22 July 2022 –
In 2022, the UNCAC Coalition carried out the 2021 “Annual Activity Survey” to ask our members and affiliated organizations about their recent activities, priority issues, major challenges and engagement with UNCAC-related activities. The survey also requested feedback on how the Coalition can support members’ advocacy objectives and promote greater engagement with our network. Below is an overview of the main findings from survey responses at the global and regional levels.
Overview of Main Global Findings
The findings of the survey show that the Coalition’s membership is focused on advocating for the adoption of many important anti-corruption policies but shrinking civic space poses a significant challenge in carrying out this work. Below are the main global findings of the survey:
- The following policy issues are priorities across the Coalition’s global network: transparency and accountability, environmental crime and justice, public procurement, private sector and business integrity and judicial and institutional reforms. Strengthening civic space and civil society participation in anti-corruption efforts is a fundamental issue and priority area for both member and affiliated organizations.
- Member and affiliated organizations participated in UNCAC-related activities in several ways. Over half of respondents indicated that they had engaged in some way with UNCAC country reviews, including by providing input to country review reports and/or to external reviewers during country visits. Members also contributed to UN-related events such as the CoSP, UNGASS, and UNODC conferences.
- The UNCAC Coalition network also contributed to the UNCAC review process by producing civil society parallel reports in collaboration with the UNCAC Coalition, which assess UNCAC compliance and propose recommendations to address gaps and weaknesses. Fifteen were developed by member organizations and four were developed by affiliated groups.
- Member and affiliated groups encountered the following obstacles to advancing transparency and anti-corruption measures, which were consistently cited across the regions: limited cooperation with public institutions, shrinking civic space and restrictions on civil society, insufficient funding and capacity, a lack of anti-corruption law enforcement and a vulnerable legal environment for CSOs. Respondents cited several reasons for the challenging legal environment: active persecution from local authorities, no whistleblower protection policies and the unavailability of information and data.
Overview of Regional Findings
The UNCAC Coalition’s Regional Coordinators also analyzed the main trends of their region’s network. The responses shed light on the common interests and challenges they face. However, they also reveal the complexity and diversity of our global network, which are addressed below through a summary of the main findings from each region:
The main policy areas that member organizations and affiliated groups work in the Americas include human rights, the environment, the judicial branch, shrinking civic space, access to information, gender equality, and economic development in the region. Organizations advance transparency and anti-corruption efforts through investigations, sectoral monitoring, as well as lobbying. However, less than half of the Americas membership has been involved in the UNCAC review or follow-up, with only four parallel reports being produced.
Respondents showed concern for the depreciating quality of democratic processes in their countries and how this affected their advocacy. Both members and affiliates of the UNCAC Coalition have witnessed shrinking civic space and fewer opportunities to participate in the formulation and evaluation of anti-corruption laws in their countries. Respondents also cited obstacles in obtaining public information as a key barrier to the research they carry out. The Americas region is also eager to work on transnational issues, such as corruption and climate, organized crime, and private sector corruption.
The most relevant initiatives of the UNCAC Coalition for the region include the Access to Information Campaign, regional meetings and the production of parallel reports. Therefore, the Coalition can further strengthen this engagement by increasing the publicity of parallel reports, providing information about grants and financial support, as well as creating regional working groups. As relevant to their policy areas, the Americas membership would like for there to be a greater prioritization of gender issues and inclusion, beneficial ownership, human rights, access to information, and illicit financial flows to name a few.Fullscreen Mode
Most of the members’ main work areas included money laundering and foreign bribery, the rule of law, human rights, political and public sector integrity, and accountability. The respondents also shared their role in advancing transparency and accountability and the fight against corruption that ranged from formulating legal frameworks to the implementation of laws, and advocacy initiatives for raising awareness. 9 out of 14 member organizations in Asia-Pacific have been involved in some way in their country’s UNCAC review through consultations and/or involvement in the self-assessment checklist.
The survey found a lack of funding and political will, shrinking civic space, bureaucracy, and declining democracy as the major challenges for organizations in the region. As a result, their key priorities for 2022 are to strengthen their national anti-corruption strategies and legal frameworks, improve beneficial ownership transparency and transparency in political financing, asset recovery, business integrity and more. In particular, our Asia-Pacific membership would like to focus on youth and female empowerment and whistleblower protection.
Particularly relevant to this region are the regional meetings, activities of thematic working groups, civil society briefings, the Access to Information Campaign and parallel reports. Respondents recommended that the Coalition should continue keeping them informed and engaged in the UNCAC review and related activities. Finally, respondents recommended that the UNCAC Coalition should continue to facilitate CSO participation in the CoSP and/or relay the concerns of the members and affiliated groups of the region at UN fora.Fullscreen Mode
The main policy areas that member organizations and affiliated groups work on in the region of Europe, alongside anti-corruption, include good governance, government and public sector integrity, citizen participation in anti-corruption and civic education. There is also a large focus on access to information, private sector integrity and anti-money laundering among our European membership. These organizations provide technical expertise and policy advice, empower CSOs and strengthen civic space, and adopt the role of a watchdog, which has improved corruption prevention, transparency and the quality of legislation in the region.
