Organisation: Armenian Lawyers’ Association (ALA), Secretariat of the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia
Name of Organisation’s Representative: Karen Zadoyan
Country: Republic of Armenia
Which seat are you nominating for? Europe Regional Seat
Profile of Organisation
ALA, the leading anti-corruption NGO in Armenia, was founded in 1995 (<https://armla.am/en/>). ALA’s aims and mission are contributing to the reduction of administrative and political corruption and the identification of legislation, which includes corruption risks; promoting transparency and integrity; implementing institutional anti-corruption reforms; raising the level of anti-corruption perception and awareness among the public; and supporting the development of effective public administration system in Armenia.
In 2014, ALA became a member of the UNCAC Coalition network and in April 2016, a member of the registered UNCAC Coalition association. ALA has run the initiative of the establishment of CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia and is coordinating its secretariat since 2014, which has more 71 members and is the “front” in the anti-corruption fight (<http://aac.am/en>). The latter was recognized by the UNCAC Coalition as an exemplary player. The Coalition was also officially recognized by the RA Government, and in 2016-2019 had a permanent seat at the RA Anti-Corruption Council headed by the Prime Minister.
ALA has also established Anti-corruption Centres aimed at combating administrative (petty) corruption since 2008. The activities of the Centres’ include providing legal assistance to corruption victims as well as supporting ALA and Coalition in achieving the above-mentioned aims.
ALA submitted suggestions concerning the Draft Coalition Strategy 2018-2020 and participated in the inaugural UNCAC Coalition virtual General Assembly as well as in the Second Review Cycle.
Since 2008, ALA has been lobbying to adopt UNCAC related anti-corruption mechanisms. Hence, the biggest success we achieved, is the implementation of the following anti-corruption reforms in Armenia:
- Criminalization of illicit enrichment.
- Establishment of Corruption Prevention Commission.
- Draft law on the Anti-Corruption Committee.
- Introduction of the Whistleblowing system, and the Institute of beneficial ownership.
- Commitment to establish the Anti-Corruption Court, introduce Anti-Corruption Compliance, and envisage criminal liability for the legal persons.
- Introduction of the judicial vetting’s elements, and the Confiscation of Property of Illegal Origin (in-rem).
Noteworthy, that ALA and Coalition are among the main actors who authored and developed the 2019-2022 RA Anti-Corruption Strategy.
Top Three Priorities to Achieve for the Coalition
- Support CSOs to greater engage in and contribute to the UNCAC review process.
- Foster global collaboration between CSOs to mobilise broad civil society action on the national, regional and international levels to achieve the implementation and monitoring of the UNCAC.
- Encourage the Armenian and other UNCAC member states’ Government to sign the Coalition’s Transparency Pledge.
Profile of Candidate
Karen Zadoyan – Founder/President
Karen Zadoyan is the founder and president of the ALA․In 2014, together with partner CSOs, he founded CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia and becoming the Coordinator of the Coalition’s secretariat․In 2008 he created and started running the Network of Anti-Corruption Centres of Armenia. Mr. Zadoyan is the author of the idea to establish Iravaban.net, an independent, professional, and anti-corruption media outlet. In 2015, he founded and started running the Anti-Corruption School for Young Leaders.
Karen Zadoyan is the initiator and author of the roadmap of the anti-corruption reforms implemented in the RA in 2016-2017. He has acted as a Team Leader and Senior Expert within the various project in the field of human rights, judiciary, good governance, anti-corruption, and provided consultancy to international and regional organizations, state authorities. In 2019, he initiated and jointly with the EU, UNDP and RA Ministry of Justice organized an International Anti-Corruption Expert Conference in Armenia, where the international and national experts and all stakeholders gathered and discussed the pillars and objectives of new Anti-corruption Strategy of Armenia.
He is a lawyer. Since February 2020, he is a member of the Professional Committee on Constitutional Reforms, created by the Prime Minister’s decision.
What is your organisation’s mission?
The mission of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association (ALA) is to develop a new generation of highly professional lawyers, having a modern outlook and moral values, as well as to promote the establishment of rule of law, and formation of the legal culture in the society.
How are you involved in the UNCAC Coalition?
In 2014, ALA became a member of the UNCAC Coalition network and in April 2016, we became a member of the registered UNCAC Coalition association. The ALA submitted several remarks and suggestions concerning the Draft Coalition Strategy 2018-2020 and participated in the inaugural UNCAC Coalition virtual General Assembly.
On the advocacy front, the ALA has carried out advocacy with the Armenian Government to encourage them to sign the Coalition’s Transparency Pledge (see below).
What do you find most interesting about the UNCAC Coalition’s work?
