UNGASS 2021 – UN General Assembly Special Session against Corruption

UN Headquarters in New York.  Credit: Wikicommons/Neptuul (CC)
UN Headquarters in New York. Credit: Wikicommons/Neptuul (CC)

Last updated: 19 June 2020

From 26 to 28 April 2021, the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) focused on corruption will take place in New York.

The UNGASS provides an opportunity to shape the global anti-corruption agenda for the next decade – by advancing bold and innovative approaches, scaling best practices and developing new standards and mechanisms.

  • As the Coalition is currently preparing a detailed submission to the UNGASS consultation website, we are encouraging on civil society organisations and experts to provide input through this survey by 25 March, 2020: The survey is available in English, French and Spanish. For more details, please see this post


UNODC has launched a website to solicit and publish submissions from governments, UN bodies, international organisations and civil society organisations: http://ungass2021.org/

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit their contributions to UNODC to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

We have been told that there is no firm deadline for civil society input but early submissions are encouraged by UNODC which has asked governments to submit their input for a zero draft of the UNGASS’ Political Declaration by 1 March 2020.

Contributions by the UNCAC Coalition
  • First Submission to the Consultation Process, 03 March 2020: In this initial submission, we outline key topics we believe the UNGASS’ political declaration should address. Following a broader consultation process among UNCAC Coalition members, we will elaborate in more detail on the specific actions that should be taken in a second, forthcoming, submission. (French version available here – Spanish version available here.)

Opportunities to become involved:
– The UNCAC Coalition will hold a consultation with its members and the groups in its network to collect input for a detailed submission in March-April 2020, to which you can contribute
– If you would like to share your positions and input and contribute or coordinate UNGASS advocacy, get in touch with us: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Apply to join the UNCAC Coalition to become fully involved in our UNGASS advocacy
– You can also make a direct contribution to the consultation process, as outlined above.

Timetable of preparatory meetings

A zero draft of the Political Declaration will be prepared by UNODC, taking into account input received through the consultation process from States Parties, civil society groups, UN bodies and international organisations.

Three CoSP intersessionals will take place in 2020 either virtually or in Vienna to prepare the political declaration of the UNGASS:

UNODC has postponed the UNGASS discussions scheduled for 22-23 June due to technical problems. The 1st intersessional meeting will be rescheduled to the week of 31 August 2020 (exact dates to be confirmed. Additional information will be made available on this website.

  • 22-23 June: Focus on prevention and criminalisation – POSTPONED
  • 2-4 September: Focus on Asset Recovery
  • 18-20 November: Focus on International Cooperation

Between those intersessional meetings, which can be attended by civil society observers (who also have the opportunity to speak), informal negotiations will also take place in Vienna (where civil society will be excluded).

The political declaration will be adopted at a special CoSP session in March 2021 before it is forwarded to the General Assembly.

The intersessional meetings can be attended by organisations that were registered as observers for the UNCAC CoSP8 in Abu Dhabi in December 2019.
In case you are interested in contributing to UNCAC Coalition advocacy, attending Intersessionals and/or the UNGASS 2021, please let us know – and consider becoming a member of the UNCAC Coalition.

Basis for the UNGASS

The basis for the UNGASS is the General Assembly resolution 73/191, adopted on 17 December 2018, in which the Assembly decides to hold a special session “on challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation” and that this session “shall adopt a concise and action-oriented political declaration, agreed upon in advance by consensus through intergovernmental negotiations under the auspices of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.”

The resolution was initiated and drafted by Colombia, Peru and Norway, as well as Belize, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

The 8th Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC CoSP8) negotiated and approved a draft resolution on the “Special session of the General Assembly against corruption” for subsequent adoption by the General Assembly.

Civil society participation in the UNGASS

The UNCAC Coalition has advocated for a strong inclusion of civil society organisations in the UNGASS and its preparation.

The question of how and to what extent NGOs can participate in the UNGASS proved to be highly contentious, as some countries sought to limit civic space – while many others have highlighted the importance of civil society involvement in the UNGASS and its preparation.

The resolution prepared by the CoSP (yet to be adopted by the General Assembly) provides the following framework for civil society participation in the UNGASS:

UNGASS preparations (Vienna and online)

  • In the preparation of the UNGASS, all organizational and substantive matters are to be organised in an “open-ended and transparent manner”;
  • The CoSP resolution “reiterates the importance of an inclusive preparatory process, including extensive substantive consultations” and encourages “civil society, academia and other relevant stakeholders” (alongside UN bodies and other relevant international and regional organisations) “to fully contribute to the preparatory process”, requesting UNODC to collect and make available such contributions, including specific recommendations on the issues to be addressed by the UNGASS;
  • The intersessional meetings in Vienna can only be attended by non-governmental organisations that had observer status at the 8th UNCAC CoSP in Abu Dhabi – those that have, such as the UNCAC Coalition, can include representatives of other groups in their delegation;
  • Similar to the CoSP, NGOs can speak during the meetings. It may also be possible to show pre-recorded video statements during the intersessional.

UNGASS in New York

  • Representatives of NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status are invited to participate in the UNGASS;
  • NGOs without ECOSOC consultative status: the President of the UN General Assembly will draw up a list of “other relevant representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector who may attend the special session”, and submit the list to Member States for their consideration on a non-objection basis. This means that governments will be able to object against certain NGOs attending the UNGASS if they do not have ECOSOC consultative status;
  • Time permitting, a limited number of representatives from relevant organisations, selected by the President of the General Assembly in consultation with Member States, will be allowed to make statements.
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Global civil society network promoting the implementation and monitoring of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)