progress has been made.
Continued violence and the rise of ISIS, which has controlled large parts of the north and west of the country since 2014, laid further waste to the nation.
As the costs of the fight against ISIS and the slump in oil prices put further pressure on an already embattled economy, rampant corruption continues to exacerbate Iraq’s problems.
Lise Grande, UNDP resident representative and humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said: “UNDP stands ready to support the reform process in any way we can.
“Reforms are difficult and sensitive but with Daesh [ISIS] nearly defeated, strengthening governance is a top priority.”