The global civil society network for the implementation and monitoring of the

United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)

Dear Reader,
We would like to wish you a restful holiday season and all the best for the new year!

2021 will be an eventful and important anti-corruption year, with the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session against Corruption (UNGASS) in June, and the UNCAC Conference of States Parties in December – we will share more details on important events in January. 

UNGASS 2021: Need for Bold Action

If you missed our session at the 19th International Anti Corruption Conferencemoderated by UNCAC Coalition Chair Helen Darbishire (Access Info Europe), which discussed priorities for the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) against corruption, you can find a detailed summary here and re-watch the session (as well as many other interesting sessions of the IACC):

FACTI-Panel Co-Chair Ibrahim Mayaki presented on gaps the Panel has identified in the international anti-corruption framework in its interim report – its final report, which will be released in February, will provide recommendations that will hopefully be reflected in political declaration of the UNGASS. Shervin Majlessi of UNODC presented the time-table of preparations for the UNGASS as well as issues Member States had covered in their submissions. Gillian Dell of Transparency International highlighted key priorities, including introducing publicly accessible central registers of beneficial ownership, addressing grand corruption, advancing asset recovery and ensuring follow-up on high-level commitments.

Key Takeaways:
  • The more than 60 participants ranked beneficial ownership transparency through central public registries, tackling impunity in grand corruption cases and transparency in public procurement as top priorities for the UNGASS.
  • Bold steps are needed to make substantive progress in preventing and tackling corruption. So far, we do not see many governments bringing such an attitude to the negotiations – many delegations have yet to become closely involved in negotiations. The first few months of 2021 will provide a window of opportunity for stakeholders – civil society,  experts and governments to seek to influence the political declaration of the UNGASS by engaging national governments on advancing bold positions. 
A Call for Transparent Company Ownership
Corruption cases emerging from government responses to the COVID-19 crisis have highlighted that it is essential that we are able to find out which individuals ultimately own and control companies that do business with the government and receive public funds.

That is why the Coalition, together with Transparency International and over 100 civil society organisations and academics, is calling on government leaders to commit to transparency in company ownership for the common good at the UNGASS 2021.

Our clear message: the "concise and action-oriented political declaration" to be adopted by the General Assembly should commit all countries to establish central, public registers of beneficial ownership as the new global standard. This should be supplemented by efforts to verify the collected information in order to ensure the accuracy and reliability of beneficial ownership data. Transparency in company ownership is more than a technical solution to a problem – it is a matter of social justice.

We invite businesses, civil society, academia and other stakeholders to sign the appeal until 8 January 2021. You can find the updated list of signatories at the bottom of this page maintained by Transparency International.
Sign the appeal

Recent Developments

Webinar on Strategic Litigation of Corruption in Latin America 
The UNCAC Coalition hosted its first regional webinar for the Latin American region. Nearly 40 representatives from civil society organisations participated. See the highlights here.
Briefs on Karimova asset recovery cases
The Uzbek Asset Return Network (UARN) has released a briefing paper series analysing the challenges, concerns and opportunities in the international return of assets linked to Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the former President, to Uzbekistan. Find the briefs here (English, Russian).
International Court Ruling: Equatorial Guinea vs. France
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that France's seizure of a mansion from the Vice President of Equatorial Guinea in a criminal money laundering case had not violated diplomatic privileges. Returning stolen assets is a requirement under the UNCAC. Read more about the case here.
⁦Ghada Fathi Waly, who earlier this year became the new UNODC Executive Director, recently had a first meeting with the three Vienna-based umbrella civil society coalitions, among them the UNCAC Coalition, emphasising the close partnership between UNODC and civil society. The role of civil society is also highlighted in the new UNODC strategy

Welcome to our new members!

Learn more about this month's Member in the Spotlight – CERC – here

Interesting Publications

Updated Handbook on Asset Recovery
The Asset Recovery Handbook: A Guide for Practitioners has been updated by the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) initiative, a joint effort by the UNODC and the World Bank.
Poland: 'Laying the Groundwork for grand corruption'
The Stefan Batory Foundation launched a report on the Polish government's (anti-) corruption activities between 2015-2019. The report posits corruption as a "longer-term situation" and analyses state-level actions in resisting serious abuses of power. Read the full report here.
Corruption Risks related to Covid-19 Vaccines
UNODC's recent policy paper outlines ways to identify and mitigate corruption risks related to the allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, highlighting open contracting as a key approach to tackle corruption risks in procurement. 
'The Time is Now – Addressing the Gender Dimensions of Corruption'
This UNODC report seeks to answer questions like: Does society have higher expectations of women in power as being less corruptible compared to men? And would more women in power change this equation – for better or for worse? 

Do you have relevant news or a success story linked to the UNCAC that you would like to feature in our next newsletter? Send us an email with the subject line "Newsletter" at!

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