Conference of States Parties

The Conference of States Parties (COSP) is the main decision-making body of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).

All states that have ratified the UNCAC are automatically part of the Conference of State Parties. Other states (signatories and non-signatories), intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations can apply for observer status at COSP sessions.

The COSP meets every two years and adopts resolutions and decisions aimed at building states parties’ capacity and cooperation to achieve the convention’s objectives as well as promoting and reviewing its implementation. It operates under Rules of Procedure adopted by the Conference.

  • States parties can participate actively and fully in COSP sessions, including in the adoption of resolutions and decisions, whether by consensus or by vote. States parties can also participate in working groups and expert meetings.
  • Observers can attend plenary sessions of the COSP, deliver statements, submit information in writing and receive the COSP documents. One specific category of observers – signatories – can also attend the “non” plenary sessions of the COSP (e.g. informals) and speak during the deliberative process. Observers cannot participate in the adoption of resolutions or decisions by the COSP.

The Conference of States Parties (COSP) has created subsidiary bodies, operating under its mandate, to help it in its work. To date they have all been “open-ended intergovernmental groups” made up of representatives of all states parties, with no fixed members. They are meant to advise the COSP and provide recommendations to help deliver its mandate. Their reports, using resolution style language, call on states to take certain actions or request UNODC to carry out specific work.

Please see Implementation Review Group (IRG) and Working Group and Expert Meetings.

What can civil society organisations (CSOs) do at COSP sessions?

Civil society action at the 3rd COSP, Doha, November 2009

  • CSOs can attend the COSP sessions:

    CSOs that have consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can apply for observer status and it should be automatically accorded unless otherwise decided by the COSP. CSOs that do not have ECOSOC consultative status may also apply for observer status, but the procedure is a little more complicated.[1]

  • CSOs can make written submissions:

    The submissions – subject to a word limit – become part of the official conference documentation. They are published on the conference website and can be distributed to states parties through formal channels. In previous COSP sessions, CSOs have submitted executive summaries of CSO review reports about country compliance and statements calling for specific action to be taken at the COSP.

  • CSOs can deliver oral statements:

    During the plenary sessions, non-governmental observer representatives that register to speak are called after the list of states parties and intergovernmental organisation speakers has been exhausted.

  • CSOs can organise side events:

    These are meetings, presentations or panel discussions on topics relevant to the work on UNCAC, but outside the formal agenda of the conference. During COSP4 in October 2011, CSOs organised panel discussions on topics including the right of access to information and best practices on asset recovery and anti-money laundering. During COSP5 in November 2013, CSOs organised a panel discussion on the progress of the UNCAC review process, and presented recommendations for improvements.

  • CSOs can meet with their government representatives:

    They can advocate for COSP outcomes as well as discussing the state of anti-corruption efforts at home.

“Scenes from a Global Anti-Corruption Summit”: four video segments

The video series Scenes from a Global Anti Corruption Summit documents civil society participation at the 2nd UNCAC Conference of States Parties held in Indonesia in 2008 and showcases interviews with civil society participants.

What is the UNCAC? What happens at an UNCAC Conference of States Parties? Why is it important for CSOs to be there? What actions does the UNCAC Coalition undertake? Why do anti-corruption activists need protection? The 4 short video segments produced by Transparency International aim to provide some answers.

The videos from Scenes from a Global Anti-Corruption Summit range from 4 to 9 minutes long and consist of:

Part 1 – Speaking of Corruption
Part 2 – UNCAC: A Global Treaty
Part 3 – The Global UNCAC Coalition in Action
Part 4 – Protecting Anti-Corruption Activists

Your feedback would be welcome! Also, help spread the word by linking to or embedding this video series on your web pages and sharing them via online communities.

  1. The list of non-ECOSOC CSOs who apply is distributed to the states parties who can object to the participation of one or several of them, and if there is an objection, the matter will be referred to the COSP for a decision.

Civil Society