Internal challenges for this region’s membership concern limited and unstable financial resources and staff capacity issues; externally, several organizations note insufficient political will and government support. In terms of priorities for 2022, four main areas of interest were outlined by the membership: transparency of public procurement, public spending and budgets; whistleblowing systems and the protection of whistleblowers; access to information including transparency of corporate beneficial ownership; and reforming the justice sector for more transparent and equal access to justice. European organizations are also interested in addressing growing concerns such as the links between corruption and environmental crimes, and climate change.
Respondents in the European network would welcome even more opportunities to learn from each other through meetings, training and data-sharing and to carry out regional campaigns and regionally-tailored advocacy. The Coalition could better support the membership by conveying funding opportunities and providing institutional support, by sharing findings and best practices and by proposing and encouraging joint projects.Fullscreen Mode
The majority of member organizations and affiliated groups in the MENA region work in the fields of good governance, human rights, democracy promotion and transparency. Some of the ways the MENA membership plans to achieve this is through advocating for free and independent media, business integrity as well as monitoring national elections. Producing reports, studies and organizing programs have been the main ways in which organizations help to advance transparency and combat corruption. Involvement in the UNCAC review process or related activities has been scant, with only one organization from Kuwait engaged in the UNCAC review and another from Palestine that has produced a parallel report. A precarious political climate and national security issues such as in Yemen prevents our membership from successfully participating in national reviews.
Challenges faced by anti-corruption organizations in the MENA region are immense as a result of a lack of funding, shrinking civic space, and most troublesome of all, security risks and fear of prosecution. Three key priority areas were identified: the provision of training workshops to CSOs, women and the youth; access to information advocacy, and monitoring and working with public institutions to adopt and/or amend laws.
Members and affiliated groups in the MENA region largely endorsed the activities launched in the last few years by the Coalition, including periodic regional meetings that address certain thematic issues to share knowledge and experiences through experts and guest speakers. Campaigns such as the Access to Information one also aroused the interest of the members who reaffirmed their willingness to develop joint actions of scale, especially in the MENA region which suffers from a flagrant lack of effectiveness in the fight against corruption. The members of the MENA region expressed their willingness for the UNCAC Coalition to develop the concept of regional meetings and to extend it to an annual face-to-face activity, gathering members and experts, including from other regions, to develop mutual skills and capacities. The topics of grand corruption, particularly within the MENA region, and the right to access information should be prioritized by the Coalition for 2022.Fullscreen Mode
Most of the UNCAC Coalition members and affiliated groups from the Sub-Saharan region work on transparency, accountability and anti-corruption, including whistleblower protection. Raising awareness about the importance of public financial management and budgetary monitoring, as well as engaging with national institutions to amend legislation are the central ways they contribute to work in transparency and the fight against corruption in their respective countries.
According to the survey responses, two organizations have had the opportunity to be involved in the national anti-corruption strategic plans. There are developments in some countries to promote digital-based social accountability systems. While several CSOs have been invited to give their input to their country’s UNCAC review process, more CSOs have engaged by working with the UNCAC Coalition to develop Civil Society Parallel Reports.
There are some challenges however in the anti-corruption space, the main ones being limited resources, from human capital to finances; and the lack of recognition of the role of civil society in the fight against corruption and the absence of laws on access to information and whistleblower protection. During 2022, organizations in this region intend to focus on monitoring COVID-19 procurement and its beneficiaries. This calls for more effort invested in beneficial ownership transparency and disclosure, capacity-building, and also engagement with public officials.
Membership in Sub-Saharan Africa values all of the Coalition’s initiatives, in particular the production of parallel reports. They would like for there to be more advocacy support when reports are published, as well as greater engagement at the country level on environmental crime and corruption, which is a new policy area in the region. Additionally, the Coalition can improve its work by facilitating channels for engagement between the regional membership and their national policymakers involved in the UNCAC review, as well as by advocating for increased funding for civil society.Fullscreen Mode
The regional analysis of responses from our network is a crucial step in tailoring the Coalition’s engagement to the needs of our membership, and strengthening our joint advocacy efforts. The findings from the Annual Activity Survey and the identified priorities will act as the basis for our new strategy, which is being developed and will be published in the coming months.
A heartfelt thanks to our network for the time and efforts you have invested in the Annual Activity Survey for 2021. We highly value your opinion!