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In 2013 Transparency International will publish its National Integrity System (NIS) assessment on Curaçao. The Caribbean island has a population of 150,560 and is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has gone through significant political change in recent years following dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010 and the resulting modification of its country status.
Corruption is rarely an isolated phenomenon found only within a specific institution, sector or group of actors. It is usually of a systemic nature and fighting it requires a holistic and all-encompassing strategy. This is why Transparency International developed the concept of National Integrity System assessments in 2001.
An NIS assessment evaluates the anti-corruption efficacy of all principal institutions and actors that form a state. These include all branches of government, the media, the public and private sector, and civil society. Through a nuanced analysis of national efforts to stamp out corruption it provides a framework which local organisations and citizens can use to analyse both the vulnerabilities of a given country to corruption, as well as the effectiveness of national anti-corruption efforts.
The purpose of an NIS study is to assess systemic corruption risks faced by a country and produce a set of recommendations on how to mitigate those risks in the future. Those recommendations can then be used by actors in civil society, government and the private sector for promoting integrity in the country.
To date NIS studies have been completed in more than 100 countries around the world. Transparency International conducted its first NIS study in the Caribbean region in Jamaica in 2003, followed by a Caribbean composite report in 2004. Most recently, from 2009-2011, Transparency International carried out an NIS assessment in the Turks and Caicos Islands – also a small Caribbean island which has undergone a constitutional upheaval in recent years. During the assessment period, numerous high-level corruption scandals in the Turks and Caicos resulted in the partial suspension of its constitution. Our study suggested that it was overall weakness in the country’s corruption-fighting systems which allowed individual actors to pursue their own interests at the expense of the public good.
While each country context is unique, this research gave us experience of the challenges small island states in this region can face. It is Transparency International’s hope the Curaçao NIS assessment will generate a set of concrete recommendations for the island’s key institutions and local actors to pursue in order to strengthen transparency, accountability and integrity. It should also provide a set of good governance benchmarks for the citizens of Curaçao to hold their government and elected officials to account.
As announced in April 2012, Transparency International signed a grant agreement with the Government of Curaçao to undertake the NIS assessment on the island. The grant agreement ensures Transparency International’s complete independence in all phases of the process, from initial research to final outcome and recommendations. Research for the study started in summer 2012 and is being carried out on the island by a local team in dialogue with key actors from across various bodies of the public sector, the private sector and civil society.
The NIS process in Curaçao is consultative and seeks to involve key stakeholders on the island. Transparency International staff visited Curaçao in September 2012 to meet with the local research team and various experts from all of the principal institutions involved in the assessment. All discussions were constructive and well attended by stakeholders, who appeared to place high importance on the dialogue. Preliminary findings will be presented to key stakeholders for feedback in spring, with a view to publication and an official on-island launch later this year.
Transparency International and the local research team are currently moving forward with the assessment with the generous input and guidance of the local stakeholders. We hope that by using this participatory approach, the NIS will provide a useful set of recommendations for Curaçao that society can use to push for positive change.
For more general information of National Integrity System assessments and to see examples of NIS country reports, please click here.Download the report | View online