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The proclamation of December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day is a further recognition of the universal significance of this problem and of the need to strengthen the efforts to deal with this issue more effectively.
Within the OAS we should congratulate ourselves on having been pioneers in adopting the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the first international legal instrument on this issue, which opened up the way for the subsequent adoption of other treaties in the matter, such as those of the OECD, the Council of Europe, the African Union, and the United Nations.
Cooperation against corruption is related to several key topics on our common agenda. First of all, it is related to democratic governance. This has been confirmed by the Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted in 2001, which defines a series of elements, including transparency in government activities, probity, and accountability in the public administration on the part of governments, as essential components for the exercise of democracy. Second, it is related to social development. Studies have shown that the main victims of corruption are the poor. And, third, it is related to economic growth. Research has confirmed that countries with higher levels of corruption have lower rates of investment and economic growth.
The creation of the MESICIC, the Follow-up Mechanism for the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, has reaffirmed the commitment of our States in addressing this problem that does not distinguish borders or ideologies. Since the launch in 2002 of this cooperation mechanism, which is intergovernmental in nature but with broad opportunities for civil society participation, our countries have undergone a rigorous review on how they are complying with their obligations under the Convention and have benefited from recommendations and support programs that have enabled them to strengthen their legal and institutional frameworks for tackling corruption more effectively.
We have good reason to believe in the usefulness of what we have been doing. The hemispheric and progress reports adopted by the MESICIC this year shows obvious progress by the States in their legal and institutional frameworks in areas such as the prevention of conflicts of interest, access to public information, government procurement, statements of net worth of public servants, the protection of corruption whistleblowers, and international assistance and cooperation for the prosecution of perpetrators of acts of corruption.
We are making progress but, of course, actions to address a problem as complex as that of corruption do not have an end. Our collective action in this matter must be understood as an ongoing process that requires many actions at different levels and with different orientations.
We are convinced that it is not just States and their authorities that are responsible for tackling corruption; instead, it is a task which should also involve the private sector, civil society and the international community as a whole.
The States have agreed that starting in 2012, the MESICIC will comprehensively evaluate the oversight bodies in our countries, and for the first time for a hemispheric mechanism of this nature, to carry out on-site visits to verify the application of the Convention “in the field.” This decision undoubtedly represents a major leap forward in the commitment of our States to strengthen effective cooperation against corruption.
We at the OAS General Secretariat will continue to do our part and our countries can continue to count on our support so that their commitment to fight corruption, formalized with the adoption of the Convention and strengthened with the adoption of its follow-up mechanism (MESICIC), is increasingly more effective and increasingly more beneficial to its citizens.
Edition N° 78 - December 2011
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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