One of the most exciting things about the UNCAC Coalition’s work is that it unites the most influential anti-corruption actors/organisations in over 100 countries, exchanging experience and serving as an inspiration for continuous anti-corruption efforts all over the world. Another interesting thing about the UNCAC Coalition is that it is committed to promoting the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which is a paramount tool in the fight against corruption. The UNCAC Coalition’s work is commendable as it facilitates the exchange of information among members and supports national civil society efforts to promote the Convention against Corruption. It’s also exciting that Coalition members are able to share views via the website, mailing list and ad hoc working groups.
What UNCAC-related and anti-corruption activities in general have you been involved in?
We have been involved in UNCAC related anti-corruption activities since 2008, when we opened advocacy support centres across the country. Later, in 2011, those centres were renamed to anti-corruption centres. These centres work on issues covered by the UNCAC. Thus, the ALA has been raising the issues of criminalisation of illicit enrichment, the establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency, as well as the introduction of mechanisms on whistleblowers’ rights and protection for over 10 years.
The biggest success we achieved in these directions was when we implemented the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project funded by the European Union and co-funded by the OSCE Office in Yerevan. In 2014 the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia was established as part of this project. This coalition currently comprises 96 civil society organisations (CSOs) both from the capital, Yerevan, and the country’s ‘marzes’ (regions). One of its biggest successes was being granted a permanent position on the Anti-Corruption Council adjacent to the Government of the Republic of Armenia.
The ALA and the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia have jointly fought for the adoption of the following essential legislative reforms in Armenia:
- On 16 December 2016, the National Assembly of Armenia unanimously voted for the draft law criminalising illicit enrichment (Article 20, UNCAC), which came into force on 1 July 2017;
- On 28 June 2017, the National Assembly of Armenia unanimously voted for the draft law on the Corruption Prevention Commission (Article 6, UNCAC);
- On 28 June 2017, the National Assembly of Armenia unanimously voted for the draft law on the whistleblowing system (Article 33, UNCAC);
- On 16 December 2016, the new Law on Procurement was adopted, which includes a provision on beneficial owners;
- The strengthening of the institute of declarations of income and assets submitted by public officials (entry into force in June and July 2017), including but not limited to:
- broadening the scope of public officials and persons affiliated with them who are required to submit declarations
- introducing declarations of conflict of interests
- introducing a system of both administrative and penal sanctions for the violation of the obligation to submit the declarations and etc.;
- The introduction of the obligation imposed on public officials submitting declarations of income and assets to conclude non-cash transactions above a certain threshold (entry into force in July 2017);
- An increase from two to five of the seats reserved to CSO representatives at the Anti-Corruption Council of the Republic of Armenia (entry into force in December 2016);
- The acceptance of more than half of the 107 recommendations submitted to the Government to carry out anti-corruption reforms in seven target areas in the business sector (public procurement, tax, customs, free economies, licenses and permissions, systemic anti-corruption reforms, etc.);
- The acceptance of 62.5% of the recommendations submitted in four target sectors (education, health care, state revenue collection, police) regarding the Implementation Action Plans of the Anti-Corruption Strategy of the Republic of Armenia for 2015-2018 (with other members of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of CSOs);
- Inclusion of the clauses in the new Government Program on the creation of the register of beneficial owners and creation of an independent anti-corruption body which will also carry out law enforcement functions.
The ALA has launched a whistleblowing web platform for businesses (www.bizprotect.am) in the framework of the “Evidence-Based Advocacy for Reform” project, implemented by GIZ and financed by the EU, in a consortium with two other organisations. It is an anonymous web platform for receiving complaints on corruption. ALA experts examine the reports on the webpage and take appropriate action.
As anti-corruption education is of great importance for ALA, we are organising anti-corruption and integrity schools, trainings, conferences and working sessions. Our organization has organised anti-corruption and integrity trainings for about 200 public officials in the framework of the commitments undertaken within the scope of the Open Government Partnership third Action Plan.
ALA sent an official request in November 2016 to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia to sign the UNCAC Coalition’s Transparency Pledge. We also had a meeting with the Armenian focal point, Deputy Minister of Justice Suren Krmoyan on the Pledge. However, on 27 July 2017, ALA received an official response from Ministry of Justice that the request was rejected.
What UNCAC related activities/work are you most looking forward to?
We would like to:
- participate in the UNCAC Conference of State Parties Sessions;
- be included in the on-site review when the Republic of Armenia is peer reviewed in 2018;
- be included in the Implementation Review Group to peer review other states. It is worth mentioning that in the Republic of Armenia no civil society representatives are included in the IRG;
- submit parallel reports;
- participate in the UNCAC Coalition working groups;
- participate in UNCAC-related trainings, in particular in order to submit parallel reports.
While the ALA coordinates the Secretariat of the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia, only the ALA a member of the UNCAC Coalition at present. This coalition, which now unites 96 CSOs (see above), are also in the process of applying to join the UNCAC Coalition.