Southern African countries have found their potential and prosperity undercut and held back by corruption, causing significant and wide-ranging impact on people’s daily lives. Corruption remains a significant obstacle to development of the region. It diverts public funds, weakens institutions, undermines public confidence in the government and can ultimately hinder the rule of law and lead to instability and insecurity. It has been internationally recognized that corruption is a facilitator of organized crime.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. The Convention's far-reaching approach and the mandatory character of many of its provisions make it a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to a global problem.
All Countries in the Southern African Region are party to UNCAC and, following its provisions, are undergoing the mandatory peer-review process of compliance with the provisions of the Convention.
The review has been split into two cycles. The first review cycle covers chapters III (criminalization and law enforcement) and IV (international cooperation) of the Convention, while the second review cycle concerns chapters II (preventive measures) and V (asset recovery). Each State party is reviewed by two other States, with at least one of them being from the regional group of the State party under review. The complete list of reviewed countries, with respective report and executive summary, is available here. As the guardian of UNCAC, UNODC has been supporting Governments in the Southern African region to undergo these reviews.
To fast-track the implementation of UNCAC, in line with resolution 9/4, adopted by the Conference of the State parties to UNCAC on “Strengthening the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption at regional levels”, UNODC has established regional platforms. The platforms aim to support Member States in implementing the Convention through the identification of shared regional anti-corruption good practices, challenges and priorities and the development of roadmaps of commitments.
The Southern Africa regional platform was established in 2019. Following an analysis of the recommendations made in the context of the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism, the priority areas for the region have been identified as follows:
a) inter-agency cooperation on investigation and prosecution of anti-corruption cases with a focus on policy development;
b) whistleblower protection and the protection of witnesses;
c) asset disclosure, including asset declaration, detection of illicit enrichment, beneficial ownership, scrutiny of Political Exposed Persons (PEPs); and
d) conflict of interest in the context of public procurement.
UNODC Southern Africa supports countries in the region in their efforts to advance these identified priority areas.
UNODC’s Regional Office for Southern Africa is part of the UNODC Anti-Corruption Hub based in Kenya, which supports anti-corruption technical assistance throughout Africa in a concerted manner. The regional Anti-Corruption Hubs also serve to enhance coordination globally as the Hubs network with one another to promote interregional and South-South cooperation.
To advance anti-corruption agenda in the region, UNODC further closely collaborates with intergovernmental and regional bodies based in the region, such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Center (CAACC).
The outcome of the UNCAC review process as well as the priority areas identified by the Platform provide a solid basis for formulating anti-corruption technical assistance programmes with countries. UNODC provides tailored technical assistance activities to Member States in support of the implementation of the Convention in various corruption-related thematic areas. In addition to the priority areas identified by the Southern Africa Platform, UNODC has been addressing the growing demand for support in the areas such as enhancing the use of technology, open data and digital platforms; anti-corruption education; and corruption related to the environment and health sectors. This technical assistance takes different forms, including legislative assistance, assistance in the development of national policies and strategies, strengthening corruption risk management capacities, and capacity building activities, among others.