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New UNDP Anti-Corruption Programme, ACPIS, Launched in Singapore

On 7 March 2017, UNDP launched its new four-year project with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) Australia, Anti-Corruption for Peaceful and Inclusive Societies in Asia-Pacific (2016-2020) (ACPIS). The launch took place at the UN Global Centre for Public Service Excellence (UN GCSPE) in Singapore. Ms Vanessa Chan, Director-General of Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Organisations Directorate and Mr Bruce Gosper Australian High Commissioner to Singapore helped to launch the new project.

· Click here for The Straits Times article on the ACPIS Launch.
· Click here for ACPIS project documents.
· Click here to see UNDP Country Office projects under ACPIS.

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Corruption remains one of the most significant problems in Kosovo


Corruption remains one of the most significant problems facing Kosovo today, argues the special edition of the Public Pulse on corruption released on 24 October.

The present Public Pulse on Corruption, focuses its analysis on perceptions of citizens of Kosovo on the prevalence of corruption, with particular emphasis on Kosovo public institutions on both central and local level.

Data collected through a general population survey with 1300 respondents and 500 targeted interviews with representatives of Kosovo public institutions from all management levels show that 18 percent of interviewed citizens perceive corruption as the most pressing issue. This percentage puts corruption as the second largest problem, trailing only unemployment which is perceived by 39 percent of the respondents as the most pressing issue.

In addition, this research also includes validation data from four thematic focus groups, namely focus groups with representatives of central level institutions, local level institutions, civil society and a focus group with gender activists dedicated to comparison of data with the UNDP survey on Gender and Corruption carried out in 2014.


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An effective e-declaration system will be a watershed for the country

BY MARCUS BRAND, UNDP Democratic Governance Advisor

Two-and-a-half years ago, one of the core demands of the Euro-Maidan protests was curbing corruption. In 2014, the new reform government chose the fight against corruption as one of its strategic priorities.

At that pivotal moment, UNDP was honoured and proud to stand by Ukraine’s drivers of reform.  Globally, in all the 140 or more countries where the United Nations Development Programme has its presence, we are working hand in hand with governments to help them solve issues and challenges that lead to effective democratic governance.

This time with the backing of the Government of Denmark, UNDP in Ukraine was able to render expert advice and financial assistance to help implement the reforms that were being charted out.

A new Anti-Corruption Strategy was adopted an enshrined in legislation that included the creation of a number of new institutions and mechanisms. Among the new anti-corruption tools UNDP was asked to help nurture, was the electronic asset declaration system.

The ambition of Ukrainian legislators at the time was to achieve a qualitative difference to earlier, largely ineffective anti-corruption tools and institutions. For such instruments to enjoy the trust and confidence of the wider public, they would have to significantly advance from earlier attempts that had been found to contain numerous loopholes and were largely considered ineffective.

In order for Ukraine’s new anti-corruption measures to gain the trust of both the population and its key international partners, they would have to be serious, ambitious and effective. Asset declarations are an integral component of corruption prevention and conflict-of-interest systems around the world, and they are enshrined as such in the UN Convention Against Corruption.

According to World Bank studies, 8 out of 10 high-income countries have already allowed public access to data contained in civil servants’ asset declarations. 60% of countries that have rendered such information open are also disclosing declared assets for officials’ spouses or life partners. In 85% of countries where an asset declaration system is in place for heads of state, ministers as well as rank and file civil servants, officials are also openly disclosing information on movable assets and cash savings.

In September 2015, the Government of Ukraine appealed to UNDP with a request to provide technical and financial support in developing an electronic asset declaration software in line with the new legislative requirements. As the National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) had not been established by that time, the Ministry of Justice served as the lead agency for the Government of Ukraine in this matter.

UNDP subsequently ran an open and competitive tender for these works and fulfilled the request as asked, fully involving the newly-created NACP in all procedural steps; on 27 July, a software system for filing, publishing and storing officials’ declarations—fully functional and fully tested to be in line with Ukrainian legislation and the NACP’s own regulations—was transferred to the NACP as the system’s rightful Ukrainian owner.

Global experience shows that introducing paradigm shifts that suddenly and fundamentally change entrenched patterns of corruption, collusion and abuse of state power is fraught with challenges and bound to meet obstacles. The preparation and launch of Ukraine’s electronic declaration system is one of many examples for that.

Obviously, there are many who would rather not allow the public to know about their assets, and not always for legitimate reasons. And yet for public institutions and officials to regain genuine trust and to rebuild the social contract between the state and the people it may be essential to redraw the rules of the game.

