UNCAC Coalition submission to inform final stage of UNGASS preparations

23 March 2021 –

The UNCAC Coalition has shared a comprehensive submission with Member States to inform the final stage of the preparation of the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) against corruption which will take place June 2-4.

For the UNGASS to have a substantive impact on strengthening efforts to prevent, detect and prosecute corruption, and on mitigating its consequences, ambitious actions and bold commitments from Member States are needed. At this point in the preparation process, it is not apparent that Member States will indeed agree on commitments that will result in substantive progress in global anti-corruption efforts.

Drawing on input and contributions from many of our member organisations and their expertise, the report outlines challenges and shortcomings in policy areas key to fighting corruption, provides examples of good practice approaches from Member States, and outlines commitments Member States should make to advance transparency, integrity and accountability and ensure substantive progress in tackling corruption.

The submission adds to our first submission (.pdf) and a joint submission with TI (.pdf), as well as the statements we have made during the three intersessional meetings of the UNCAC Conference of States Parties on preparations for the UNGASS.

Please find below an outline of key areas for action.

Download the full submission:
> English (.pdf)
> Spanish (.pdf)
> French (.pdf)

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Key areas for action

Member States should commit to:

  • adopting and implementing strong access to information laws that comply with international standards, recognising a fundamental right of access to information held by State bodies, and establishing independent oversight bodies to supervise the implementation of this law and to promote effective access to information;
  • implementing (or maintaining) open contracting approaches and ensuring full public access to information and to all documents and agreements throughout the lifetime of a contract, from planning to implementation, by publishing all state contracts online, in line with best practice, including in standardised open formats such as the Open Contracting Data Standard;
  • establishing central online public registers of the direct owners and beneficial owners of companies, foundations, trusts and all other legal entities, with timely and accurate information; and to making this information freely accessible online for law enforcement, competent authorities as well as the public in open formats, and where possible, in real-time;
  • adopting and implementing measures to ensure adequate transparency and accountability in the financing of political parties, candidates for public office and electoral campaigns, as well as independent, adequately-resourced oversight of the finances of parties, candidates and campaigns;
  • requiring civil servants and public officials in decision-making positions to comprehensively disclose their assets and other relevant interests at least annually; to mandating the publication of these declarations in easily accessible formats online; to ensuring independent verification of the filings; and to establishing and enforcing effective sanctions in cases of non-compliance;
  • creating and maintaining a safe and enabling environment for civil society, ensuring the safety of anti-corruption activists, witnesses, whistleblowers, journalists and others who uncover and report on corruption; to actively facilitating the participation of civil society and other non-state stakeholders in national, regional and international anti-corruption efforts;
  • taking concrete steps to strengthen the political and operational independence as well as the capacity of institutions that play a crucial role in national integrity systems, such as election commissions, regulatory and oversight bodies, financial intelligence units, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and parliaments;
  • addressing weaknesses in legal frameworks and enforcement systems and ensuring effective investigations and enforcement of all domestic and foreign corruption offences; and to regularly publishing updated statistics on criminal, civil and administrative investigations, charges, proceedings, outcomes and mutual legal assistance activity;
  • adopting and implementing comprehensive legislation on reporting mechanisms, investigations of complaints and whistleblower protection in line with best practice and international standards; to ensuring transparent implementation in practice as well as robust protection from retribution and criminalisation to all whistleblowers and their families, providing them with timely and effective assistance and resources as needed;
  • taking effective action against the serious crime of grand corruption and encouraging the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction for the prosecution of the same on a national, regional and international level, in line with UNCAC Article 16.2;
  • making settlement agreements public, including their terms of justification, the facts of the case and the resulting offences, providing for effective sanctions, and including reparations for damages caused by the corruption as part of the settlement agreement;
  • recognising that corruption is not a victimless crime; to establishing legal frameworks to enable and facilitate the compensation of both individual and collective victims of corruption (communities); to increasing efforts to repair damages caused by corruption by providing victims with material and/or symbolic reparations; and to granting independent non-governmental organisations legal standing before all courts to represent individual and collective victims of corruption;
  • advancing the recovery and return of assets, ensuring transparency and accountability at all stages of the process with the close involvement of civil society and in a manner that contributes to fulfilling the SDGs, to the reparation of the damage caused to victims and to society; to considering a new multilateral agreement and/or mechanism to overcome asset recovery roadblocks;
  • acknowledging gendered forms of corruption, producing gender-disaggregated data on corruption offences, ensuring the criminalisation of sextortion, and creating safe and gender-sensitive corruption reporting mechanisms for women and other vulnerable persons;
  • making the UNCAC implementation review process more transparent, inclusive and effective, including by committing to involve non-governmental stakeholders in the review process, publishing key documents of the review and information on the process, and by agreeing on a mandatory follow-up mechanism that reviews progress made on implementing recommendations from previous review cycles; and
  • launching an inclusive mechanism for Member States, international organisations, experts, civil society representatives and other stakeholders to discuss gaps in the existing anti-corruption framework and shortcomings in implementation, as well as to develop ideas and possible approaches and mechanisms to address those shortcomings.