Media Center

Press Release


  April 19, 2004

Foreign Affairs Minister Patricio Zuquilanda of Ecuador said today that because it stymies development, corruption must be combated in the public sector and the private sector through intensified hemispheric cooperation. He urged renewed effort to bolster cooperation to ensure that corrupt individuals, those who corrupt them, and their property find no refuge anywhere.

Addressing the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Permanent Council, convened in special session in his honor, Foreign Minister Zuquilanda conceded that while the Inter-American Convention against Corruption is, “without question a most important hemispheric initiative to fight this scourge,” it is not an end in itself but rather an important first step in tackling “a problem that threatens social development and development as a whole for our peoples.”

The Ecuadorian dignitary pointed to the need for a “code of conduct” that would be based on the determination by all segments of society as well as by the international community to adopt common ethical and moral values. He renewed the call for all nations to step up their war on corruption, which will be the featured topic at the OAS General Assembly session in Quito, Ecuador, next June. The Minister said the upcoming General Assembly will “emphasize the need to more resolutely promote democratic culture by combating corruption.”

He also stressed the need for those nations that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention on Extradition.

Zuquilanda recalled the Declaration of Margarita, issued after the High-Level Meeting on Poverty, Equity and Social Inclusion in Venezuela last October, noting how it emphasized good governance, transparency and accountability.

The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister cited as well the recent Declaration of Nuevo Leon in which the hemisphere’s heads of state and government underscored the goals of economic growth with equity to combat poverty; social development; and democratic governance. He recalled the leaders’ specific mandates to fight corruption, as it “distorts the allocation of resources for development and gradually erodes the democratic fabric of our societies.”

The Minister noted how commitments arising from the Summits of the Americas process have paved the way for specific action and mandates as well as principles articulated in basic declarations, including the Inter-American Democratic Charter. He said the Democratic Charter identifies the rights and obligations involved in building society for the exercise of democracy on the basis of transparent government, ethics in the public sector, civil rights and respect for freedom of expression and press freedom.

On the matter of public participation, Zuquilanda referred to the invitation to a variety of civil society interests around the Americas to put forth suggestions and recommendations that would be duly considered in the preparation of the OAS General Assembly.

In leading the meeting, the Permanent Council’s Chairman, Ambassador Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas of Mexico, hailed the Foreign Minister and his government for proposing corruption as the main topic for the dialogue of heads of delegation for the Ecuador General Assembly. After his address, the Foreign Minister personally greeted the member state representatives in the Permanent Council.

Reference: E-061/04