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The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today highlighted the successes and challenges of the countries of the continent in the fight against corruption, and remarked the relevant role of Parliaments in addressing this issue, during the inaugural session of the International Seminar on Probity and Transparency in the National Congress and the Political Parties System, held January 12 and 13 in the National Congress of Chile.
“We have gone in a few decades from identifying corruption with bribery, to expanding the concept in a substantive way. That is, we now debate issues such as the passive behavior of enterprises, the financing of politics, undue influence, corporate responsibility, and what has been called “gray areas,” that is: excessive hospitality, charitable contributions, gifts, and access to obtaining certain benefits from academic institutions,” said the leader of the hemispheric organization.
In his remarks, Secretary General Insulza acknowledged that, while there has been much progress on this matter, the International community lacks “a harmonization” of existing norms. “If the definition of corruption has been much expanded, as has the definition of transparency, we do not have an adequate harmonization of the many international norms that are being elaborated on this matter,” he noted.
Among the international norms, the head of the OAS recalled that the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, signed in 1996, represents the first international treaty on this matter. “The first international norms are in the Convention and that is for us a matter of great pride,” he said. “The Convention is one of the most ratified documents in all of the inter-American system and is the first that transforms the fight against corruption into a process, into a strategy with shared responsibilities between the States, the private sector, civil society, and the international community.”
In this sense, he mentioned the Follow-up Mechanism to the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) which, with the technical support of the OAS, makes it possible for countries to present reports on corruption, ask questions and for civil society to participate and present criticism, questions and objections. “The workings of the MESICIC should be a growing example since the Mechanism has been consolidated and with this we have moved to a greater phase,” said the Secretary General, and continued by recalling that “the follow-up work allows for cooperation between countries, transparency of information between them, and even to have a cooperation program so the countries may improve their situation.”
Referring specifically to the central subject of the Seminar, the Organization’s highest representative recalled that “in all activities we are conducting we have wished to highlight the fundamental role of the legislative powers in the implementation of our Convention. Our Committee of Experts has clearly stated that the legislative powers must adopt legal norms that complement the countries’ legal frameworks to make them applicable and increasingly more appropriate to the parliaments of each country,” he insisted.
The International Seminar on Probity and Transparency in the National Congress and in the Political Parties System has as its general objective to provide a place for analysis of the principles of probity and transparency that are applied to parliamentarians, as well as to the system that regulates political parties, from the National Congress itself.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here soon.For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.
Edition N° 80 - January 2012
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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