8 December 2023 –
Global mapping of anti-corruption progress: tools for success
In a year of anniversaries, this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December commemorates 20 years of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), taking place just before the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 10th UNCAC Conference of the States Parties.
Already in Atlanta, ready to embark on intense days of action and advocacy to raise the global bar on key anti-corruption issues and ensure civil society has a seat at the table, we look back on progress made over the past year in UNCAC implementation, visualized through our interactive world maps.
Let’s start with some numbers. Thanks to your engagement, in 2023, we have supported the production and publication of 14 new parallel reports, bringing a civil society perspective to the UNCAC review process. Our Transparency Pledge has 37 signatories, our Access to Information campaign has encouraged 17 governments to publish information. Our network has grown to almost 400 members and affiliates, with 5 (soon to be 6) working groups focussing on critical issues. These are only a few of our Coalition’s achievements. But numbers tell us just one story.
- Our UNCAC Review Status Tracker map brings together all available information on countries’ reviews in one place . The review processes are typically difficult to follow, which makes it challenging to really see how countries are implementing commitments under the UNCAC;
- Our Transparency Pledge compliance map shows both the level of compliance of States Parties that have signed the Pledge and which States have not signed it yet;
- Our Civil Society Parallel Reports map 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 reports look not only into the legal but also the practical implementation of the UNCAC at the national level;
- Our Access to Information Campaign map 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, which is not always published voluntarily.
1. UNCAC Review Status Tracker
This map complements the Coalition’s UNCAC Review Status Tracker spreadsheet. 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 3.5 years worth of advocacy, since International Anti-Corruption Day 2022, the latest information we have is that out of 190 States Parties:
- 89 reviews are still ongoing – with 11 reviews having progressed to the next stage since last year, of which:
- 31 reviews are in the pre-country visit stage;
- 59 reviews are in the post-country visit stage – 20 more than a year ago;
- 63 reviews have been completed; and
- for 37 reviews, the review status is unknown – as opposed to 50 a year ago, meaning that we have filled information gaps on reviews in 13 States Parties to the UNCAC.
Over the past year, we were able to gather information on the status of UNCAC reviews that we previously had no information on through research, networking at conferences, including our own, which more and more people from the anti-corruption community attend, and targeted outreach to UNCAC focal points. Through our continued outreach and engagement with focal points in other States Parties, we were not only able to update this information in our tracker, but to find out about upcoming country visits prior to them happening and push for those States to involve a wide range of civil society stakeholders in the reviews, following good practices in terms of timing of such a meeting, allowing for them to meet the reviewers without the government under review present, among others.
This had a major impact on the ability of civil society organizations to participate meaningfully in these country visits, particularly in Spain, Canada, Serbia, as well as for the EU’s 1st cycle UNCAC review, and provide their expert input to the peer reviewers. We briefed CSOs in our network and beyond on the particularities of UNCAC reviews and country visits in order to equip them adequately for their participation. In the case of Serbia, the CSO we supported in writing a parallel report on UNCAC implementation at the national level, was able to brief other CSOs on their main findings and hence present a united front on key anti-corruption issues that need to be addressed. We plan to continue this approach to ensure the meaningful participation of civil society in UNCAC reviews, as well as high standards of transparency.
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 or even further (though this decision is still pending adoption at the 10th Conference of the States Parties in a few days). 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.
For more specific examples of how to meaningfully engage civil society in UNCAC reviews and ensure high standards of transparency, please refer to this blog post.
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 encouraging States Parties to sign up 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.
37 out of 190 States Parties have signed the Transparency Pledge so far, with 18 new signatories since December 2019, and 4 more signatories in 2023 (Albania, Liberia, Mongolia and Australia). 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 once again asked to provide detailed information on their compliance status in October 2023. Similar to last year, more than half have yet to reply.
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 and like last year, only one country is 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 as their action plan for the implementation of the recommendations from their country review with civil society actors. Through our Access to Information campaign, the self-assessment checklist was also published. 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.
The number of States Parties that are mostly compliant with the Pledge’s principles and spirit has more than doubled over the past year, now at 17 countries (as opposed to 8 one year ago). These countries are: Austria, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, United States of America. Noteworthy examples of their commitment to transparency and civil society participation include:
- A meeting 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 draft of the self-assessment checklist was published online in Chile, and was shared with CSOs ahead of the country visit and their comments taken on board in Germany and the UK. In the UK, the government even published the joint response to the self-assessment checklist by a coalition of British NGOs, and shared their findings in a meeting with the peer reviewers.
- In Portugal, the civil society organizations that participated in the country visit were each given one hour alone with the peer reviewers to provide input.
