Fast-tracking the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Central America

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UNODC’s latest platform serves as a forum for Member States and development partners to create and foster alliances, and design actions to achieve tangible results in advancing the implementation of the UNCAC in the region.

From 25-27 April 2023, representatives from government, civil society and the private sector gathered in Honduras to launch the Regional Platform to Fast-track the Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Central America, bringing together participants from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, as well as international development partners and donors. "The main purpose of the Regional Platform is to unite the Central American regional effort so that the UNCAC can be properly implemented,” said Gabriela Membreño, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Honduras.

Since 2017 UNODC has been supporting the establishment of regional platforms to fast-track the implementation of the UNCAC, ultimately contributing to the advancement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. The regional platform follows a methodology recognized by the Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC, with the adoption of Resolution 9/4 in December 2021. The regional platform approach is catalytic in nature, as it seeks to identify gaps in existing efforts to implement UNCAC, as well as to coordinate and make the work of technical assistance providers more effective. The regional platform also serves to identify and implement feasible and practical reform priorities.

During the opening ceremony, Edmundo Orellana, Secretary of Transparency and the Fight against Corruption of Honduras, emphasized that "the fight against corruption cannot be limited to local efforts," and that "this event will bring us extraordinary opportunities to fight more effectively in this crusade."

Sylvie Bertrand, UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, highlighted that "the commitment that led to the adoption of the Convention 20 years ago is still necessary today to continue advancing efforts to prevent and combat corruption, including in our region. We must ensure that the international commitments we made are translated into national actions that have a real and lasting impact on people's lives and that we fulfil the central promise of the 2030 Agenda of leaving no one behind."

The conference concluded with the adoption of a final document which includes a roadmap for the work to be carried out in the region over the next three years. The roadmap includes commitments of States parties in five thematic areas:

  1. systems of integrity in the public sector;
  2. transparency and integrity in public procurement;
  3. corruption prevention in the private sector;
  4. corruption reporting and whistle-blower and witness protection; and
  5. investigation, prosecution, and international cooperation in corruption cases.

Additionally, it includes cross-cutting themes including a human rights perspective, gender equality, and the use of technology to promote transparency and access to information, and accountability.

This initiative aligns with the UNODC Strategic Vision for Latin America and the Caribbean, which identifies tackling corruption and economic crime as one of four focus areas for the period 2022-2025, prioritizing a regional approach adapted to the local context.

Implemented with the support of the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Central American Regional Platform is the second of its kind in the region, following the launch of the Platform for South America and Mexico. Both platforms are supported through the UNODC Anti-Corruption Hub for Latin America and the Caribbean, created in 2021 to respond to the growing requests from States Parties for guidance, technical support, capacity development, and the need to foster coordination and synergies with regional anti-corruption initiatives and development partners.