UNCAC in Africa: Civil society and government officials join to advance their anti-corruption agenda

16 May 2019 – A strong will to cooperate and the dedication to advance the fight against corruption were brought to the “Multi-stakeholder Workshop on Implementing the UNCAC and its Review Mechanism” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Civil society and government representatives from 15 African countries joined the training, which was jointly organized by the UNCAC Coalition and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the support from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) on 8-11 April 2019.

The workshop sought to prepare and motivate participants to contribute to their domestic review mechanisms, in particular for the second review cycle, which focuses on preventative measures and asset recovery. A priority was to help civil society organisations in acquiring the imperative tools and information about the UNCAC, its provisions and its mechanisms to get involved in the review process, whilst strengthening ties between activists from different countries and facilitating knowledge sharing. Equally important was to give an understanding to governmental representatives of why it is crucial to cooperate with civil society representatives in addressing corruption.

Besides informative talks by anti-corruption experts, the agenda included an interactive role-play exercise on how to conduct a country review. Other sessions highlighted how the UNCAC can be used by civil society groups to advocate for effective public access to information, transparency in public procurement and in the management of public finances.

The issue of asset recovery was of particular interest to many activists. David Ugolor, Executive Director of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in Nigeria, shared asset recovery experiences from his country in the recovery of the so called Abacha Loot: “In Nigerian asset recovery cases, alliances with NGOs from abroad increased international pressure and triggered cases in various countries. This led to asset returns which were used for international development and to a strong domestic framework for asset recovery.”

In the second review cycle, of the 35 African countries that have started their UNCAC implementation review process, eight have finalised their executive summaries. Of all the country visits that have so far taken place amongst the African countries during the second review cycle, all have included non-state actors, according to UNODC.

There was broad consensus that it is crucial to ensure a transparent and truly inclusive UNCAC review process that provides opportunities for civil society to contribute, share findings and provide recommendations, in order to maximize the UNCAC’s impact to create momentum for reforms.

You can read more about the workshop in this article by UNODC.

Presentations and materials

UNCAC Coalition and Civil Society Representatives

UNCAC Review Mechanism (UNODC Documents in English and French)