Fast-tracking the implementation of UNCAC in West and Sahel Africa

Dakar (Senegal), 23 November 2022 – Around the world, corruption continues to pose a significant obstacle to achieving peace, security, sustainable development and human rights. It weakens government institutions, erodes trust, jeopardizes justice and the rule of law, and negatively impacts the security and stability of countries.

Against this backdrop, around 80 high-level officials, technical experts and representatives from civil society, the private sector and development partners from Francophone Africa are gathering this week in Senegal for the launch of the latest regional anti-corruption platform from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in a five-day meeting.

Brigitte Strobel-Shaw, who heads UNODC’s Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, told participants that “the overall objective of these platforms is to leverage regional capacities and knowledge to design achievable and practical anti-corruption reforms. This in turn leads to the generation of regionally owned initiatives.”

Designed to ultimately fast-track the implementation of the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument – the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) – the platform for West and Sahel Africa joins others already established in East Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and Mexico, as well as the Western Balkans. Implementation of the regional platform approach in these regions was successful enough that the methodology was recognized by States parties to the Convention through the adoption of a specific resolution last December.

This latest platform is to assist Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal in identifying knowledge gaps and good practices and fostering collaboration with entities in the region to tackle common challenges. Understanding that corruption, money laundering and financial crime are shared security threats, the platform is also designed to deepen regional cooperation and strengthen collective response to these threats.

Addressing the high-level segment of the platform’s launch, Senegal’s justice minister Ismaïla Madior Fall told attendees that “materially, the fight against corruption is not an easy path, it requires a change in behaviour, a political commitment. The UNCAC is the basis for these international efforts, which must be our common goal.”

Coulibaly Siaka, UN Resident Coordinator in Senegal, heralded the importance of civil society organizations being represented at the meeting and called regional cooperation “essential to provide a united front and a strong response to the threat of corruption in our respective countries”.

This sixth platform is focused on four thematic areas identified by the countries themselves as regional priorities. These are financial investigations, whistle-blower protection, integrity systems and asset recovery. They were discussed by the participating countries over the first two days of the platform’s launch, in order to agree on a programme of work and activities for the coming years. Today, these recommendations were presented to a panel of donors, high-level policymakers, civil society and private sector representatives who will agree on a set of commitments and recommendations to be taken forward as the roadmap of the regional platform.

Cherrie-Anne Vincent, chief of staff at the UN’s Office for West Africa and the Sahel, commented that “preventing and combating corruption can only be achieved by combining regional efforts and sharing best practices. Based on this progress, we have absolutely no doubts that the work undertaken by technical experts will lead to the adoption of a comprehensive document that will guide the platform.”

Source: National News Agency