- All review documents have been published on the UNODC country profile pages of Germany, Italy, Portugal, UK; Mauritius and Slovenia – including information on follow-up measures taken; and on a governmental website for Poland (see here and here).
- An annual meeting was held with civil society by the Chief Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission in Slovenia, during which the findings and recommendations of the final UNCAC review country report were discussed.
- Mauritius lists the names of the civil society organizations that were included in its UNCAC review 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 States Parties, including Chile, are committed to defending civic space in UNCAC fora, for instance, by co-chairing a Group of Friends on the participation of different stakeholders, which has reached 51 members.
Several countries indicated on the map are partially compliant with the Pledge, in many cases, due to the fact that the review is still ongoing. One example to highlight is Switzerland, which 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 meaningfully 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.
The countries indicated on the map as not compliant yet (Estonia, Finland, Albania and Liberia) have not had their country visit yet, but have assured the UNCAC Coalition that civil society will be included in it. For four Pledge signatories (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, 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. For two States Parties that were included in this list last year, we were meanwhile able to obtain information – Poland even moved from ‘unknown’ compliance to ‘mostly compliant’ over the course of 2023.
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. In line with our Pledge, we also encourage States Parties to sign up to the UK’s IRM initiative, which also aims to achieve higher standards of transparency and participation in the UNCAC’s Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) and to support a joint plenary statement at CoSP10 to reinforce this commitment.
Supporting the Transparency Pledge is our 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 42 civil society parallel reports on the implementation of Chapters II (prevention of corruption) and V (asset recovery) of the UNCAC. The parallel reports provide 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 conducted interviews with relevant government and non-governmental stakeholders and, in some cases, sent numerous access to information requests to obtain statistical and other relevant information. By identifying good practices and deficiencies, these parallel reports highlight what is working in practice and provide recommendations for improvement – all with the aim of making the fight against corruption more effective.
In 2023, the Coalition published 14 parallel reports on 2nd review cycle UNCAC implementation, providing support to civil society organizations globally from mostly Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipient countries. By region:
- Americas: 3 – El Salvador, Chile, Puerto Rico (which does not appear on the map due to technical reasons) – with one on Venezuela currently in progress;
- Asia-Pacific: 2 – Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh – with one on Fiji currently in progress;
- Sub-Saharan Africa: 4 – Ethiopia, Burundi, Zambia, Guinea;
- Europe: 5 – Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro – with one on Kosovo currently in progress;
We also published an independently produced civil society parallel report on Palestine (which for technical reasons unfortunately does not appear on the map).
Besides building civil society organizations’ 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 Serbia, Albania, Chile, Serbia, Montenegro, Burundi as well as in other stages of the UNCAC reviews at the national level.
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, Vanuatu, Maldives, India, Kazakhstan, Tonga, China, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tajikistan;
- Malawi, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Niger, Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Sudan;
- Turkey; Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Iran.
Find out more about the requirements and how to apply.
The UNCAC Coalition has launched an initiative for civil society organizations to promote and act on the recommendations developed in their parallel reports on UNCAC implementation in their country. These follow-up activities seek to enable our members and affiliates to interact with the government, relevant key stakeholders and policy-makers, to create momentum and advocate for reforms on the national level. At a global level, these efforts aim to strengthen the implementation of the UNCAC.
In 2022, we supported civil society organizations in promoting good governance, transparency and accountability in their respective countries by advocating for the passage of key anti-corruption bills in Liberia, involving civil society in the adoption of the national anti-corruption strategy in Togo, and reminding government officials about pending anti-corruption recommendations awaiting implementation in Madagascar, among other objectives. To build support for these issues, CSOs conducted strategic communications activities, met with high-level stakeholders, raised awareness through public debates and reached out to the media, and much more.
At the time of writing, , follow-up activities are just coming to an end in Brazil (related to anti-money laundering legislation), Mexico (related to legislation on whistleblower protection and victims of corruption) and Paraguay (related to political financing), with results foreseen in early 2024.
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 40 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 Poland, in just 7 working days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs comprehensively responded to the freedom of information request sent by Citizens Network Watchdog Poland, disclosing the self-assessment checklist for both Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 reviews, a draft of the Cycle 2 full country report, information on the national UNCAC focal point, civil society participation, as well as the status of the review and follow-up actions. In Bulgaria, the Ministry of Justice responded positively to the freedom of information request sent by Transparency International Bulgaria, sharing the Cycle 1 self-assessment checklist and information on civil society participation, as well as focal point details and follow-up actions. This information is 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, 20 civil society organizations from Europe and North America; 8 from Latin America and the Caribbean; 8 from Asia-Pacific and 7 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.
- Check out our campaign analysis to gain deeper insights into how countries have responded to our requests, browse the best practices and understand where there is room for improvement.
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.