by Kelly McCarthy
Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2011. In doing so, it committed itself to stamping out corruption both at home and overseas and to subject itself to periodic peer-reviews of its efforts in tackling the problem. Ireland will undergo the second peer-review of its enforcement of the UNCAC later this year, by two other states who are party to the Convention.
With over 180 states parties around the world, and its comprehensive Review Mechanism, the UNCAC has changed the political discourse on corruption and proved itself a powerful global instrument. One of its greatest challenges, however, has been to ensure that civil society can fulfil its fundamental role in monitoring and contributing to UNCAC implementation, by shining a light when UNCAC provisions are overlooked -- including money laundering, whistleblower protection and bank secrecy provisions -- and holding governments accountable in these instances.
In the negotiations for the UNCAC review mechanism, a group of countries successfully blocked the inclusion of transparency and participation elements. Consequently, the guidelines leave it at the discretion of countries to individually decide on the extent of participation and transparency in their country reviews.
By signing the Transparency Pledge, governments will adhere to its six principles relating to transparency and participation in the review mechanism. Governments will commit to: publishing a review schedule; sharing information about the review process; announcing the completion of the review; posting online its own self-assessment; organising public briefings and debates about findings of the review; and supporting the participation of civil society in UNCAC subsidiary bodies.
The Transparency Pledge was developed by the UNCAC Coalition, a network of civil society organisations around the world, with Transparency International as its Secretariat, that is dedicated to promoting effective UNCAC implementation and monitoring. Eighteen countries have already signed the Pledge, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. If Ireland does likewise, it will send a message that it is prepared to take corruption as seriously as other developed economies, and help set an important reporting standard for another 160 countries around the world.
Kelly McCarthy is Adviser to the UNCAC Coalition