After three days of negotiations two groups of countries are still at loggerheads over whether a UN treaty will effectively tackle corruption. A small group of countries are currently pushing proposals for a review mechanism which would water down implementation to the point of seriously undermining the treaty. These proposals risk leaving the Convention toothless.
Corruption seriously undermines democracy, human rights and sustainable development. Any treaty is only as strong as its implementation. Whilst the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) has the potential to become a global anti-corruption standard, without an effective and transparent review mechanism it will be little more than a piece of paper.
The majority of countries at the Conference of States parties in Doha are battling with a small group over the key parts of the review mechanism. Having ratified the Convention these ‘blockers’ are unwilling to share information on progress in complying with the Convention’s requirements.
The civil society coalition, representing over 200 organisations from around the world, believe that in order to be effective the review mechanism must also include:
- Full publication of country reports
- Meaningful civil society participation
- In country review visits
There has been extensive experience with country reviews under other anti-corruption conventions, and the majority of the UNCAC Parties have participated in similar reviews (e.g. OECD, FATF, GRECO) building mutual confidence and trust in the outcomes.
The blocking states are opposed to these principles but there is still time for the two groups to come together and agree on a review mechanism that would give UNCAC teeth.
Note to editors: UNCAC is a multilateral treaty which 141 countries have signed. It includes provisions on bribery, embezzlement, asset recovery, bilateral legal assistance and money laundering.
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