Twelve resolutions and two decisions were adopted at the UN Convention against Corruption’s (UNCAC) 10th Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) held in Atlanta, Georgia, from 11-15 December 2023, to advance efforts to strengthen and promote UNCAC implementation on a wide range of anti-corruption issues. Despite the resolutions’ non-binding nature (unlike the Convention itself), they are perceived as setting the minimum standards for current UNCAC implementation, reflecting the global consensus achieved by the 190 parties to the UNCAC.
Civil society has an important role to play in monitoring how governments are implementing the commitments in resolutions and in the follow-up actions that are mandated in resolutions, including technical assistance, awareness raising, identifying good practices and challenges, development of studies and guidance documents, and through active participation in CoSP-fora meetings and sessions that discuss the implementation of resolutions.
However, civil society has no formal role in the development and adoption of CoSP resolutions and is not allowed to observe the negotiations, unlike in other fora. At the same time, civil society organizations (CSOs) carried out advocacy ahead of and during the CoSP to advocate for governments to adopt meaningful resolutions that advance government commitments to tackle major corruption challenges and to promote meaningful civil society engagement in these efforts.
The UNCAC Coalition is disappointed that some States Parties took advantage of the consensus-based nature of negotiations to block progressive anti-corruption and civic space commitments, placing geopolitical interests above upholding the spirit of UNCAC. While States Parties were not always able to reach a consensus on ambitious measures needed to advance the implementation of the Convention, some progress was achieved as States Parties agreed on a number of new collective commitments that went beyond their previous pledges.
The first-ever dedicated CoSP resolutions were adopted on the issues of whistleblower protection, public procurement transparency and integrity, addressing the societal aspects of corruption (focusing on Gender), and tackling the links between corruption and organized criminal groups. These resolutions contain new commitments for States Parties as well as meaningful follow-up mandates for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UNCAC’s subsidiary bodies. In addition, the resolution “Atlanta 2023: promoting integrity, accountability and transparency in the fight against corruption” (the Atlanta declaration) has an important focus and follow-up measure on civil society, highlighting the responsibility of States Parties to respect, protect and support the important role of civil society in combating corruption and urging States Parties to take measures to ensure that the conditions are present for them to make effective contributions to anti-corruption efforts.
However, CoSP10 resolutions did not address other important issues, including ensuring transparency and oversight of political financing (which has never had a dedicated CoSP resolution) and tackling environmental crime and corruption. Despite the global threats posed by climate change, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss, Resolution 10/2, “Strengthening the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption in small island developing States,” was the only CoSP10 resolution with an operative paragraph calling for action to strengthen and effectively implement anti-corruption frameworks to protect the environment and address climate change. CoSP10 resolutions also did not sufficiently address the crucial issue of reparation for victims of corruption.
An important decision adopted by States Parties extends the 2nd cycle of the UNCAC’s Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) to 2026. Unfortunately, there was no agreement on a date to start the next phase of the IRM due to opposition from a few States Parties. However, the decision also lays out that the UNCAC’s Implementation Review Group (IRG) should continue its discussions to assess the IRM’s performance and the scope, thematic sequence, and details of the next phase; submit recommendations to CoSP11 and endeavour to launch the next phase as soon as possible.
Setting a date for the next phase of the IRM by CoSP11 is a priority for civil society. Launching the next phase is urgently needed to evaluate countries’ progress in following through on recommendations from previous country reviews to strengthen UNCAC implementation. Despite this setback, the UNCAC Coalition is encouraged by the United Kingdom’s statement at the plenary on behalf of 60 countries that have committed to take actions to make the IRM more effective by increasing transparency and inclusiveness in their country reviews.
The UNCAC Coalition has prepared a summary and analysis of CoSP10 resolutions that provides the following information:
- The country(s) that introduced the resolution and the list of co-sponsoring countries (UNODC’s upcoming official CoSP10 final report will include the full and final list of all co-sponsors)
- Each resolution summary includes:
- Highlights: aspects of the resolution that advance commitments, including those that go beyond previous ones, pertaining to the UNCAC Coalition’s issues of priority;
- What is missing or could be strengthened in the resolution, and;
- Follow-up actions that should be taken by the States Parties and UNODC and, if relevant, the mandates given to the CoSP subsidiary bodies.
- An additional section of this report includes an analysis of “wins,” “partial wins,” and “what is missing”, comparing the UNCAC Coalition’s main asks related to civil society before the negotiation of the resolutions to what was achieved in the adopted texts.
Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive summary of the adopted resolutions; our analysis focuses primarily on the Coalition’s issues of priority. Moreover, many operative paragraphs (OP’s) in CoSP resolutions include caveats that recognize countries’ limitations and varying legal frameworks. These caveats may not be reflected in this analysis. Please consult the full text of the resolutions here.Fullscreen Mode