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UNODC supports the Regional Conference on Investigative Journalism's Impact on the Fight against Corruption with the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO)

As the guardian of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) assists the State parties in preventing corruption in the private sector, in accordance with Article 12 of the Convention. Furthermore, Article 13 of the UNCAC encourages each Member State to respect, promote, and protect the freedom to seek, receive, publish, and disseminate information concerning corruption.

In this context, since November 2014, UNODC has been supporting the Norbert Zongo Cell for Investigative Journalism in West Africa (CENOZO). CENOZO is a network of over 90 investigative journalists from the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mauritania. During its eight years of existence and implementation of investigative journalism promotion activities, CENOZO has trained over 500 journalists from West Africa and published nearly 250 investigations at national and cross-border levels.

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In the fight against corruption, journalists play a crucial role as they are often the ones to uncover and expose corrupt practices and raise public awareness on such matters. Additionally, journalists have the ability to promote transparency in the management of public affairs, an indispensable element to uphold the rule of law in each country. Free and independent journalism, characterized by high-quality standards, is thus essential for instilling trust between the state and its citizens.

On April 26 and 27, 2023 in Niamey, Niger, CENOZO organized, with the support of UNODC and the High Authority for the Fight against Corruption and Related Offenses (HALCIA), the national authority of Niger,  a regional conference on the impact of investigative journalism on the fight against corruption in West Africa. UNODC's support, as part of its Sahel Programme and its Global Programme against Corruption, was made possible by the generous contribution of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The main objective of the conference was to formulate proposals to strengthen the fight against corruption and create effective collaborations between national anti-corruption authorities and investigative journalists in the region by establishing partnerships with the entities making up the Network of National Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (RINLCAO) and civil society organizations involved in the prevention and fight against this crime.

The participants discussed the collaboration challenges between national authorities and the investigative press, and proposed solutions to overcome and improve such cooperation. Moreover, they emphasized the importance of free and independent journalism in promoting democracy and strengthening the accountability of public officials and the private sector.

The conference, which was finally sanctioned with the adoption of the Niamey Declaration, served as a platform to share experiences and best practices to improve the impact of investigative journalism on governance in West African countries.

Finally, on April 28, the Extraordinary General Assembly of CENOZO elected the new Board of Directors, which will continue its noble mission to promote and develop investigative journalism in West Africa, thereby strengthening transparency, accountability, and democracy in the region.

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