To the United Nations Convention against Corruption Conference of the States Parties
Atlanta, Georgia, 11 to 15 December 2023
We, the undersigned civil society and international organisations, representing a diverse range of voices from across the globe, address this crucial gathering of the 10th Session of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Conference of the States Parties in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. As staunch advocates for democracy, transparency, accountability and the rule of law, we express our collective commitment to the ideals of this Convention and its vital role in countering corruption worldwide.
We acknowledge the substantial progress made in the fight against corruption, and we commend the efforts of States Parties in implementing various provisions of UNCAC. Nevertheless, we wish to draw your attention to an area of critical concern that requires immediate attention: political finance transparency.
According to the most recent UNODC report on the implementation of Chapter II of the UNCAC, Article 7 represents the greatest challenge among the 82 countries reviewed. Eighty of the countries received recommendations in this area, including those to address some of the most prevalent challenges in the implementation of Article 7.3, including, a “lack of comprehensive legislation or administrative measures to regulate the funding of candidates for elected office and the funding of political parties, including in relation to adequate limits to private donations and restrictions of anonymous and foreign donations, effective disclosure obligations and oversight and audit mechanisms”.
Political finance is a pivotal issue in the fight against corruption. The integrity of democratic processes is contingent on financial transparency and accountability in politics. The lack of transparency in political finance leads to waste or misuse of often limited public resources, posing a threat to the entire sustainable development agenda.
When financial contributions to political parties, electoral campaigns, or candidates are opaque and unaccountable, this enables clientelism, fuels corruption, increases the cost of political participation and destroys trust in governments. These outcomes adversely affect public services, drive conflict and make politics an exclusive club. These negative impacts are felt most keenly by women, young people, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.
The UN General Assembly, in a Special Session against Corruption on 2 June 2021, declared: "We recognize that Member States are responsible for ensuring transparent, free and fair elections... transparency in the funding of candidatures for elected public office, political parties and electoral campaigns, where applicable, with a view to preventing corruption, ensuring accountability, promoting good governance and reinforcing trust in public institutions."
We therefore call on the States Parties to further prioritise and enhance political finance transparency as part of the UNCAC framework. We specifically urge you to strengthen Article 7.3 of the Convention by introducing provisions in new resolutions that effectively address the following areas:
1. Closing loopholes for illicit funds in politics
Corruption can enter politics through various channels, including illicit funds and opaque donations routed through shell companies, third parties or anonymous donors. We urge States Parties to enact and enforce laws that close all such loopholes, ensuring that the ultimate source of funds is fully disclosed and verified. Implementing robust due diligence procedures for political donations and contributions is paramount. These should encompass party primary or candidate selection processes and in-office costs.
2. Introducing digital reporting and disclosure systems
Transparency is the cornerstone of democracy. States Parties should develop mechanisms for the timely and comprehensive public disclosure of political contributions, expenditures and campaign financing. This should extend to all levels of government and political entities, including individual candidates, promoting the accountability of both political candidates and parties.
3. Improving oversight and accountability of political finance regimes
Accountability is essential in curbing corruption. We encourage States Parties to establish and strengthen independent oversight bodies with adequate powers to monitor, investigate and enforce compliance with political finance regulations. These bodies should be equipped with sufficient resources, autonomy and authority to ensure the integrity of the political finance system.
4. Promoting knowledge, civic engagement and public participation
An informed and engaged citizenry is essential for upholding democracy and countering corruption. States Parties should actively engage civil society, encourage public participation in political finance oversight and protect the rights of whistleblowers who expose corruption within the political finance system. States Parties should invest in improving the knowledge base about the role of money and influence in politics. They should mandate UNODC, in consultation with civil society, to coordinate the production of gap analyses, guidelines and technical assistance material on political finance transparency.
5. Strengthening international cooperation.
Corruption is a transnational issue, and international cooperation is essential to combat it effectively. States Parties should commit to sharing information, best practices and resources to ensure the global fight against corruption is coordinated and unified. Cross-border corruption schemes should be met with a coordinated international response, and efforts should be made to recover and repatriate assets stolen through corrupt practices.
