The UNCAC Coalition is extremely concerned about reports that the Russian Federation has taken steps to block attendance of a Georgian NGO at an upcoming UN meeting on corruption. This NGO, the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center-Caucasus Office, had been accredited to attend the two previous meetings of the Conference of States Parties for the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
The UN meeting, held biennially, brings together government’s signatory to the UNCAC to discuss follow-up activities and processes. The two previous meetings took place in 2006 and early 2008 and the next one will be held in Doha from 9 to 13 November 2009. No NGO has ever been excluded from the Conference of States Parties due to an objection from a government, although in the past an objection was made and then withdrawn.
“If this objection stands, it will set a dangerous precedent” said Vincent Lazatin of the Transparency and Accountability Network in the Philippines, a Coalition organisation that was the target of the previous government objection ahead of the first conference on the convention. “It would suggest that arbitrary objections could be made.”
The collective global efforts to fight corruption envisaged by UNCAC are seriously threatened by any political or otherwise unfounded objection to the attendance at the UNCAC Conference of States Parties of any civil society organisation. UNCAC’s Article 13 specifically recognises an important role for civil society and NGOs in the fight against corruption and calls for their involvement as well their access to government information.
The rules of procedure adopted by governments for intergovernmental UNCAC meetings, allow objection by a state party. No reason has to be given nor does the UN have to reveal which government is objecting. This is at odds with a convention that calls for transparency, accountability and civil society participation in anti-corruption efforts.
The Coalition calls for the objection to be withdrawn and for steps to be taken to ensure that NGOs will not be excluded on the basis of arbitrary objections. The Coalition will be writing to governments to obtain views on this subject.
Note to Editors: The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the most comprehensive global legal framework for combating corruption. It is a binding agreement ratified by 141 states on standards and requirements for preventing, detecting, investigating and sanctioning corruption. The adoption of an effective review mechanism at the upcoming Conference of States Parties is essential for the success of the UNCAC.
The UNCAC Coalition was formed in 2006 and is composed of more than 100 civil society organisations in more than 60 countries. Its goal is to promote ratification, implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention against Corruption. More information can be found at www.uncaccoalition.org