9 December 2022 –
New global mapping of anti-corruption progress: tools for success –
Every year, International Anti-Corruption Day invites a moment of reflection. It’s a time to recognize the significant progress that has been made, and to celebrate each other’s successes. Yet it also provides space to evaluate where we need more action.
This year, we visualize global progress for the first time in a series of world maps. At a glance, see what the status of UNCAC implementation reviews is in countries around the world, who is complying with our Transparency Pledge, and in which countries civil society involvement has brought a fresh perspective to UNCAC implementation.
Today, we launch a set of resources to supplement maps visualizing global anti-corruption progress. With a ‘how to guide’ included with every step, there is no excuse to not get involved.
Let’s start with some numbers. Thanks to your engagement, we have supported the production of around 42 parallel reports bringing a civil society perspective to the UNCAC review process. Our Transparency Pledge has 33 signatories, our Access to Information campaign has encouraged 16 governments to publish information. Our network has grown to over 350 members and affiliates, with 4 working groups focussing on critical issues. These are just a few achievements of our coalition. But numbers tell us just one story. Global progress at a glance, visualized for the first time, tells a bigger story. Today, we are launching 4 maps visualizing the progress we have made. They also expose gaps and room for improvement. These tools are designed to help civil society organizations and government officials make better progress in the fight against corruption.
- A Map on our UNCAC Review Status Tracker brings together all available information on countries’ reviews in one place for the first time (as far as we are aware). The review processes are typically difficult to follow, which makes it challenging to really see how countries are implementing commitments under the UNCAC;
- A Map on Transparency Pledge compliance shows both the level of compliance of States Parties that have signed the Pledge and which States have not signed it yet;
- A Map on Civil Society Parallel Reports shows where we have supported civil society organizations in providing a complementary perspective to the 2nd UNCAC review cycle, as well as other reports that were published independently. These report look not only into the legal but also the practical implementation of the UNCAC at the national level;
- A Map on our Access to Information Campaign reflects where civil society organizations have already sent requests for access to information related to UNCAC implementation country reviews. Requests are needed to get crucial missing information on UNCAC implementation, that is not always published voluntarily.
1. UNCAC Review Status Tracker
This map complements the Coalition’s UNCAC Review Status Tracker spreadsheet, launched in May 2022. Visualizing the status of UNCAC implementation of 2nd cycle reviews shows that a lot of countries are opaque in how they are conducting their reviews, with little to no information available. From a civil society perspective, this makes it difficult to engage with and to participate in the reviews. The UNCAC Coalition has been trying to identify government officials responsible for the UNCAC, known as ‘focal points’ to get updates on their review status and encourage them to include civil society in their reviews. Based on a compilation of 2.5 years worth of advocacy, the latest information shows that out of 189 States Parties:
- 78 reviews are still ongoing;
- 39 reviews pre-country visit;
- 39 reviews post-country visit;
- 61 reviews have been completed; and
- for 50 reviews, the review status is unknown.
The second UNCAC review cycle (covering Chapter II on preventive measures and Chapter V on asset recovery), has experienced significant delays to the deadline for completing reviews. Initially planned for 2015–2020, it has been extended twice - once to June 2024, and a second time until December 2025 (though this decision is still pending adoption at the next Conference of the States Parties in late 2023). This is problematic because, with a delay of several years and a prolonged process, information becomes out of date before it can be published. The executive summaries are automatically published on the UNODC’s website, but the outputs of each country review are more extensive, and more could be published. The self-assessment checklist and full country report are key documents which include crucial information on States Parties’ anti-corruption efforts and are often kept secret. The good news is that an increasing number of countries are agreeing to publish key documents.
How can civil society use the UNCAC Review Status Tracker?
How can States Parties make their UNCAC reviews more transparent and inclusive of civil society?
Our updated Guide to Transparency and Participation in the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism (also available in Spanish and French) includes best practice examples, including:
- Publishing information on the review proactively and in a timely manner;
- Forming a multi-stakeholder advisory team to consult on the review;
- Inviting civil society to comment on drafts of the self-assessment checklist and draft country report;
- Including civil society in the country visit in a meaningful way;
- Including detailed information on the involvement of civil society in the country report;
- Jointly shaping a follow-up action plan with civil society to implement the review recommendations, with a monitoring and reporting mechanism in place;
- Including a civil society representative in your country delegation to the Conference of the States Parties or subsidiary bodies.
2. Transparency Pledge Compliance Status
Many States Parties that claim to be transparent and open to civil society involvement have not yet signed the Pledge. And some of those who did, are not (yet) complying.
