Vienna (Austria), 9 December 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple weaknesses in the global fight against corruption. As Member States take emergency measures against the pandemic, they may have relaxed their safeguards – by trading compliance, oversight, and accountability for fast response and rapid impact.
The ongoing situation has emphasized the need for capacity building initiatives, so Member States can align their national frameworks to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and welcome non-state actors into the fold. When governments engage all sectors of society in the fight against corruption, the chances of success are much greater.
From 24 to 25 November, the first ever Multi-Stakeholder Workshop on the United Nations Convention against Corruption and Its Review Mechanism was held in Central Asia. The hybrid event had nearly half of the more than 100 participants joining in-person, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It welcomed representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector and public institutions from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The two-day workshop enhanced participants’ knowledge of the Convention and its Review Mechanism, including entry points for CSOs. It further provided a platform for holding constructive discussions and exchanging best practices.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative in Central Asia, stressed the importance of having the necessary legal systems in place that can, with the help of civil society, support those who are most in need. “There can be no sustainable development without the rule of law and there can be no rule of law without human rights,” she reminded participants.
Mr. Alkis Vryenios Drakinos, Associate Director and Head of the Office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Uzbekistan, further highlighted the important role of the non-state actors. “We believe that civil society and businesses alike can support governments’ efforts to curb corruption and ensure a levelled playing field,” he said.
This multi-stakeholder workshop came at an opportune moment for Uzbekistan. With the active engagement of its newly established Anti-Corruption Agency, the nation is working to implement anti-corruption policies, identify strategic priorities and assess the impact of their efforts. Umida Tukhtasheva, Deputy Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency, underscored that, “one of the methods to fight corruption is public monitoring, and the active participation of civil society is crucial.”
The event kick started a new one-year UNODC-EBRD project entitled “Enhancing the capacity of civil society on good governance in Central Asia”. The project will support Uzbekistan and other countries in the region in their anti-corruption programming, while prioritizing the involvement of both civil society and the private sector.