CoSP Intersessional

Page last updated: 29 September 2022

Earlier this month, governments and civil society experts met to discuss progress towards implementing commitments on anti-corruption. The Conference of the States Paries (CoSP), in its resolution 9/2, decided to hold prior to the 10th CoSP, one follow-up intersessional meeting of the Conference on the achievements of the UNGASS’ political declaration. The intersessional meeting was held from 5-8 September in Vienna. More information and agenda is available on the UNGASS Intersessional event page.

We covered highlights on twitter. Read our latest blog for a detailed summary and more analysis of what governments said.

UNCAC Coalition side events at the intersessional meeting

UNGASS follow-up: Recent Developments in Corruption Prevention

Organized by the UNCAC Coalition, sponsored by the European Union.

Date & Time: Tuesday, 6 September 2022, 14:00-15:00 (CET)
Location: Room M3, M-Building, VIC, or online via Zoom.

Moderator: Mathias Huter, Managing Director of the UNCAC Coalition

Speakers from left to right: Samantha Feinstein, Helen Darbishire and Mathias Huter. Joined by David Banisar, online (not pictured).

The UNCAC Coalition’s side event, supported by the European Union, evaluated progress towards implementing key prevention commitments reflected in the UNGASS Political Declaration. Leading civil society experts discussed recent developments, progress, and challenges observed globally in advancing access to information, the protection of whistleblowers, freedom of the media, and space for civil society. Key points from each speaker included:

  • Helen Darbishire from Access Info Europe highlighted that access to information (ATI) is a core right, however, its implementation is hard to measure due to a lack of information published by governments on it. We have made some progress, but challenges remain in terms of ensuring effective public access proactively or upon request. We need available data held by government bodies to be made transparent and accessible for collaborative efforts to progress on the SDGs.
  • Samantha Feinstein from Government Accountability Project GAP, USA, underscored the importance of whistleblowers, which are a powerful tool for fraud prevention. It is important for the next CoSP to have a dedicated resolution on whistleblowers, including specific measures that actualize the intentions behind people reporting corruption.
  • David Banisar from Article19, spoke about backsliding democracy and transparency, to the detriment of journalists and whistleblowers. He referred to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’ report on defenders who work on anti-corruption, which is unique in its recognition of the nexus between corruption and whistleblowers.

UNGASS follow-up: Recent Developments in Asset Recovery

Organized by the UNCAC Coalition, sponsored by the United States.

Date & Time:  Wednesday, 7 September 2022, 14:00-15:00 (CET)
Location: Room M3, M-Building, VIC, or online via Zoom.

Introduction: Kellen McClure, Anti-Corruption Advisor, U.S. Department of State

Moderator: Mathias Huter, Managing Director of the UNCAC Coalition

Speakers from left to right: Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Sankhitha Gunaratne,
Mathias Huter, Gillan Dell and David Ugolor.

The UNCAC Coalition’s side event, organized with support of the United States, highlighted the need for active follow-up to the UNGASS political declaration in relation to asset recovery, including formal monitoring, increased technical assistance to origin countries, and coordination with similar discussions in other international standard-setting forums. Key points from the civil society experts, who all serve on the UNCAC Coalition’s board, included:

  • David Ugolor from ANEEJ, Nigeria, spoke about the differences between the Abacha I and Abacha II looting cases and the successful involvement of civil society in the second case. The lack of transparency about where funds went after the Abacha I case prompted civil society actors to sign an MoU with the Nigerian government, and over 200 CSOs monitored the disbursement of funds from the central bank to poor families in the return of the Abacha II assets – a model, that could be replicated elsewhere.
  • Sankhitha Gunaratne from TI Sri Lanka highlighted the struggles of the country’s ongoing economic and political crisis, and the necessity of state action to initiate asset recovery efforts. She also highlighted the strong public demands for a recovery of stolen assets. The rapid spread of disinformation can be countered through initiatives like the GlobE network: a platform for cross-border information exchange to end corruption.
  • Naomi Roht-Arriaza, professor of law at the University of California Hastings, USA, and board member of the Due Process of Law Foundation DPLF spoke about victims of corruption and receiving compensation, drawing on different examples from around the world. Identifying specific groups of victims enables us to demand their participation in the process of restitution. The legal standing of NGOs to act on behalf of and represent public interests has also led to success stories, such as the Obiang case involving France and Equatorial Guinea. She also referred to the many creative ways in which funds can be returned, including through national funds, purpose-built foundations and tailored asset returns, among others.
  • Gillian Dell from the Transparency International Secretariat expressed the need for a formal follow-up process in relation to the UNGASS Political Declaration. While updates in asset recovery suggest some progress, beneficial ownership registers should be a requirement for countries, with provisions on, for instance, making them public. This was the subject of both a CoSP 9 resolution, as well as a joint submission by TI and the UNCAC Coalition at the same Conference.

 

A global civil society network promoting the implementation and monitoring of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)