The UNCAC Coalition is seeking sign-up by States Parties to the Transparency Pledge for the second UNCAC implementation review cycle. The Pledge is a voluntary commitment for minimum standards of transparency and civil society participation in the UNCAC review mechanism.
33 out of 189 States Parties have signed the Transparency Pledge so far, with 14 new signatories since December 2019. This upward trend is an encouraging sign in the face of the shrinking civic space we have observed in UNCAC-related fora over the past few years.
All Pledge signatories were asked to provide detailed information on their compliance status prior to launching this map. Half have not answered (yet).
Disclaimer: Reviews in some of the signatory countries are still ongoing, which means that they have not had a chance to publish documents or hold follow-up briefings yet, since they have not reached this stage of the review process yet.
As shown on the map, there is only one country that is currently fully compliant with the Transparency Pledge, North Macedonia - a country which included civil society at different stages of their 2nd cycle UNCAC review, by asking for input from them on a draft of the self-assessment checklist, enabling their participation in the country visit, and discussing the findings of the country report, as well of their action plan for the implementation of the recommendations from their country review with civil society actors. With our advocacy efforts, the self-assessment checklist was published as well. We congratulate the government of North Macedonia and encourage them to continue to be transparent and include civil society in all of their anti-corruption efforts.
Eight countries are mostly compliant with the Pledge’s principles and spirit: Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Mauritius, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Noteworthy examples of their commitment to transparency and civil society participation are:
- A meeting that was held between several different civil society organizations, the peer reviewers and UNODC a day before Austria’s country visit without Austrian government officials present. The peer reviewers reported finding this very useful as it helped them identify the main issues in the country and guided them on which questions to ask during the actual country visit. This practice has been replicated in several other countries as well. Austria’s self-assessment checklist has already been published despite the review still being ongoing, with the country report currently being drafted.
- A meeting that was held in the framework of an interinstitutional anti-corruption coordination roundtable with civil society in Italy to discuss the findings of the full country report, which has been published on their UNODC country profile page together with their self-assessment checklist.
- Mauritius has published all review documents as well as information on follow-up measures taken after the completion of the review on its UNODC country profile page. Furthermore, the names of the civil society organizations that were included in its UNCAC review are listed in the full country report and the government holds regular working sessions throughout the year with non-governmental stakeholders and anti-corruption platforms to ensure implementation of recommendations and follow-up.
Several countries indicated on the map are partially compliant with the Pledge.
- Switzerland, for example, has published up-to-date information on its review schedule and has clearly indicated contact information for the UNCAC focal point on a governmental website, and has involved civil society in its second cycle country visit, which took place in October 2022. They plan to publish both the self-assessment checklist and the full country report once the review is completed.
- Other Pledge signatories’ country reviews have not been completed yet, and while they have made an effort to comply with some principles of the Pledge, they have not had a chance to fully comply with their commitment yet.
The countries indicated on the map as not compliant yet (Estonia and Finland) have not had their country visit yet, but have assured the Coalition that they would include civil society in it. For six Pledge signatories (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Poland, Spain, Tunisia), their compliance status is unknown, since they have not yet provided the relevant information, nor given assurances that they will include civil society in their country reviews.
Unfortunately, two signatory countries (in red on the map), are currently not compliant with their Pledge commitments. In Mexico, the government has been approached repeatedly about releasing its review documents (the full country report is still being finalized), including through access to information requests, but so far without responding positively. Moreover, it seems like civil society was not involved in the review so far. The government of Afghanistan signed the Transparency Pledge in 2021 but due to current events and changes in power, is not compliant.
There are promising signs that more countries will soon sign the Transparency Pledge. We call on those States Parties who have not done so yet, to sign the Pledge.
Supporting the Transparency Pledge is our updated Guide to Transparency and Participation in the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism with best practice examples (also available in French and Spanish).
How to advocate for your government to sign the Pledge?
- If the focal point for your country is known, reach out to the Coalition for their contact information.
- If not, try and identify who the focal point is, from those people indicated on your country’s governmental experts list on the UNODC’s country profile page and reach out to them.
- Introduce your organization and experience working on anti-corruption matters;
- Inquire about the review status;
- Suggest ways of getting involved in the review (see above);
- Present the Transparency Pledge, the template signature letter and the Guide to Transparency and Participation in the UNCAC IRM;
- Monitor compliance with the Pledge.
