Real change generated by the Implementation Review Mechanism for the anti-corruption Convention

 

ABU DHABI, 19 December (UN Information Service) - After nearly 10 years of operation, the Implementation Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Corruption has compiled a global, comprehensive gap analysis of what challenges countries and regions face. The reviews provide a technical, non-adversarial and non-politicized entry point for discussions with States and have demonstrated their positive impact in driving forward the process of implementation of the Convention.

An element of its success is the willingness of States to share their experiences and learn from each other. Since its beginning in 2010, there have been 198 executive summaries finalized and 237 country visits or joint meetings undertaken.

Almost 7,000 challenges along with over 1,000 good practices and almost 4,000 technical assistance needs in 108 countries have been identified during the review process.

It was a significant achievement to establish and successfully operate this effective intergovernmental process, demonstrating the commitment of States to prevent and combat corruption. The country review reports have become a benchmark against which progress can be measured.

“Thanks to the United Nations Convention against Corruption nearly every country in the world now has laws in place making corruption a crime,” said the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov.

 

Review process

Under the Implementation Review Mechanism, a State is reviewed by one State party from the same region and another State party from anywhere in the world, both drawn by lot. This has enabled a global exchange of ideas, providing knowledge-sharing opportunities for States parties around the world.

The objective is to assist States parties in their national anti-corruption efforts and in implementing the provisions of the Convention. The final product of each review usually includes conclusions, recommendations and good practices identified by the reviewing experts that are discussed and agreed upon with the State party under review.

The Mechanism has contributed to the desensitization of corruption by reviewing all States parties using the same methodology and holding them to the same standards set by the Convention, while not producing any ranking of either a qualitative or quantitative nature.

The process is inclusive, impartial and objective, as well as non-intrusive and non-adversarial. It takes a positive approach designed to bring out good practices and identify areas to improve and agreement is reached by consensus.

As of 2019, 97 per cent of States parties have participated in one or more country visits or joint meetings. More than two thirds of States noted that the peer review had had an overall positive impact and 90 per cent of States changed their legislation as a result.

 

First and second cycle of reviews

The first review cycle (2010-2015) covered the chapters of the Convention on criminalization and law enforcement, and on international cooperation. The second cycle of reviews started in 2015 and covers the chapters on preventive measures and asset recovery.

 

Building capacity

In 2018 alone, UNODC trained 1,600 people in preventing, detecting, investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating corruption cases; 600 others in the review process; supported the development of 50 laws and policies; assisted 140 States in areas such as legislative drafting, financial crime prosecution, setting up anti-corruption agencies and asset declaration systems as well as developing ethics trainings for police officers.

UNODC has also developed tools to strengthen private sector integrity and published a ‘Practical Guide for Business’ with advice for setting up anti-corruption ethics and compliance programmes. An e-learning tool ‘The fight against corruption’ has been produced in partnership with United Nations Global Compact.

UNODC also supports countries through its network of regional anti-corruption advisers who help develop national anti-corruption strategies. UNODC leads the Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative, a collaborative project that seeks to encourage the teaching and research of anti-corruption by higher-level education institutions. The Education for Justice initiative supports schools, universities and other institutions to teach about the rule of law, including anti-corruption, integrity and ethics.

 

Outcomes of the reviews

Many States have taken various measures to strengthen their anti-corruption framework following observations made during the review process. Such steps include the creation of new and independent anti-corruption authorities, active engagement of the private sector, an open dialogue with civil society or the signing of new mutual legal assistance treaties.

Numerous States have introduced new criminal offences or legislative amendments such as the criminalization of trading in influence, money-laundering, illicit enrichment and obstruction of justice.

Several States highlighted how their experience of being reviewed and acting as reviewers of other States had helped them gain insight into the good practices adopted by other States.

Information gathered may also help assess progress on implementing the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as for establishing effective anti-corruption regimes.

The review mechanism has also led to regional platforms being set up to address technical assistance needs by building on common challenges amongst neighbouring States. So far, four have been set up on three continents: Southeast Asia, East Africa, South America and Mexico, and Southern Africa.

The review mechanism and the work of the Implementation Review Group have had a positive effect on transforming the global landscape in the fight against corruption. They have created a renewed momentum for States to ratify or accede to the Convention and furthered national implementation of the Convention.