14 November 2013, by Fritz Heimann.
After three years of operation, the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism is off to a promising but uneven start. Transparency International has prepared a progress report on the review process, and has prepared recommendations for strengthening reviews, including the following:
It is impressive that 168 governments have ratified the UNCAC. However, the failure of two crucial G20 governments —- Germany and Japan — to ratify the convention is deplorable and should be overcome promptly.
Follow-up action on country reports
No follow-up process has been established to address governments’ implementation of recommendations in the country reviews. The fifth COSP should call on governments to prepare action plans to respond to these recommendations. Such action plans should be circulated within six months after the completion of country reviews and submitted to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Unless the need for prompt follow-up action is addressed, the implementation review process will lose momentum. The action plans should include information on technical assistance required.
The review process is far behind schedule. The UNODC staff that manage the process are highly competent, but to overcome the delays they need more people to work with governments that are conducting country reviews as well as with governments that are being reviewed.
Fifty-one executive summaries have been published , as of mid-November 2013, but only 19 country review reports. The executive summaries published by UNODC are informative, but the full country reviews contain much more information. In the interest of transparency they should also be published.
It is encouraging that most governments have agreed to country visits by reviewers. Such reviews must become standard practice. The alternative of desk reviews conducted in Vienna is unsatisfactory, particularly for civil society participation.
About Fritz Heimann
Fritz Heimann is one of the founders of Transparency International (TI) and sits on TI International Advisory Council.