UN: Convention against Corruption signatories must tackle environmental crimes

UN: Convention against Corruption signatories must tackle environmental crimes - Transparency

An area of deforestation on the border of the Amazon rainforest burned down to produce charcoal and to grow soybeans or raise cattle. The Ministry of Labour's grupo movel (mobile unit), who work to end the use of unfree labour in the region, are developing a pioneering activity to assign responsibility for the slavery cases reported on such farms to the pig iron producing companies, as the charcoal is made to be sold exclusively to these extremely profitable companies.

ARTICLE 19 joined over 300 other signatories in calling for States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to adopt a resolution at the 10th UNCAC Conference of the States Parties (CoSP10) to prevent and combat corruption, and the environmental crimes corruption facilitates, as a crucial way to protect the environment, tackle the climate crisis and uphold human rights. Read the letter below, and view all signatories by viewing the letter as a PDF using the button at the bottom of this page.

Open letter to UNCAC States Parties Calling for a Strong Resolution at CoSP10 to Prevent and Combat Environmental Crime and Corruption

3 November 2023

Dear United States Delegation, President of the 10th UNCAC CoSP,
Dear Delegates to the States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption,

We, 301 civil society organisations and experts from 99 countries around the globe, urge States Parties to adopt a resolution at the 10th UNCAC CoSP10 to prevent and combat corruption and the environmental crimes it facilitates as a crucial way to protect the environment, tackle the climate crisis and uphold human rights.

Corruption has a seismic impact on the environment and the climate. It enables crimes across complex supply chains that exploit wildlife, forests, fisheries and other natural resources and species. It is often linked to serious criminal networks that rely on corruption at every step of their global supply chain. It creates incentives to degrade nature, leading to the conversion and degradation of land and the building of infrastructure in biodiversity-rich zones. Corruption is undermining efforts to address climate change at a time when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that human-induced climate change has ‘resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world’.

Environmental crime and corruption negatively impacts human rights and impedes efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. It robs some of the world’s poorest countries of revenues and resources and promotes a culture of violence towards communities, threatening the rule of law, public health and security. Land, environmental and Indigenous defenders, whistleblowers, journalists, and other members of civil society face significant threats, attacks and killings in carrying out their work to expose environmental crime and corruption, often in a culture of impunity.

As the only legally binding anti-corruption instrument, the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is among the best tools available to prevent and fight the corruption that enables environmental crime and other environmental harms and its significant negative impacts on both people and nature. Building on UNCAC CoSP Resolution 8/12 (adopted in 2019), we call on UNCAC State Parties to adopt a strong resolution to bolster the implementation of the UNCAC to tackle environmental crime and corruption and its impacts. Such a resolution should call for the following actions:

  1. Strengthen and more effectively implement anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and environmental protection laws across the value chain in the environmental sector and hold those accountable that are responsible for perpetuating environmental crimes and corruption, including companies and their representatives.
  2. Strengthen transparency, integrity and accountability for awarding, granting, and managing contracts, concessions, permits and licences in the natural resource sector. Create public, central beneficial ownership registers which include adequate, accurate and up-to-date data that is freely accessible and can be used by relevant stakeholders, as well as accountability frameworks, including conflicts of interest policies, political financing rules, and lobbying transparency.
  3. Ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations and other actors working to expose environmental crime and corruption consistent with Article 13 of the UNCAC, including protection for whistleblowers, proactively engaging Indigenous Peoples and local communities and putting measures in place to routinely monitor threats facing civil society.
  4. Promote good governance and anti-corruption measures to achieve climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation goals and in the proper management and use of climate finance funds and other finance mechanisms to protect the environment and biological diversity.
  5. Promote greater coordination and cooperation with other relevant international fora and implementing agencies, in order to maximise impact in tackling environmental crime and corruption and to enhance understanding of how to address it, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Human Rights Council, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the Financial Action Task Force.

As we commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the UNCAC’s creation, we urge you to take strong actions at CoSP10 to ensure that the UNCAC is utlilised to its full extent to tackle one of the most pressing global challenges facing our planet and its people.

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