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OAS SECRETARY GENERAL URGES STATES TO DECISIVELY COMBAT CORRUPTION TO DEFEND DEMOCRACY IN THE HEMISPHERE
Source: OAS Press
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today called on the countries of the region to stand strong against the scourge of corruption and said that "governments and public authorities have the obligation and the legal mandate to be accountable for their actions and citizens have the right to demand detailed accounts of them." The OAS leader said that this "requires, of course, strong institutions and clear rules, because an issue as sensitive as corruption can always be used by demagogues to harm democracy. To clearly define to whom one is responsible and to whom one is accountable is a central element in this task."
Secretary General Insulza said, during the opening session of the Twenty-Fifth Session of the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) at the headquarters of the hemispheric Organization in Washington, DC, that there is clarity about "in which areas transparency and accountability need to be strengthened based on strong institutions." In this regard, he expressed his belief "that our governments are making efforts to address this responsibility" but warned that "if we are to actually strengthen democracy in our Hemisphere, the crucial problem of corruption and the improper influence of money in politics must be addressed much more decisively."
The Secretary General recalled, however, that "we know the state is not the only place where corruption can take place because the private sector is also a source of, a stage for and a victim of it, as shown by corporate scandals in recent years in our region and beyond."
In his speech, Secretary General Insulza said that allegations of corruption have increased the separation and distrust of citizens toward politics and at the same time, have weakened democratic systems. "Improper partnerships between money and politics can become established in both large states with a dominant presence as a direct producer of goods and services in national economies, and smaller states, which grant concessions and allocate resources to the private sector," he said.
In addition, Insulza also indicated which legal mechanisms must be used to deal with the scourge of corruption. "It must be fought with laws and regulations that provide an adequate response to the need to separate money from politics; that govern lobbies; that limit campaign spending and make funding of political campaigns transparent; that establish the requirement for the declaration of the income, property and interests of public servants; and that also allow for transparency in government procurement systems," he said. "Without such elements there is always the possibility that public officials at any level and branch of government can become subject to the pressures and the influence of money," he added.
Secretary General Insulza said that in general, the key to tackling corruption is transparency. "A democratic government, to be effective, must be constantly willing to control and to apply sanctions. Governments and public authorities have the obligation and the legal mandate to be accountable for their actions and citizens have the right to demand detailed accounts of them. This requires, of course, strong institutions and clear rules,” he said.
Regarding the OAS efforts to support member states, he recalled that in the ten years that he has been in charge of the OAS General Secretariat, the number of States Parties to the MESICIC has risen to 31, and, simultaneously, great efforts have been made to provide member countries with more solid legal and institutional frameworks to prevent and combat corruption. The goal, he said, is to "engage in this task, which is not only the responsibility of authorities, but also of civil society, the private sector and the general public."
Secretary General Insulza said that during the three rounds of analysis of MESICIC that have already been completed and to this point in the fourth, the Committee has adopted more than 100 country reports, in which they have made specific recommendations that have served as a basis for States Parties to take measures for their implementation. "These measures range from issuing laws and legal rules, to the processing of legislative initiatives and conducting training, capacity building and international cooperation, to the implementation of technological tools," he said. "All these measures have been documented in three hemispheric reports and two progress reports adopted by the Committee. We expect approval of the Fourth Hemispheric Report on this occasion, in addition to the last five country reports to conclude this round, "he added.
The Secretary General of the OAS said the States Parties have also benefited from the Action Plans to implement the recommendations of the MESICIC, as well as two model laws adopted first by the Committee and then by the General Assembly of the OAS , which served as the basis for the adoption of legislation in several member states: the "Model Law on declaration of interests, income, assets and liabilities of those who perform public functions" and the "Model Law to facilitate and encourage the reporting of acts of corruption and protect their complainants and witnesses".
Finally, Secretary General Insulza said that during the fourth round the first on-site visits to States Parties were held, which, he stressed, has expanded the opportunity to involve civil society in accordance with the methodology agreed by the Committee for that purpose. "This has allowed for the participation of non-governmental organizations and the private business sector, as well as academics and researchers who have contributed useful information for the analysis and formulation of recommendations contained in the reports," he added. The Twenty-Fifth Session of the MESICIC of the OAS will be held until Friday, March 20 at the headquarters of the hemispheric institution.
For more information on the MESICIC, please visit the Anti-Corruption Portal of the Americas.
Edition N° 221 - March 2015
The Mechanism For Follow-up on the
Implementation of the Inter-American
Convention against Corruption, known as MESICIC for its Spanish acronym, is a tool to
support the development of the Inter-American
Convention against Corruption through
cooperation between States Parties.
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