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UNCAC Pilot Review Programme - Report on Austria

UNODC logoThe United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), negotiated at the UN in Vienna, was ratified by Austria on 11 January 2006 .

The Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) to this convention, held in December 2006, decided to launch a pilot project in which Austria was involved. The UNCAC is the first comprehensive legal instrument which is applicable worldwide and thus considered as a cornerstone in the international fight against corruption.

It provides, inter alia, for the establishment of a CoSP to be held every two years. The first conference took place in Jordan in December 2006, the second in Indonesia in January 2008, and the third in November 2009 in Qatar. The conference aims to contribute to the achievement of the objectives set out in the Convention, the improvement of the cooperation between the States Parties, and the promotion and review of the implementation of the convention. The negotiations on the concept and characteristics of an appropriate mechanism to support the implementation of the UNCAC turned out to be particularly problematic and tedious.

At the second CoSP, it was agreed to establish an intergovernmental expert working group and to launch a pilot project ("pilot review programme”). The aim of this project was to test different methods of establishing an efficient review mechanism for the implementation of the UNCAC by the States Parties.The pilot phase started in August 2007 with 16 countries voluntarily participating. Austria has, together with other European countries, pro-actively taken part in the programme from the very beginning. Within the framework of this pilot project, the participating States Parties reviewed the implementation of selected articles of the Convention and communicated the first results to the second CoSP. Unfortunately, the delegates to this Conference could not agree on the final form of a review mechanism, and so it was decided to expand the project.

In May 2008, 13 additional States Parties joined this ambitious project which was then representing 29 countries from four continents.In the course of the test phase, the majority of the reviewing and reviewed parties came to the conclusion that on-site visits would substantially contribute to the results of detailed analyses, in particular of those concerning the practical implementation and application of legal provisions. Furthermore, the process showed that cooperation and coordination are essential elements in the fight against corruption and that an active dialogue with all relevant stakeholders is of crucial importance for improving and enhancing the exchange of e.g. best practices.The States Parties involved in the project have gathered a lot of positive experience and knowledge. In order to incorporate this experience in the third CoSP in Qatar and in its decision-making process concerning the review mechanism, the "pilot group” agreed to conclude the project by November 2009.

In the framework of the pilot project, Austria was evaluated by experts from Finland and Romania at the end of 2007. Due to the relatively short time period before the second Conference, the assessment was mainly based on a self-assessment checklist as well as on an additional desk review. The subsequently compiled country report on Austria fragmentarily reflects the (legal) situation in the year 2007.As was recommended by the "pilot group”, the country reports of the project shall be publicized by the States Parties reviewed. According to the purpose of this project, i.e. to test methods to define and implement a review mechanism, these reports present a possible first approach of "evaluation in the UN context”.

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