17 Dec 2021
Access available online for registered participants to the conference.
Posted on 13 Dec 2021
During the 9th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption this week, hosted by Egypt, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime will lobby for a more joined-up approach to fighting organized crime and corruption.
The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted 18 years ago, three years after the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Both conventions share a common genesis. It was agreed during the negotiations to the UNTOC that a new convention specifically focused on the threat and impact of corruption would be needed. After all, organized crime and corruption are closely intertwined, and can be seen as two sides of the same coin: together, they pose a serious and ongoing threat to peace and security, sustainable development and justice.
However, despite the existence of both conventions, and the manifest links between transnational organized crime and corruption that have become apparent in the two decades since they were both adopted, organized crime and corruption have continued to flourish and diversify. Today, 20 years on since the signing into being of the conventions, the challenges that organized crime and corruption pose are clearly increasing. In March 2021, a GI-TOC report assessing the trajectories of the global illicit economy over the last two decades finds that illicit markets have thrived and grown since around the start of the new millennium, and the Global Organized Crime Index 2021 highlights the predominant role played by state actors as facilitators of organized crime and corruption around the world.
The implications of such findings are serious. At the Conference of States Parties, the GI-TOC will emphasise the need for more concerted efforts to address at the multilateral level organized crime and corruption as parallel threats. Despite their shared origins, objectives and structure, there is little interaction between the Conferences of UNTOC and UNCAC, or indeed between them and the wider UN system. In its research work, the GI-TOC has continued to explore these issues, most recently on a report on the multilateral response to organized crime and corruption.
Lack of space for civil society
As the GI-TOC has repeatedly voiced in its work, it is also concerning that the space for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to engage with and influence these multilateral processes is highly restricted. And this is despite the crucial role that civil society as a whole plays in building resilience to organized crime in communities around the world. NGOs are not permitted to attend any of the subsidiary bodies of the UNTOC or UNCAC Conferences, meaning technical discussions on implementation of the conventions take place behind closed doors, without the input of civil society’s expertise, and without scrutiny or accountability. This position needs to be challenged.
There is growing international interest in reinvigorating efforts against both organized crime and corruption. Such momentum, for example, has been evident this year under the Italian presidency of the G20 and its Anti-Corruption Working Group, and has also been a priority for the US president’s Summit for Democracy.
A more joined-up approach is needed to fight organized crime and corruption. A strong focus on preventing and tackling corruption will be part of the GI-TOC’s holistic efforts to develop the building blocks of a global strategy against organized crime. GI-TOC is carrying out further research, analysis and engagement on organized crime and corruption and how to respond effectively.
The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime is a registered civil society observer to the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption. The director of the GI-TOC will deliver a statement at the conference, and our team will be participating throughout. We have co-organized, with Transparency International and the governments of Italy and Mexico, a special event exploring the links between organized crime and corruption. The event will be held on Friday 17 December at 12:30 Egypt time (GMT+2), in person and online for registered participants to the conference. See here.
Together with Transparency International, GI-TOC has submitted a written statement to the Conference making recommendations to address these issues, which is available here.