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UNCAC CoSP10: Some progress but insufficient pace to combat corruption

Meeting in Atlanta on 11-15 December, States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption made some advances but more remains to be done

Following Friday’s late-night conclusion of the 10th Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC CoSP10) in Atlanta, Transparency International welcomes new anti-corruption commitments agreed by the governments. However, the overall conference outcomes fall short of what participating civil society organisations and some State Parties had set out to achieve.

See the UNCAC CoSP10 Atlanta Civil Society Declaration

Geopolitical conflicts seemingly contributed to the watering down of many resolutions. Still, advances on some key issues not addressed in the past, including whistleblower protection, gender, and public procurement, were finally addressed through stand-alone resolutions. The conference included a full programme of special events and opportunities for plenary statements that highlighted current challenges in the implementation of the convention and aspirations for change.

In a welcome step for the defence of civic space, States Parties voted to override objections against the participation of three civil society organisations, including Transparency International Armenia. Overall, the conference hosted a record number of representatives from non-governmental organisations and served to foster constructive dialogue and collaboration between government and civil society delegates. The United States as host also provided opportunities for pre-conference consultations with civil society and other stakeholders. Additionally, the United Kingdom delivered a statement on behalf of 56 countries committing to increased transparency and inclusion of civil society in the ongoing second cycle of the UNCAC review process.

Transparency International welcomes the adoption of a resolution tabled by Nigeria to enhance the use of beneficial ownership information to strengthen asset recovery, following tough negotiations. It builds on a previous resolution, adopted at CoSP 9, and includes several new elements, such as a call on States Parties to consider maintaining historical records and to ensure that beneficial ownership information is searchable by domestic authorities. Unfortunately, it fails to adequately address the critical issue of access by foreign competent authorities and by civil society.

States Parties also made encouraging progress in addressing – for the first time ever through dedicated resolutions – whistleblower protection, gender, public procurement, and the links between corruption and organised crime. While resolutions are not binding, they still hold significance by helping to advance the global anti-corruption debate, fostering consensus on key issues and, in some cases, establishing a framework for follow-up work.

However, States Parties fell short in advancing global commitments on other crucial issues, in particular enhancing the transparency and oversight of political financing. Ahead of the biggest election year in history, globally, State Parties missed an important chance to address the corrosive impact of illicit money in politics. The Atlanta Declaration on accountability, sponsored by the United States government, was the perfect opportunity to do so but, despite support from several countries, the sponsor and other negotiating states did not prioritise the issue.

Similarly, the call by Transparency International and other civil society organisations to adopt a victim-centred approach to anti-corruption and to guarantee victim participation and reparation in corruption proceedings was not sufficiently reflected in the resolutions – even though there was extensive attention to the topic during special events and plenaries.

Notes to editors

Transparency International arranged two digital billboards outside the CoSP10 venue for the duration of the conference. One billboard urged country delegates to pick up the pace in the fight against corruption, while the other called out secretive CoSP talks and the resistance to transparency measures.

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