NGOs Seek More Transparency At UN Anticorruption Body

24 November 2015

Nongovernmental organizations have mounted a renewed campaign to achieve a more transparent and inclusive process in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Review Mechanism.

The UNCA Civil Society Coalition is asking countries to subscribe to specific commitments on transparency and participation in an UNCAC Review Transparency Pledge.

At a UNCAC meeting in St. Petersburg Nov. 2-6 several states (Belgium, France, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States) announced their support of the pledge. The EU endorsed a similar statement.

A Sept. 22 background document prepared for the meeting by the Finnish government summarizes transparency and participation problems, the complex history of the issue and arguments on all sides.

Particularly contentious and still unresolved has been NGO access to meeting of the Implementation Review Group that examines national implementation of the convention. See an interview with a top US official on why efforts to open the meetings have so far failed. “Briefings” for NGOs about the outcomes of the review process are held but civil society representatives are excluded from meetings of the review group and subsidiary bodies. The UNCAC review 2nd cycle will be starting up in June 2016 based on a decision at the recent 6th session of the UNCAC Conference of States Parties (CoSP) in St. Petersburg.

The pledge states:

As UNCAC State Parties, we hereby reaffirm the importance of transparency and public consultation in addressing corruption. We believe civil society can play a crucial role to prevent and combat corruption in our country. We believe civil society can contribute to successful implementation of UNCAC provisions, therefore we commit ourselves to follow the six Principles of Transparency during the second cycle of the UNCAC review process.

Six principles

  1. We will publish updated review schedules for our country review
  2. We will share information about the review institution or the coordinator (focal point)
  3. We will announce the completion of the country review indicating where the report can be found
  4. We will promptly post online the self- assessment and the full country report in a UN language, together with the executive summary in local languages
  5. We will organise civil society briefings and public debates about the findings of the report
  6. We will publicly support participation of civil society observers in UNCAC subsidiary bodies.
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In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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