Indeed, for anyone with control and influence over budget funds – which are to serve the general public rather than private interests – it is necessary to accept a degree of public oversight that must be balanced with their right to privacy.

It should also be said that the responsibility to prevent and fight corruption does not only lie with state officials, many of whom are expected to make do with meagre salaries and little prospect of raising their standards of living. Rather, what is now expected of state employees must set new standards of propriety and integrity all across society, one that is based on fair rules applicable to all rather than favours accessible to a few.

Ukraine now has a new asset declaration system that is far from perfect, bit it is still a huge improvement to the old paper-based system. The system in place has been fully in the hands of government bodies and has received all required technical and legal approvals.

As UNDP had contributed key elements of an earlier version of the software, we have been following the recent developments with great interest and some concern. Over the past weeks, it has become clear that there are significant differences between the original product delivered to NACP by UNDP and the currently operational software system. Some observers have even suggested that the currently operational online asset declaration forms may not be fully in line with the NACP’s own regulations and the Law of Ukraine “On Preventing Corruption”. We believe that there is still time for such inconsistencies to be addressed, if the system is to be considered robust and trustworthy.

Another cause for concern is that currently—two weeks prior to the submission deadline—only about 10% of the declarants have filed their online declarations. We are unsure whether this is due to lack of awareness of hesitation, but we expect that a massive last-minute run on the system could lead to a technical overload that would go beyond its current capabilities and therefore encourage all prospective declarants to submit their entries as soon as possible.

UNDP believes that the effective functioning of an e-declaration system, a cornerstone of Ukraine’s anti-corruption reforms, will be a watershed for the country. Ukraine’s international friends and partners rightly encourage it to take this decisive step towards better governance. UNDP has reconfirmed its readiness to assist national counterparts in translating commitments into realities, including by tackling the existing challenges with regard to the electronic declaration regime.

Despite the setbacks to be expected along the road, an effective asset declaration system that enjoys the trust of the Ukrainian people will be built, and it will allow Ukraine to move into a new era where corruption is an exception rather than the rule, and where public officials and civil servants are respected for serving the general public, rather than their own personal interests.

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Anti-corruption justice and collaboration in Kosovo: Challenges and recommendations


The author, Sheelagh Brady, is a Senior Security Analyst at SAR Consultancy and has also written the background report to the U4 workshop “Strengthening the role of the Kosovar justice sector in fighting corruption” hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Kosovo Judicial Institute, in Prishtina on 23-24 May this year.

Based on the background research and the workshop, the author identifies three key obstacles that if addressed may have a significant positive impact on interagency collaboration and thereby also the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases in Kosovo: insufficient coordination mechanisms, incoherent institutional design, and lack of trust and incentives to collaborate. To further recent progress in interagency collaboration and to ensure that a higher number of investigations and prosecutions are translated into convictions, strategic action would include:

First, to re-establish a coordination mechanism.

Secondly, to review the mandate of the ACA.

Third, to instill collaboration as a matter of routine.

Link to the publication here:


Empowered citizens: changing the landscape of local governance in Nepal

This blog is part of a series on how open government can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The series came out of a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangkok Regional Hub and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to find practical examples of how open government is helping countries achieve the SDGs in the Asia-Pacific region. For more details on the competition, the blog series, and how open government can help achieve the SDGs, please see our introductory blog post.

In an informal conversation with a local political leader from a village in the western part of Nepal, I asked a question. “How is the Village Development Committee (VDC) utilizing the allocated budget for women’s empowerment?” He smiled mildly and said, “There’s nothing to spend on for women’s empowerment, so we used last year’s budget to upgrade the main gravel road in the village.” I embarked on this probing inquiry with the knowledge that the condition of women in this village was very poor, and the portion of the budget meant for their use was being used to upgrade the road. His reply was surprising, as he argued that the women of the village also used this road so it was to their benefit too.

In Nepal, the budget planning process is supposed to follow 14 steps, from the sub-national to the central government level. In principle, it is actually meant to begin from the lowest administrative unit, the ward, collecting feedback from the people on their needs, and going up to the central level, so that the collective inputs can take shape in the form of the annual budget and programme. Despite its beauty in principle, the process is often hijacked by a handful of elites, to further their vested interests in the budget. When it comes to the implementation of this bottom-up budget planning process, it is frequently manipulated, as in the abovementioned case. The problem is further compounded by the general tendency of citizens to not challenge unresponsive and unaccountable local services. Although the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accords formally ended the decade-long conflict and were meant to pave the path for peace and development – community-level tensions persist and are further exacerbated by such disenfranchisement and marginalization of community groups from the development planning process.