Madrid, 15 July 2020 – Access Info Europe has called for the right of access to information to be treated as priority during the first UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) against corruption, to be held in April 2021 in New York.
In its submission to preparation of the UNGASS, Access Info recalls that the United Nations Convention against Corruption UNCAC establishes that States Party should establish specific mechanisms to implement the right of information.
“To end corruption it is not enough to prosecute the corrupt once the crime has been committed. It is essential to work to prevent corrupt behaviours, and this can only be done with transparency and access to information,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
Access Info, as a newly elected member of the UNCAC Coalition Board, has identified six transparency priorities, all referenced in the Convention, which it urges be included in the final UNGASS Political Declaration:
- Adopt full access to information laws that comply with international standards, including by applying to all branches of government, and to all bodies, private or public, which perform public functions and/or operate with public funds.
- Establish an independent body such as an Information Commissioner to oversee implementation of the access to information law, to monitor compliance, and to hear complaints against public bodies that have refused to release information.
- Proactively publish information needed to fight corruption, including data on the employment of public officials, conflict of interests, complete public sector budget and spending data, and election campaign financing.
- Make public procurement data transparent, something that has particular relevance at the present moment given the issues seen with emergency procurement during the covid-19 pandemic, something Access Info has made a series of Ten recommendations on.
- Open company and beneficial ownership registers, widely recognised as a key been recognised as a key anti-corruption instrument and something that many States Party to the UNCAC have not yet done.
- Ensure lobby transparency to prevent corruption in decision making and public procurement, in line with the International Lobby Regulation Standards.
“If we are to ensure that we reduce corruption and increase the efficiency in the spending of public funds during the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with the financial crisis that it has caused putting a strain on resources, then ensuring that states fully implement the UNCAC has to be top priority,” concluded Darbishire.
Cover picture: UN Headquarters in New York, via UNCAC Coalition website.