Improved transparency and governance across the board can contribute to reducing incentives for corrupt actors to seek to enter or influence politics. We urge States Parties to make countering corruption a priority across all branches of government to achieve full, effective and timely implementation of the UNCAC.
The fight against corruption and the preservation of democratic values are interlinked. It is imperative that we adapt to the evolving challenges of corruption in the twenty-first century. By enhancing political finance transparency and strengthening Article 7.3, we can take a significant step towards a more transparent, accountable and equitable political landscape. The UNCAC embodies a global commitment to these ideals. We call on all States Parties to work collaboratively to address these issues, both domestically and internationally, in a spirit of shared responsibility.
Thank you for your attention and commitment to this vital cause.
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)
UNCAC Coalition Secretariat
Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Access Info Europe
Action for Education and Promotion of Women (AEPW-Chad)
Action pour l'Education et la Promotion de la Femme (AEPF-Tchad)
Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG)
African Election Observers Network (AfEONet)
Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER)
Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM)
Al-Nahrain Foundation for Supporting Transparency and Integrity
Anti-Corruption Data Collective
Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa
Asociación Chilena de Voluntarios
Association Maçons de l'Education
AWTAD Anti-Corruption Organization
Bahrain Transparency Society
Cameroon Anti Corruption Youths Movement
Campaign Legal Center
Center for Fiscal Transparency & Integrity Watch
Center Science and Innovation for Development (SCiDEV))
Central Asian Research Institute on Corruption and Money Laundering
Centre de Recherche sur l'Anti-Corruption (CERC)
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI)
Centre Stratégique Pour La Promotion de Développement Durable (CSPDD)
CiFAR - Civil Forum for Asset Recovery e.V.
Citizens WatchApp App (Tenera Magna Initiative)
Coalition for Integrity and Accountability-AMAN
Community Focus Group (CFG)
CONSTRUISONS ENSEMBLE LE MONDE
Dialogue and Research Institute (DRI)
Forum for Protection of Public Interest (Pro Public)
Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)
Freedom for Eurasia
Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo
Fundación Nacional para el Desarrollo (FUNDE) - TI El Salvador
Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC)
Good Governance Team Nigeria
Government Accountability Project
Helen Suzman Foundation
Improve Your Society Organization (IYSO)
Indonesia Corruption Watch
Iniciativa de Transparencia, Anticorrupción y Digitalización de la Escuela de Ciencias Sociales y
Gobierno. Tecnológico de Monterrey
Instance Nationale de Protection des Biens Publics et de la Transparence au Maroc " INPBPTM"
Institute for Public Policy Research (Namibia)
Integrity Initiatives International
Kosova Democratic Institute
Law Society of Azerbaijan
Liberia CSOs Anti-corruption Coalition
LIGUE CONGOLAISE DE LUTTE CONTRE LA OCRRUPTION LICOC DRC
Maison des Organisations de la Société Civile (MOSC) Anjouan
Mouvement Pour la Lutte Contre l'Injustice (MPLCI)
National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
Open Governance Institute
Open Knowledge Finland
Pay No Bribe Animators
Plateforme Démocratie,Paix, Élections et Développement Durable (Plateforme DPEG)
Public and Private Development Centre
Réseau Nigérien Anti-Corruption
Sange Research Center
Semillas para la Democracia
Spotlight on Corruption
Syri i Vizionit
Tax Justice Network Australia
The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA)
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
The Partnership for Governance Reform (KEMITRAAN)
TI Chinese Taipei
Transparencia por Colombia
Transparency International - Macedonia
Transparency International Anticorruption Center (TIAC)
Transparency International Australia
Transparency International Bangladesh
Transparency International Brazil
Transparency International Canada
Transparency International Czech Republic
Transparency International España
Transparency International Estonia
Transparency International France
Transparency International Georgia
Transparency International Germany
Transparency International Indonesia
Transparency International Ireland
Transparency International Kenya
Transparency International Nederland
Transparency International Nepal
Transparency International Netherlands
Transparency International Portugal
Transparency International U.S.
Transparency International Zambia
Women in Democracy and Governance ( WIDAG)
Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD)
The Carter Center
Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina
Political finance is a pivotal issue in the fight against corruption. The integrity of democratic processes is contingent on financial transparency and accountability in politics.