Organisation name: Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG)
Name of organisation’s representative: Gladwell OTIENO
Which seat are you nominating for? Sub-Saharan Africa
The Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) is a governance and anti-corruption organisation based in Kenya. AfriCOG has previously served on the Coordinating Committee and would like to offer its candidacy again.
AfriCOG’s vision is of a Kenya and African region in which citizens and civic organizations are vigilant over public life and actively watch over politics and the economy. Our mission is to build and entrench an anti-corruption culture and integrity in public life through informed and determined action in the public and private sectors. To do this we use research to inform our advocacy, promote the growth of investigative journalism, employ strategic litigation and build and backstop effective coalitions and partnerships at local and international levels.
AfriCOG has won significant cases with its partners, e.g. against attempts to curtail the power of the Auditor General. AfriCOG has attained prominence through its courageous and impactful research and advocacy governance, electoral management, accountability for political violence, resistance to the curtailment of civic space and for meaningful implementation of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, particularly its landmark provisions on leadership and integrity and accountable management of public resources. AfriCOG was a founding member of the Open Government Partnership international steering committee.
AfriCOG formerly sat on the UNCAC coalition coordinating committee and has served as co-Vice-Chair. AfriCOG contributed to editing a gap analysis of Kenya’s compliance with UNCAC and made recommendations for reforms towards full compliance.
AfriCOG attended the UNCAC Implementation Review Group in Vienna in 2016, speaking on the negative impact of the FATF’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing provisions on civil society internationally. AfriCOG has also presented at regional training meetings of the Sub-Saharan platform in Addis Ababa on issues such as advocacy.
At the 16th IACC, AfriCOG presented on a panel on transitional justice and major economic crimes. At the CoSP6 in St. Petersburg, AfriCOG cooperated in UNCAC CCC activities and also presented on a panel on social damages and compensation for victims of corruption using the example of collaboration with Corruption Watch UK. As members of the founding steering committee of the Open Government Partnership, we also participated in a panel discussion on OGP and UNCAC.
AfriCOG attended the 2018 UNODC Expert Group Meeting on Corruption Involving Vast Quantities of Assets in Lima, Peru, where we moderated a session and highlighted UNCAC committee success stories. AfriCOG regularly publishes on governance and corruption issues in Kenya.
Top Three Priorities to Achieve for the Coalition
- Building on AfriCOG’s experiences in collaborating with Corruption Watch UK on the Smith and Ouzman bribery case, in which Kenyan electoral officials were bribed by the UK company to grant ballot printing contracts, I would like to strengthen international cooperation among coalition members on complex cross-border corruption cases, particularly in the home countries of the major companies involved in major corruption cases.
- I would like to see increased collaboration in the African region on analysing the changing nature of corruption and developing effective strategies to counter it. AfriCOG is currently finalising a report analysing Kenya’s decades of failed attempts to fight corruption effectively and the reasons behind this, which partially draws from the South Africa experience of state capture. We hope to continue the collaboration started with further work, perhaps drawing in more countries in the region and seeing how/if UNCAC offers potential for countering state capture in the region.
- AfriCOG would like to use the Sub-Saharan platform to extend and deepen the UNCAC Coalition network to African countries both to those where we are already present but could add more members and to those which have not hitherto been involved. This would help on strengthening linkages between UNCSC and related initiatives, such as the OGP and other regional civil society accountability networks.
Gladwell Otieno is the Executive Director of AfriCOG. She worked at TI in Berlin, then moved to South Africa to the Institute for Security Studies. She then joined TI-Kenya as its Executive Director, following the appointment of her predecessor, John Githongo, to the Office of the President as the governance and anti-corruption adviser. Unfortunately, as corruption reasserted its hold over the Kibaki government, John Githongo fled into exile and Gladwell was forced out of TI-Kenya. She then founded AfriCOG, chaired by John Githongo.
With her colleagues, Gladwell became a major target of government hostility as one of the leaders of a coalition called Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, which militated for accountability for misgovernance, rigged elections and the mass violence that followed them in 2008 and led to the prosecution of the president and his deputy at the International Criminal Court.
Gladwell studied Political Science and French at University of Massachusetts Boston and the Free University, Berlin. She chairs the Board of the African Leadership Centre, Kings College, London, and is on the board of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime.