The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime condemns exclusion of eight organizations from Conference of the States Parties to UN Convention against Corruption.

The 9th Conference of the States Parties (COSP) to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), taking place from 13 to 17 December in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, has excluded eight anti-corruption civil society organizations from participating. The government of Turkey objected to these organizations’ participation without providing evidence to support their objections.

Although a number of delegations opposed Turkey’s position, they did not force the issue to a vote when it was discussed on 15 December.  They instead deferred a decision until the next COSP in two years time, meaning that these organizations cannot participate in the meeting.

The role of civil society in strengthening efforts to counter corruption and organized crime is vital. Not only does this exclusion damage the organizations concerned but it also undermines the COSP’s efforts to prevent and counter corruption, damaging its own credibility.

Civil society organizations working to expose corruption and counter organized crime face threats from those whose power they challenge at the local and national levels. Turkey’s public accusations against these organizations (none of which are based in the country) are a worrying form of transnational threat and intimidation.

The UN meeting has provided a platform to amplify these threats and has capitulated to Turkey’s demands. We call on all states parties to rethink this outcome before the conference closes on 17 December. If this decision stands, the COSP in Sharm el-Sheikh will be remembered as a new low in the international community’s efforts to prevent and counter organized crime and corruption.

We support the leading role played by the UNCAC Coalition and Transparency International in advocating for and coordinating civil society at the COSP, and endorse their stance on this issue.