Key Takeaways from the UNCAC Coalition’s 2024 Survey of its Global Network

16 May 2024 –

Earlier this year, the UNCAC Coalition carried out its annual survey of its membership to further understand the successes as well as challenges that civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Coalition’s network face in carrying out anti-corruption work.

The survey also gathered ideas for how the UNCAC Coalition can further support members’ work at the national level and foster collaboration and joint advocacy among its network to combat corruption globally. We received over 140 responses from CSOs and individual members across the globe and have laid out below the key takeaways from the survey responses.

The UNCAC Coalition will use the survey findings to further strengthen its efforts to support members’ work and to promote greater collaboration, coordination and joint advocacy efforts to advance anti-corruption measures in UNCAC fora and beyond.

How has the UNCAC Coalition helped your work?

Many respondents report that the UNCAC Coalition helps strengthen its members’ anti-corruption efforts and achieve greater impact in a variety of ways. The Coalition fosters collaboration and coalition-building around specific topics, expands the network of partners, boosts advocacy efforts and amplifies the impact of CSOs’ work. Respondents also cite the Coalition’s regional meetings and working groups as important ways of enhancing knowledge, understanding, and networking for anti-corruption efforts, providing opportunities to engage with like-minded organizations to address common challenges and promote innovative solutions. 

The Coalition’s tools and resources are also useful for supporting national level advocacy and helping groups participate in UNCAC country reviews.

For example, CSOs report using the Coalition’s compilation of best practices and policy recommendations to advocate with legislators for the adoption of laws and policy measures in their country.

Respondents also report that being part of the UNCAC Coalition enables them to have greater legitimacy and leverage in undertaking advocacy efforts at both the domestic and international level. Support for the creation of parallel reports to assess UNCAC implementation and the access to information campaign were also cited as concrete ways in which the UNCAC Coalition has strengthened CSOs efforts at the national level.

Here are some success stories from each region:

Asia and Pacific: A CSO, working in partnership with the UNCAC Coalition, contributed to establishing a civil society committee to promote transparency and accountability in the spending of funds as part of the creation of a multi-party trust fund established in a country to oversee disbursements of stolen assets. 

Europe: A CSO used the tools, resources and support from the UNCAC Coalition to create a parallel report on UNCAC implementation and to participate in its country’s review visit, leading to the development  with the government of a website monitoring platform to monitor UNCAC implementation. 

The Americas: A CSO carried out a number of activities to promote the results of a parallel report it created with the support of the UNCAC Coalition. The CSO was invited by its government to participate in a 20th anniversary of the UNCAC event in December 2023, providing an opportunity to further promote the parallel report findings and call for greater NGO participation. As part of its advocacy activities to disseminate parallel report recommendations, the CSO also hosted a multi-stakeholder meeting that brought together experts to focus on how to strengthen the fight against corruption through whistleblower reporting and protection measures. 

Middle East and North Africa: A CSO made use of the UNCAC Coalition Asset Recovery Working Group to raise attention and garner support for the campaign they launched on preventing issuance of a decision to lift international sanctions on the assets of a former president. 

Sub Saharan Africa: An NGO used the access to information training tools from the UNCAC Coalition to successfully advocate for improved access to information in the agricultural sector at the county level, providing a platform for farmers and stakeholders in the sector to directly engage with government officials to improve service delivery and prioritization of farmers’ needs during county planning processes. 

What are the main challenges that your organization faces?

Shrinking civic space is one of the major challenges identified across all the regions. Security and safety risks hinder the ability of groups to carry out their work, with civil society activists facing threats, intimidation, harassment, persecution and even imprisonment in their efforts to prevent and combat corruption.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, respondents report that security challenges are on the rise, legally, physically and digitally. In the Americas, the survey results show an increase of government attacks on civil society participation, either directly or by legislation and policies aimed to limit civil society participation in relevant discussions focused on anti-corruption or human rights.

Legal barriers are a major impediment. Laws that limit public participation and access to information and that restrict the ability of CSOs to operate or to access funding were repeatedly cited as major obstacles. In Europe, organizations are most affected by ambiguous or stringent regulations, and in some cases Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) or other types of lawsuits. Other challenges include limited or no cooperation, commitment, and support from the government, weak legal frameworks and lawsuits. In some regions, such as in Asia and the Pacific region, the limited number of CSOs working on anti-corruption also presents difficulties.

