Nearly 20 years ago, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted as a solemn statement of intent. Over these two decades, it has been translated into action around the world, as countries come together to review each other and improve their anti-corruption frameworks.
As we take stock of our progress, we see that the Convention has changed the landscape of anti-corruption efforts. Its Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) has improved cooperation, knowledge exchange and the engagement with the private sector and civil society and promoted a range of legal and institutional reforms across countries. There is overwhelming agreement that participation in the Mechanism has helped to create a global community of practitioners tackling corruption.
The Convention and its peer review mechanism are critical tools in the global effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Under SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, three of the targets call for the recovery and return of stolen assets, the substantial reduction of corruption and bribery in all their forms, and the development of effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. The work to prevent corruption and illicit financial flows as well as recover and return stolen assets will boost national efforts to achieve the SDGs.
Building on the momentum that was created in 2021 by the UN General Assembly’s first-ever special session (UNGASS) against corruption, the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP9) to UNCAC, as well as other high-level fora on anti-corruption, CEB focused its efforts, in 2022, on concrete and collaborative actions. These included, among others, building public trust and strengthening public institutions following the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring good governance through the Global Judicial Integrity Network (GJIN), ensuring accountability through strong Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), and improving cross-border cooperation through the Global Operational Network of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities (GlobE) and the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative.
To better respond to anti-corruption priorities and technical assistance needs identified at the regional and country levels, we reorganized the Branch and established a new section focused specifically on field support, which includes field-based advisors and Anti-Corruption Regional Hubs that cut across all thematic areas and country engagements.
Our regional platforms in Southeast Asia, East Africa, Southern Africa, South America and Mexico, the Western Balkans, and West Africa and the Sahel strengthened collaborative efforts to fast-track UNCAC implementation and assisted States parties in ensuring that accountability, transparency and integrity become standard practice.
At CEB headquarters and in the field, we worked in partnership with governments, businesses, and civil society to deliver innovative and locally adapted initiatives against corruption, addressing a range of issues such as education, gender, youth, business integrity and corruption in specific sectors such as health, sports, the environment and climate change.
This Annual Report is a testament to the fact that tackling corruption, in all its myriad forms, requires a whole-of-government and society approach, including governments, anti-corruption practitioners, business, the media, and civil society, including youth and academia. Businesses are instrumental in preventing corruption by creating a company culture that is driven by integrity and ethical values and implementing an effective anti-corruption ethics and compliance programme; non-governmental organizations are crucial in holding their leaders to account; and free and fair media ensure issues are covered with integrity.
When we are – to quote the CEB vision – United Against Corruption, when we work together as a global community and all do our part, only then are we able to make progress towards our shared development goals and ensure a more open, inclusive, and just world.