Can human rights be the antidote to corruption?
On Thursday, December 14th, Just Access participated in a side event to the 10th Conference of State Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), titled “Anti-Corruption & Human Rights: Exploring Synergies”. The event shed light on the pressing need to intertwine efforts against corruption and the promotion of human rights on an international scale for more effective outcomes.
A highlight of the event was the emphasis on Morocco’s role in addressing this challenge. As a leading voice in the discourse on human rights within the UN, Morocco’s experience is a great example to show the synergies between “Geneva and Vienna”, the respective hubs for human rights protection and anti-corruption efforts. Morocco proposed more closely to align the Universal Periodic Review process—the five-yearly review of each State’s implementation of its human rights obligations—with the Review Mechanism of the UNCAC. In common with the other panellists at the event, Just Access wholly supports Morocco’s proposal, which appears to be a promising and effective strategy for linking human rights advocacy with anti-corruption efforts.
The event underscored the importance of placing individuals at the forefront of the anti-corruption discourse, shifting the focus from duty bearers to the people affected by corruption. This shows a human rights-based approach premised on the idea that addressing corruption is not solely about enforcing laws or punishing wrongdoers, but also about upholding the rights of all individuals it detrimentally effects. Transparency International stressed the importance of mutual learning among different forums and advocated for using information from UN human rights bodies in anti-corruption processes (and vice versa) to address existing gaps.
Corruption not only undermines human rights but also impedes sustainable development by diverting funds meant for public services and distorting justice systems. Hence, adopting a human rights-based approach can complement anti-corruption efforts by emphasising principles, standards, and mechanisms for the protection of human rights. Moreover, promoting gender equality and integrating anti-corruption education into various disciplines, including human rights, emerged as crucial strategies to combat corruption effectively.
The CoSP10 side event provided invaluable insights into the interconnectedness of anti-corruption and human rights efforts, stressing the urgency of adopting a more holistic approach to tackle these challenges. It was clear that all speakers at the event were unanimous on the necessary actions that needed to be taken. Now, the focus shifts to implementing the suggestions, drawing from Morocco’s national experience and the practical recommendations from the other panellists.