9 January 2020 - During the eighth session of the Conference of the State Parties (CoSP8) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Abu Dhabi, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Civil Society Team, in partnership with the UK Prosperity Fund of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, held a special event on 19 December to showcase the work and testimony of civil society anti-corruption champions through their participation in four UNODC regional platforms to fast-track the implementation of the UNCAC. The platforms cover Latin America, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia.
The panel emphasized the valuable contributions that civil society organisations (CSOs) make in contributing to a meaningful review of the UNCAC through the recently established regional platforms. The Director of the UNODC Division for Treaty Affairs John Brandolino noted that the platforms for regional cooperation are a prime example of stakeholders coming together to devise practical and actionable roadmaps, set priorities and provide support to address challenges and improve international cooperation towards tackling corruption.
Civil society, represented by among others Pusetso Morapedi of the Botswana Center for Public Integrity, observed that the training sessions on fast-tracking the UNCAC cemented relationships needed for collaboration and cooperation between government and civil society. She opined that regional meetings could and should be done regularly to "re-cement broken relations, remind and resuscitate forgotten collaborations in the fight against corruption, because indeed united we can go somewhere in the fight against corruption".
Similarly, Khine Lay from Access to Justice in Myanmar underlined that Civil Society Roundtable discussions organized by UNODC had provided a "great opportunity to strengthen the regional networks of civil society organizations working on anti-corruption in the Southeast Asia region".
Referring to the recent Latin America regional platform meeting held in Cartagena, Colombia, Fabiano Angélico, an independent researcher from CEAPG Brazil, informed about civil society efforts to follow up on the regional recommendations. These pertained mainly to integrity systems, liability of legal entities, whistleblowing protection and international cooperation. He added that, supported by a group of Latin American CSOs, he would assist UNODC to facilitate a CSO follow-up roundtable in early 2020, to further focus on the 25 thematic recommendations and how best to engage with the fast-tracking project in 2020 and beyond.
Meanwhile, Gilbert Sendugwa of the Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Uganda, informed that thanks to support and training from UNODC, 74 members of Kampala City Traders and Uganda Manufacturers Association were trained on the UNCAC framework, access to information, open contracting and Whistle-blower Protection Act. Along with focus group discussions with women and youth and conducting large social media campaigns with CSOs and the private sector, the project had facilitated public awareness of these topics, and successfully advocated the Government to publish procurement data.
UNODC, through the above four regional multi-stakeholder platforms have facilitated the participation and engaged with over 100 CSOs (23 in Latin America; 26 in Southern Africa; 35 in Southeast Asia and 25 in Eastern Africa) from over 40 countries.