Dhaka, 3 July 2014, by Manzoor Hasan.
As the UNCAC review process enters its fifth year, it is worth recalling the remarkable distance travelled since the negotiations for an anti-corruption convention began 12 years ago. We now have a viable international framework for worldwide anti-corruption efforts.
Governments have produced the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and designed a peer review mechanism for the implementation of the Convention. To date 70 reviews have been completed and another 30 or so are on the way.
Significant progress has been made, but certainly there is still much to be done before we can say that the UNCAC has realised its potential or that its review process is truly effective.
It is crucial to sustain this momentum and avoid “UNCAC fatigue”.
Successful anti-corruption work yields a return many times its initial investment, but it requires political will, coupled with the engagement of all the key players in society. It also needs well-drafted laws and resources to conduct investigations and pursue prosecutions.
The UNCAC provides a framework for augmenting anti-corruption efforts and mobilising assistance for countries that need it. We know from our own country experiences that enforcement is not a smooth trajectory and that it often changes course. At times political commitment can diminish or even reverse, and currently in most countries – perhaps all – anti-corruption efforts are not robust enough.
We in the UNCAC Coalition have a responsibility to ensure that the UNCAC reaches its potential and plays its role in changing the landscape. At the national level this means ensuring that there are sufficient resources allocated to ensure the implementation of the UNCAC, and its review process and follow up. At the international level it means continuing effective advocacy, particularly for the right of civil society participation – the current exclusion of civil society from meetings of UNCAC subsidiary bodies is disturbingly incongruent with the principles and provision of the UNCAC itself.
I am honoured to have taken over as Chair of the UNCAC Coalition Coordination Committee and very much look forward to working with the Coalition and stakeholders around the world to help ensure that the UNCAC keeps its promise.
On a personal note, I am delighted to re-engage with anti-corruption activists globally after my involvement with the post-UNCAC ratification process in Bangladesh a few years’ back.