Belgrade (Serbia), 20 September 2021 – People in Southeast Europe see corruption as the biggest problem in their countries after unemployment and poverty, saying it hinders economic and social development as well as their country’s European Union accession process.
To answer the calls for strengthening resilience of societies to corruption, UNODC in partnership with the RAI - Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative organized the first in-person workshop on anti-corruption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opening today, in Belgrade (Serbia), it brings together 28 civil society, private sector and government representatives from the Western Balkans and Moldova, as well as experts from the UNCAC Coalition and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative.
During the workshop, participants will discuss how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can be better involved in the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument that promotes the active participation of civil society in the prevention and fight against corruption.
Experts will also present ways for CSOs to actively participate in in the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM), which assists States parties to effectively implement the Convention. The participants will be able to build capacity to reproduce workshop sessions at the national/regional levels and get more expertise in UNCAC provisions required to undergo and perform reviews as well as to address the observations emanating from the reviews.
Non-governmental actors can be involved in the UNCAC review process if invited by their government. Workshops such this one is instrumental in encouraging this participation by building knowledge on UNCAC and creating a platform where participants can engage in a constructive dialogue on its implementation in their respective jurisdictions, share good practices and lessons learned.
Katarina Nikolic from the Ministry of Justice Serbia was pleased that the workshop is held in Belgrade for the second time. She highlighted the need for cooperation and raising public awareness that builds a culture where laws are upheld. ‘We stand strong against corruption and together we can defeat it’ - stressed Nikolic.
Françoise Jacob, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Serbia, emphasized that when anti-corruption measures implemented and monitored, when these processes involve different stakeholders, and they turn into preventive action, we make progress as a society. ‘I found such workshops as of the most powerful tools to exchange information and come to compromises’ – stressed Jacob.
His excellency Ambassador of Austria to Serbia, Nikolaus Lutterotti addressed the audience: ‘we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but corruption is another pandemic’ - noting the ongoing corrosive effects of corruption to societies. He further added – ‘we need to ensure that corruption does not go unpunished. But we also know Prevention is better than the cure. Training and education are fundamental parts of prevention that’s why the Austrian government, in particular, supports such trainings.’
During the second cycle, 94% of governments have involved CSOs during their country visits, an important step in the review that call on all the States to be still reviewed to uphold their obligations on the implementation of the UNCAC.
The workshop was organized under the UNODC-RAI joint programme “Southeast Europe - Together Against Corruption (SEE-TAC)” (2020-2023), which is funded by the Austrian Development Agency.