06 March 2015 - Cooperation between African Governments and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in tackling corruption was the focus of a recent workshop held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jointly organized by UNODC and the UNCAC Coalition, a global CSO umbrella group, the meeting brought together some 60 participants from 23 African countries.
At the meeting's opening ceremony, Ali Sulaiman, Ethiopian Anti-corruption Commissioner, welcomed all participants to his country, and recalled a recent African Union's report which found that a whopping US$ 1 trillion had been lost to corrupt practices in Africa over the last 50 years. "Africa cannot afford to lose such staggering amount of money."
The event - hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa - UNECA and supported by the Austrian Development Agency - was the first multi-stakeholder workshop to take place in Africa for CSOs and Governments working towards the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and its review mechanism. The meeting allowed CSOs and Governmental focal points to meet - in some cases for the first time - and discuss how to best tackle corruption in their respective countries.
The workshop also served as a platform to exchange best practices regarding the UNCAC and its review mechanism, as well as to build a good working relationship between civil society and the Government. One of the issues put forward by several CSOs was the need to build strategic alliances among anti-corruption agencies, civil society organizations, international organizations, and the private sector in order to reduce corruption.
The countries represented at the meeting had either completed the UNCAC review process or are currently undergoing it. There were 15 country pairings of Government and civil society representatives, a model which facilitated the dialogue between them. One example of this seen during the workshop was the opportunity for the Government focal point from Côte d'Ivoire's recently created anti-corruption institution, the High Authority Council for Good Governance, to meet and initiate dialogue with the civil society representative from the Ivorian Network of Young Leaders for Integrity (RIJLI).
The UN Convention against Corruption is the only legally binding, universal, anti-corruption instrument, and its Article 13 calls on civil society to play an active role in combating corruption. To date, some 250 civil society organizations from across the world have been trained under the UNODC Civil Society Programme with the aim of providing the necessary tools to to work with Governments and the private sector on implementing the Convention.
UNODC's latest small grants scheme is now open and is designed to assist civil society organizations in their engagement with the private sector in anti-corruption activities. Applications for the current round of small grants are open to African-based CSOs. The deadline is 27 March 2015 and more information is available here or from UNODC's Civil Society team via firstname.lastname@example.org.