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Working together to more effectively fight corruption across Asia



Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 28 February 2014
- Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that disproportionately harms the poor, stifles economic growth and diverts desperately needed funds from education, healthcare and other public services.

Increasingly, civil society organizations (CSOs) - also known as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - help fight corruption by working together with national governments and the private sector to identify concrete ways to combat corruption jointly and more effectively.

Under UNODC's new Regional Programme 2014-2017 for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, anti-corruption efforts in the region focus on supporting countries to meet the requirements of UNCAC by providing technical assistance and facilitating regional exchanges to translate the provisions of the Convention into effective legal frameworks, policies and practices and to build national bodies of highly skilled anti-corruption practitioners that will allow States to be well-equipped to prevent and combat corruption.

The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. UNCAC Article 13 states that civil society should play an active role in combating corruption.

"To date, over 175 CSOs from across the world have been trained under the UNODC Civil Society Programme and equipped with the necessary tools to work constructively with governments and the private sector on UNCAC implementation," said Mr. Shervin Majlessi, UNODC Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor.

"In support of its Anti-corruption Sub-Programme, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Southeast Asia, the UNODC Civil Society Team and the UNCAC Coalition hosted a workshop on UNCAC and its review mechanism 24-27 February." Administration and substantive support for this workshop was provided by ROSEAP, UNODC Headquarters, and colleagues from the Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA).

Building on recommendations from an independent evaluation of previous activities, this workshop brought together for the first time some 60 civil society organisation members, government officials and anti-corruption practitioners from 14 countries across Asia including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that disproportionately harms the poor, stifles economic growth and diverts desperately needed funds from education, healthcare and other public services. Participants discussed and shared their collective anti-corruption experiences and expertise. Discussions and practical exercises focussed on the methodology of country reviews under the UNCAC, including tools and steps to participate constructively in the UNCAC review process, and how to approach the media and the private sector to contribute to implementation of UNCAC at local, national, regional and global levels.

The feedback from different stakeholder groups was positive.

"This workshop helped stakeholders from across Asia to prepare and start the UNCAC review process," said Ms. Ratnaningsih Dasa Hastarini, Transparency International Indonesia. "It helped participants follow-up from UNCAC review results and provided recommendations. Moreover, by bringing together different perspectives it will allow us to establish better future cooperation."

"The workshop was complete in all aspects. It gave an insight into the working of UNCAC and clearly explained all the chapters and articles along with the role of country (government focal points) and civil society," noted Ms. Anuradha Singhai from the Indo-European Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

"This KL workshop proves that a multi-stakeholder approach to UNCAC and its review mechanism is the right way," said Mr. Vincent Lazatin, of the UNCAC Coalition. "The interactions witnessed between members of civil society with their respective government counterparts was very encouraging. Future multi-stakeholder workshops will reinforce the notion that constructive dialogue is the default mode of engagement for UNCAC."

Click here to read more on UNODC's Regional Programme on Anti-Corruption.