3. Civil Society Parallel Reports
Since May 2020, the UNCAC Coalition has supported the production of over 42 civil society parallel reports on the implementation of Chapters II (prevention of corruption) and V (asset recovery) of the UNCAC. The parallel reports produce a current assessment of anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and asset recovery policies at the national level, but go beyond analyzing the legal framework to really exposing implementation and enforcement (or the lack thereof) in practice. Civil society organizations that have written these reports with the Coalition’s technical and financial support have conducted interviews with relevant government and non-governmental stakeholders and, in some cases, have sent countless access to information requests to obtain statistical and other relevant information. By identifying good practices and deficiencies, the Parallel Report highlights what is working in practice and provides recommendations for improvement - all with the aim of making the fight against corruption more effective.
As of today, the Coalition has supported civil society organizations in 42 countries in producing a parallel report on 2nd review cycle UNCAC implementation from mostly Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipient countries. By region:
- Latin America and the Caribbean: 12 – 7 published and 5 ongoing (including one in Puerto Rico at the sub-national level, which does not appear on the map due to technical reasons);
- Asia-Pacific: 8 – 4 published and 4 ongoing;
- Sub-Saharan Africa: 13 – 9 published and 4 ongoing;
- Europe: 7 – 1 published and 6 ongoing;
- Middle East and Northern Africa: 2 – 1 published and 1 ongoing.
Besides building civil society organization’s capacity on UNCAC matters, their engagement with government institutions (through interviews and access to information requests as part of the information-gathering and parallel report writing process) has, in many cases, led to greater involvement of civil society. For example, some civil society organizations were involved in UNCAC review country visits in Honduras, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Namibia, as well as in other stages of the UNCAC reviews at the national level.
Furthermore, the map shows parallel reports on UNCAC implementation that were written with little or no Coalition support in: Bahrain, North Macedonia, United Kingdom, Moldova and Palestine (by Transparency International Palestine, which for technical reasons can unfortunately not be visualized on the map).
How to apply for support to write a parallel report?
The UNCAC Coalition currently has an open call for applications for support to produce a parallel report on the implementation of Chapters II and V of the UNCAC. Preference will be given to civil society organizations from the following countries:
- Belize, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Nicaragua, Dominica, Grenada;
- Niue, Samoa, Republic of Korea, Vanuatu, Maldives, India, Kazakhstan, Tonga, China, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tajikistan;
- Zambia, Malawi, Mali, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Niger, Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Sudan;
- Turkey; Iraq, Libya, Iran.
Find out more about the requirements and how to apply.
The Coalition is also providing support to selected civil society organizations who have written a parallel report for follow-up activities. Learn more here.
4. Access to Information Campaign
By submitting formal Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to governments, we are tracking how responsive and transparent countries are when asked to disclose information about their anti-corruption efforts.
In collaboration with civil society organizations in over 30 countries and counting, the UNCAC Coalition is asking governments and authorities to release crucial information on both UNCAC implementation review cycles. This is possible under national access to information laws. Where such access to information legislation is lacking, civil society can cite the transparency principles enshrined in the UNCAC under articles 10 and 13.
As an example of good practice, in Armenia, in just 5 working days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the freedom of information request sent by the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia, disclosing the Cycle 2 self-assessment checklist, information on the national UNCAC focal point, civil society participation, as well as the status of the review. In Benin, the National Anti-Corruption Authority responded positively to the freedom of information request sent by FONAC, sharing the self-assessment checklists and country reports (in draft format) under both UNCAC implementation review cycles. These documents are now publicly accessible through a shared drive as part of the UNCAC Coalition’s Access to Information (ATI) campaign findings table.
The release of UNCAC documents informs our advocacy and illustrates which countries take their UNCAC commitments seriously. For civil society organizations, participating in the campaign is also an opportunity to exercise the fundamental right of access to information and to become involved in ongoing UNCAC implementation reviews, especially for countries at a stage where the country visit has not yet been conducted.
To date, and with varying levels of success, 14 civil society organizations from Europe and North America; 5 from Latin America and the Caribbean; 8 from Asia-Pacific and 6 from Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the campaign. Is your country represented on the map?
How to participate in the Access to Information (ATI) campaign?
- Learn more about the ATI campaign, its objectives and what it involves on our website.
- Explore the detailed responses, documents and information shared by governments and authorities in our campaign findings table, which is updated on a quarterly basis.
Endnote: Some UNCAC States Parties (Niue, Cabo Verde, Cook Islands, Saint Lucia and Palestine) are not reflected on the maps due to Datawrapper pre-sets.