Another major challenge identified across all regions is the lack of financial resources and limited capacity/human resources due to difficulties in raising funds for anti-corruption work. Furthermore, donor preferences for project-level versus core funding is another factor that restricts the ability of CSOs to have the necessary resources and agility to advance anti-corruption efforts and to respond to emerging opportunities and threats. 

How can the UNCAC Coalition support your work?

Many respondents put forward concrete ideas for how the Coalition could support their work and how the Coalition can bring together civil society to have a more unified and impactful voice in advocating for anti-corruption reforms.  Specific ways in which the Coalition should provide support:

  • Paying attention to the protection of activists, 
  • Supporting and coordinating the active participation of CSOs at the UNCAC Conference of States Parties (CoSP) and increasing the reach of advocacy efforts at the CoSP, 
  • Providing opportunities and platforms for knowledge-sharing activities, networking, training and capacity building on anti-corruption issues as well as developing and promoting tools and resources to support national-level advocacy efforts,
  • Collaborating on joint advocacy, activities and awareness-raising, including by developing regional and global advocacy campaigns, as well as social media campaigns to raise awareness on anti-corruption issues,
  • Linking up CSOs with other organizations that are working on similar issues to exchange knowledge, and
  • Providing strategic planning support and fundraising support, and helping to connect sources of funding for CSOs working on anti-corruption.

Were you engaged in the UNCAC review mechanism?

The survey also focused on an issue of paramount importance for ensuring government accountability and promotion of civic space: active and meaningful civil society participation in country reviews in the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) which evaluates UNCAC implementation. Some respondents report having been able to participate in country reviews in an impactful way, resulting in concrete outcomes such as:

  • the ability to influence policy decisions and actions to enhance anti-corruption efforts, 
  • the country report highlighting NGO recommendations, 
  • the organization of a whole civil society day as part of the country visit without government representatives present, 
  • the involvement of CSOs in the review process strengthening their credibility with partners and donors,
  • CSOs jointly creating a monitoring platform with the government to ensure a more transparent process of UNCAC implementation, and
  • the involvement of CSOs in other follow-up activities to monitor progress and address recommendations. 

However, many other respondents have encountered significant challenges in trying to engage in UNCAC country reviews due to lack of transparency and inclusiveness of the review process.

A major obstacle is the lack of information about the review process and country visits and civil society not being invited to participate in country reviews, preventing CSOs from properly engaging in the process. Other barriers include the failure of the government to publish the final report, and not being invited to take part in the assessment process. These experiences highlight the importance of strengthening the UNCAC’s review mechanism in its next phase to ensure greater transparency and civil society participation, including in follow-up measures taken after reviews.

What activities and advocacy efforts would you like to be involved in ahead of CoSP11?

The  majority of respondents across the regions said that they wanted to take part in CoSP11, which will take place in 2025 in Qatar. Although the CoSP is still a year and half away, this interest shows the value that organizations place in participating in the CoSP.

Groups would also like to collaborate and form partnerships across the Coalition’s network to enhance the impact of organizations’ advocacy efforts, both individually and jointly at the CoSP. Organizing side events and having opportunities to engage with policy-makers as well as with the private sector are other ways in which groups would like to be involved. Respondents also would like to continue the focus and involvement in efforts to influence resolutions on such issues as combating environmental crime and corruption, tackling the role of enablers, combating financial crime, and promoting political finance transparency and accountability.

What are your thematic priorities for 2024-2025?

Thematic priorities vary to an extent region by region, however the findings show several anti-corruption priorities that are raised across all the regions which include: beneficial ownership transparency, combating illicit financial flows, open contracting, asset recovery, civic space and empowering civil society and the media in anti-corruption efforts, protection of whistleblowers, environmental crime and corruption, political finance integrity and accountability, open data and access to information, monitoring UNCAC implementation and the links between human rights and corruption. Other issues raised include monitoring national anti-corruption strategies, sanctions enforcement, tackling corruption and conflict, public sector integrity, budget transparency, and citizen engagement and participation in policymaking. There is a need for stronger advocacy focused on youth engagement and youth protection globally to enable effective campaigns for transparency and anti-corruption.