Statement by UNCAC Coalition Chair at UN OHCHR Expert Workshop on Corruption and Human Rights

Geneva, 11 June 2018, by Dr. Juanita Olaya Garcia, Chairperson of the UNCAC Coalition –

On the occasion of the “Expert Workshop on Good Practices of United Nations-system support to States in preventing and fighting against corruption with a focus on human rights”

Honourable Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates and Guests,

This meeting marks the beginning of a groundbreaking opportunity for creating effective impact and change in the quality of life for people. We are happy and thankful it is taking place and on behalf of the UNCAC Coalition, a network of over 100 civil society organisations and individuals active across the globe on a wide range of topics and concerned with the impact and effectiveness of the UNCAC, congratulate all of those involved in its organisation. Breaking the silos between corruption and human rights acknowledges a reality; while not all human rights violations involve corruption, quite certainly corruption always impacts human rights. Working together can only improve the effectiveness and impact of our approach in dealing with these problems.

There is so much to learn from each other. It is important that as the impact and mechanisms of corruption are more explicitly dealt with when dealing with human rights violations, the exchange of knowledge and experience takes place at the state-of-the art level. We know now more about corruption than 15 or 20 years ago, there is no need to start from scratch. It is also an opportunity to do it better, and here we want to mention just a few points of consideration:

  • Both grand and petty corruption, national and cross-border corruption, supply and demand-side corruption differ in their tactics and reach, but are just the same when it comes to their impact. Make no distinctions, exclude no form of corruption from your field of vision.
  • The involvement of different stakeholders is necessary to make progress. Not only civil society, academia and business, but also average citizens need to be involved. Here I must differ from what UNODC has expressed: the UNCAC does consider in its Article 13 civil society involvement as mandatory, something that the UNCAC Rules of Procedure 2 and 17 also acknowledge. As civic space reduces around the world, the experience of the UN Human Rights Council and Treaty Bodies in involving other actors in its processes serves as example to the UNCAC, where civil society and other actors face severe involvement restrictions.
  • This is also an opportunity for us all to step up engagement. For us as civil society, for example, we would like to be able to listen to and engage more in conversations with governments with whom we normally have not been engaging, to better understand their reasons and to find ways of collaboration.
  • Also the issue of victims of corruption is an important one at the juncture of corruption and human rights. Victims of corruption are both individual and collective and the damage that corruption causes needs to be repaired. Here civil society can be of help in identifying victims, providing evidence of harm and supporting the measuring of its extent.

We look forward to more exchanges like these and for increased collaboration among both fields.

Thank you.