The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) was recently selected by peer organisations as the secretariat for Africa's new civil society network on corruption.
The network is the first effort by African civil society to address corruption at the continental level. Although the UN Convention Against Corruption Coalition has a presence in Africa, the network is the first locally-driven initiative of its kind.
'Although it's still in the formative stage, the network has tremendous potential' said Stefan Gilbert, senior researcher and leader of the initiative for the ISS.
With encouragement from the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC), the ISS hosted a workshop from 18-19 February in Pretoria to discuss how civil society can more effectively support anti-corruption efforts.
Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the AU's Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Although 48 AU member states have signed the Convention and 34 have ratified, corruption still plagues the continent, undermining good governance and development. And as corruption evolves in the globalised environment, so too must traditional tools for combatting it.
'Corruption works on a global level and so tackling it nationally or regionally is not enough. The need for international networks has never been greater', explains Gilbert.
Together with initiatives by the AU Commission's Department of Political Affairs, the AUABC's efforts to establish a network of governmental anti-corruption bodies can now be supported by African civil society.
Thirteen organisations participated in the February meeting, including the African Governance Institute, the Centre for Citizens' Participation on the African Union, the African Media Initiative, and the Tax Justice Network. Development partners and regional governmental stakeholders also attended.
As the secretariat, ISS will work with the network's Advisory Group to establish a viable foothold on the continent.
Priorities are to support the implementation of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, coordinate the formulation of a continent-wide position and strategy on corruption, facilitate sharing of national and regional work, and promote innovative approaches to preventing and combating corruption.
Once the internal governance structures are in place and the network is up and running, a public launch is planned to coincide with International Corruption Day on 9 December 2014.