What do youth expect from Sharm El-Sheikh’s upcoming UN anti-corruption conference?

Reem Abdulkader, Friday 3 Dec 2021

“I expect the [Sharm El-Sheikh’s] UN conference to be at a very high-level, due to the preparations and great efforts that we have witnessed during its simulation model in Cairo,” Mostafa Hany, a second year business student, told Ahram Online.

Egyptian youth participating in the Administrative Control Authority s (ACA) November simulation conference of the ninths session of the Conference of State Parties (CoSP) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh on 13 December. (Photo: ACA)

Hany, 20, was talking about the ninth session of the Conference of State Parties (CoSP) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) that is scheduled to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh from 13 to 17 December.

Though it is quite unusual for someone from his demographic to be interested in an event of this kind, Hany had a good reason for being among 140 Cairo University students who had the opportunity to partake in a simulation of the anticipated conference, held in Cairo on 16 November.

The simulation, which was organized by Egypt’s Administrative Control Authority (ACA), was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“I believe that if someone were to see these efforts, they would rest assured that this conference is going to be a great success and will have practical and implementable outputs,” he said.

The UNCAC is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument.

The CoSP is considered to be the main policymaking body of the UNCAC. It was established in accordance with Article 63 of the convention and meets every two years, with the possibility of special sessions in between, to track and improve the implementation of the convention and adopt resolutions to further its mandate.

Hosting an anti-corruption conference is not a precedent in Egypt, which had previously hosted the ACA-sponsored African Anti-Corruption Forum (AAFC) – the first anti-corruption forum in the continent.

Bringing together top state officials and representatives from 48 African countries, four Arab nations and nine international organisations, the forum discussed African countries' regional and national efforts in accordance with their international and regional commitments in fighting corruption.

“The resolutions I wish for the [Sharm El-Sheikh] conference will not happen overnight,” Hana Hamed, a participant in the simulation conference, said.

“They are rather a collection of steps and actions that must be taken at a certain pace to achieve something real on the ground. Waiting for concrete resolutions from the UN conference is not the goal, but rather exchanging experiences and finding new ways to take baby steps towards effecting big change.”

While the eighth session of the CoSP took place in December 2019 in Abu Dhabi, the first session was held in Amman in 2006 after the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention against Corruption Resolution 58/4 of 31 October 2003. The UNCAC came into force in December 2005.

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan stated at the time that the convention was established after long negotiations that included many complex matters and concerns related to different countries, and that the consensus of most countries on the text of the convention in under two years was a major challenge.

The agenda for the ninth session will include a review of the implementation of the UNCAC, prevention, provisional agenda for the 10th session, and adoption of the report.

The convention, which has been signed by 188 countries in August 2021, comprises eight chapters and 71 articles. It covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalisation and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange. The convention also covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi launched the second phase of the national strategy 2019/2022 to fight corruption in 2018 which includes the provision of digitised high-quality public services.

Mohamed Minisy, a fifth-year medical student, expressed his enthusiasm over the government’s efforts to fully digitise Egypt, saying that if all state parties followed Egypt’s lead, with the proper execution and supervision, it would be a notable milestone in the anti-corruption field.

“I also expect countries that haven’t been fully implementing the convention within an appropriate framework to be able to come up with resolutions during this conference that will help them in this process,” said Malak Morgan, a participant in the model.

Being the first model of its kind in the MENA region, it simulated the actual UN conference in many aspects, including the VIP attendees, such as Hassan Abdel-Shafi Ahmed, the chair of the ACA, and professor Mohamed El-khosht, president of Cairo University.

The opportunity to meet and converse with top-tier figures allowed the students to form expectations of their own regarding the future of Egypt in fighting corruption.

“All the officials working in the anti-corruption field in Egypt are very qualified, so I think Egypt is on a really good path,” said Hamed.

“We have a solid plan and strategies that we update every two or three years, we are moving forward. The figures show we have made achievements despite the obstacles we have faced, such as Covid-19,” Hamed said.

Minisy shared the same sentiment, saying that he wholeheartedly believes that Egypt is moving on the right path, but that it might be a bit slow, because it takes time to change people’s mindset.

The ninth session will review the implementation of the UNCAC, improved international cooperation to better tackle corruption, and asset recovery.

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