CERC, Transparency International and other civil society groups call on the UN General Assembly to act on globalised corruption

To tackle transnational, large-scale and high-level forms of corruption, UN member states should task a special intergovernmental expert group with the development of concrete solutions, say 96 organisations in a joint letter. The urgent request comes at a time when governments are preparing for the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session against Corruption (UNGASS 2021), taking place in June.

The signatories include prominent national and global civil society organisations working to curb corruption, organised crime, human rights abuses and environmental crimes. Private sector and professional groups such as the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Bar Association’s Anti-Corruption Committee have also signed the joint appeal.

The UNGASS 2021 is mandated to adopt an “action-oriented” political declaration that should set the course of global anti-corruption efforts for the years to come. The letter urges governments to use this historic occasion to start to address the gaps and weaknesses in the current international framework. In particular, signatories call for the creation of a multi-stakeholder expert working group that would develop technical proposals for new arrangements.

Gillian Dell, Head of Conventions Unit at Transparency International, said: “The current systems are failing when it comes to deterring large-scale and high-level corruption, often stretching across borders. The international anti-corruption community has been actively discussing areas for reform. What is needed now is for the UN to work on concrete new frameworks and structures for ensuring accountability and justice.”

Adopted in 2003, the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding international anti-corruption treaty with a global scope. In recent years, many governments, expert groups and UN bodies have highlighted its shortcomings and called for systemic improvements. In 2019, 140 experts from around the world made over 60 recommendations for enhancing the international framework to prevent and curb “corruption involving vast quantities of assets,” also known as grand corruption. This year, the UN’s FACTI Panel concluded that the “widest possible range of enforcement tools are needed to prevent impunity” for corruption and other financial crimes.

Mathias Huter, Managing Director of the UNCAC Coalition, said: “As corruption schemes evolve, it is crucial that the international framework to tackle corruption also responds to new patterns and trends we see around the world. Discussions on gaps and weaknesses in the current anti-corruption mechanisms, and on what could be done to address them, need to be conducted in a truly inclusive manner. This means involving experts from Member States as well as from international organisations, civil society, academia, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders in order to ensure we are making meaningful progress.”

Notes to editors

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Educating girls saves lives and builds stronger families, communities and economies

Equal access to quality education is vital for the future of her country and the wider world. It is the key to sustainable development. However, achieving quality education remains a challenge. 

Around the world girls suffer from injustice, difficulty accessing school, violence on their way to and at school as well as child marriage and labour. Missing out on an education will mean that girls and women will remain underrepresented in our future leaders. 

Education allows a better life. It is indispensable for ending the generational cycles of poverty and disease and provides the means to achieve sustainable development.

Quality education can enable girls and boys to have the knowledge and skills to behave responsibly and to play an active role in social, economic and political decision-making. 

When an educated child goes from adolescence to adulthood, they have a better chance of growing into an adult who can and will give back to society.  

If more children receive a quality education, they are more likely to send their children to school and help to end the cycle of missing out on an education. 

Since 2017, Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption – through its NORAD-funded project “Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality” – spreads awareness and campaigns for the achievement of the education and gender equality goals set by the Sustainable Development Goals 4 (quality education) and 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).

The aim of campaigns organised by the Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption is to sensitise parents, decision-makers, opinion leaders and civil society to their effective and efficient commitment to get girls to schools, including those living with disabilities. 

Equal access to education and quality education for all can help address the deeply entrenched and often sexist inequalities in our societies. 

Education for all requires all children to go to school without discrimination. The government must give children the right to education and free primary education, as stipulated in the country’s constitution. 

It is also one of the regulatory provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the right to education. 

It is an inalienable right, it is an inescapable right, it is a sacred right that must not be mortgaged, it is a fundamental right that opens the doors of life to the human being.

It is a right that is more than a right. It is a right that must be respected.

Strengthening our Accountability to people we work with

Communities and young people should be involved in making decisions about programmes that affect them, from design and delivery to monitoring and evaluation.

NGOs, Agencies, Government, among others, must be accountable to the communities and young people they serve. They should share with them as much information about their work as they can, so that the people they work with are well informed about programs that affect them. For example, they must constantly organise feedback sessions with community members, including those who are marginalised and invite them to tell what they think about the projects and activities, and show that their opinions matter.

How do we strengthen accountability to our beneficiaries?

At CERC, we make sure to listen and respond to community opinions, treat them with respect and show that their opinions matter.

We listen to young people’s voices to be sure that our programmes are responding to their needs. Young people’s views are critical to our programme delivery, making our work more relevant and sustainable, and allowing young people to be an active part of their own development.

This approach allows us to run programmes that are more relevant to people’s real priorities and needs. It allows us to hear feedback about our programmes and adapt them as a result. So, it improves the quality of our work, as well as building the self-confidence of community members to claim their rights.

Our years of experience working in communities gives us credibility and ensures that young people and communities feel comfortable working openly and honestly with us. We use a range of participation methods – always adapted for the local context – to ensure that we communicate properly with young people and communities about the programmes we are running.

How we did it in the past?

A crucial element of our community integrity building program has been a two-way feedback system between communities and decision-makers.

Community feedback has been facilitated by young people, who used methods such as text messaging, phone interviews and radio call-ins to gather opinions and ideas. This feedback helped shape CERC’s ongoing program, as well as the responses of other organisations. By supporting young people to gather this feedback, they gained valuable skills and had the opportunity for their voices to be heard by community leaders.