This article is courtesy of the UNCAC Coalition - Association for the Implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption. TINZ has just joined this Coalition.
Between June 2-4, 2021, the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) focused on corruption, will take place in New York. The UNGASS provides an opportunity to shape the global anti-corruption agenda for the next decade by advancing bold and innovative approaches, scaling best practices and developing new standards and mechanisms.
For the UNGASS to have a substantive impact on strengthening efforts to prevent, detect and prosecute corruption, and on mitigating its consequences, ambitious actions and commitments from Member States are needed. At this point in the preparation process, it is not apparent that Member States will indeed agree on commitments resulting in substantive progress in global anti-corruption efforts.
Drawing on input and contributions from many of our member organizations and their expertise, the UNCAC Coalition has produced a comprehensive report, its second written submission to the UNGASS. It outlines challenges and shortcomings in policy areas key to fighting corruption, provides examples of good practice approaches from Member States, and outlines the necessary commitments to advance transparency, integrity and accountability.
Key asks for commitment to
In order to ensure that substantive progress is made in tackling corruption, the UNCAC Coalition is advocating for the following ‘key asks’ that Member States should commit to:
- Adopting and implementing strong access to information laws that comply with international standards, recognising a fundamental right of access to information held by State bodies, and establishing independent oversight bodies to supervise the implementation of this law and to promote effective access to information;
- establishing central online public registers of the direct owners and beneficial owners of companies, foundations, trusts and all other legal entities, with timely and accurate information; and to making this information freely accessible online for law enforcement, to competent authorities as well as the public in open formats;
- requiring civil servants and public officials in decision-making positions to comprehensively disclose their assets and other relevant interests at least annually; to mandating the publication of these declarations in easily accessible formats online; and to establishing and enforcing effective sanctions in cases of non-compliance;
- creating and maintaining a safe and enabling environment for civil society, ensuring the safety of anti-corruption activists, witnesses, whistleblowers, journalists and others who uncover and report on corruption; to actively facilitating the participation of civil society and other stakeholders in national, regional and international anti-corruption efforts;
- recognizing that corruption is not a victimless crime; to establishing legal frameworks to enable and facilitate the compensation of both individual and collective victims of corruption (communities); to increasing efforts to repair damage caused by corruption by providing victims with material and/or symbolic reparations; and to granting independent non-governmental organisations legal standing before all courts to represent individual and collective victims of corruption;
- advancing the recovery and return of assets, ensuring transparency and accountability at all stages of the process with the close involvement of civil society and in a manner that contributes to fulfilling the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and to considering a new multilateral agreement and/or mechanism to overcome asset recovery roadblocks;
- acknowledging gendered forms of corruption, producing gender-disaggregated data on corruption offences, ensuring the criminalisation of sextortion, and creating safe and gender-sensitive corruption reporting mechanisms for women and other vulnerable persons;
- making the UNCAC implementation review process more transparent, inclusive and effective, including by committing to involve non-governmental stakeholders in the review process, publishing key documents of the review and information on the process, and by agreeing on a mandatory follow-up mechanism that reviews progress made on implementing recommendations from previous review cycles; and
- launching an inclusive mechanism for Member States, international organisations, experts, civil society representatives and other stakeholders to discuss gaps in the existing anti-corruption framework and shortcomings in implementation, as well as to develop ideas and possible approaches and mechanisms to address those shortcomings.