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Governments in the Americas must eliminate corruption to create jobs and reduce poverty

  • Transparency InternationaI Press Release
  • ti_proposal_iv_summit.pdf 18.28 kBTransparency International’s recommendations (PDF)
  • Penalillo_Speach.pdf 7.31 kBSpeech of Miguel Peñailillo, Transparency International's Anti-corruption Coordinatior of the Americas (PDF in Spanish)
  • Speech of the OAS Secretary-General, José Miguel Insulza (in Spanish)
  • Quick summary of the Summits of the Americas process
  • Why the fight against corruption is fundamental to creating jobs. TI's response to Rafael Bielsa, Argentinean Foreign Minister
  • Earlier Press Releases
  • Media contacts

Governments in the Americas must eliminate corruption to create jobs and reduce poverty
Transparency International’s recommendations presented to OAS Secretary-General at Summit of the Americas

Mar del Plata, 3 November 2005 --- Poor public resource management has a devastating effect on the most vulnerable segments of society and constitutes the primary hindrance to poverty reduction and job creation. Governments attending the fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, must make a serious commitment to the fight against corruption if the profound challenges faced by the hemisphere are to be overcome.

“In a region where most countries are adrift in a sea of corruption, submerged in extreme poverty and now, devastated by natural disasters, governments must jump head first into the fight against corruption. It must be their top priority,” stated Silke Pfeiffer, Transparency International’s (TI) Regional Director for the Americas, in Mar del Plata. “Shrinking the gap between the rich and poor, creating jobs and improving governance will not happen until the governments of the hemisphere move beyond the same-old promises of the past and make it happen,” she added.

At a meeting this morning in Mar del Plata, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), received recommendations from Transparency International on how governments can strengthen efforts against corruption within their administrations, toughen the fight against bribery in the private sector and enhance corporate social responsibility.

TI urged the governments to fully and effectively implement the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which will enter into force on 14 December.

TI also noted the deteriorating Summit of the Americas process. It recommended creation of a transparent, participatory mechanism to follow up commitments undertaken at this year’s Summit, with a view to establishing an ongoing dialogue between governments, the private sector and civil society on the drafting and implementation of a shared hemispheric agenda.

“Beyond crucial changes to the region’s legal systems, governments and public entities must amend their everyday practices, first by making them transparent in the eyes of their citizens,” noted Miguel Angel Peñailillo, regional coordinator of TI’s Anti-Corruption Conventions Programme.

The 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index, launched by Transparency International on 18 October, confirmed an undeniable correlation between corruption and poverty. Two-thirds of the 159 countries surveyed, including 23 countries of the Americas, suffer from very high perceived levels of corruption.

Latin America is far from meeting the poverty reduction targets of the Millennium Development Goals: over 128 million inhabitants of the region live on less than $2 a day and over 50 million on less than $1. Corruption undermines good governance, producing instability, weak democratic institutions and slow economic growth. It hampers investment and weakens assistance efforts, and leads to unemployment.

The people pay the price. For example, the peasant communities of Guatemala’s altiplano, composed almost entirely of indigenous peoples, lost 80 percent of their corn crops, a staple for the community, in the most recent hurricane. If adequate help does not arrive because of corruption and lack of oversight in management of the aid process, many innocent people will face starvation and death.

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Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the global fight against corruption.

Note to editors:
To access Transparency International’s recommendations,

Transparency International (TI) has participated in activities geared towards following up to the commitments undertaken by signatories since the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC) entered into force in 1996. This monitoring has enabled the implementation of IACAC provisions in 10 countries to be verified; new findings will be made available in December of this year.

The Summits of the Americas and their Commitments to Transparency and the Fight against Corruption

The Summits of the Americas are meetings that bring together the Heads of State and Government of the countries in the Americas and seek to build consensus, devise solutions and develop a shared vision for the future of the region in regards to economic, social and political matters.

The Summits are held every four years and the first took place in 1994. Through its Office of Summits Follow-up, the OAS serves as Secretariat for what is known as the Summit Process, through which multilateral agendas are defined and meetings institutionalised via the activities of coordination and follow-up carried out by the unit. Most notably since the III Summit, held in Canada in 2001, the issue of transparency and the fight against corruption has made its way onto the agenda of these meetings. Civil society enjoys a space in which it can participate in the summit process.

Civil society is increasingly institutionalised, thus making it possible, inter alia, for it to offer contributions to the debates that will decide the content of the agendas as well as activities aimed at following up on Summit commitments.

For more information on the summit process and the role of Transparency International, please visit the Convention's website on TILAC

Click here for further information of the Summits of the Americas Process.

The IV Summit of the Americas

Transparency International believes it necessary to help shape the agenda with proposals that focus on transparency and the fight against corruption. We believe that such problems have a direct impact on ensuring the challenges posed by the fight against inequality, poverty and social exclusion are overcome, as well as decent jobs created, democratic governance strengthened, and human rights respected.

Social policies aimed at overcoming or reducing poverty are undermined directly by corruption, since fewer funds are thus available for social assistance and because they affect the functioning of the organisations responsible for resolving problems related to unemployment, health and education. Corruption constitutes a major obstacle to foreign investment and as such, adversely affects economic development and the positive effects that such development could have on job creation, consumption, etc.

For more information on the role of Transparency International in the IV Summit of the Americas, please click here

For further information and updates on the IV Summit of the Americas please visit the IV Summit's Website .

In response to Rafael Bielsa, Argentinean Foreign Minister on his interview with La Nacion on 29 October, 2005.

To the Foreign Minister of Argentina: You are mistaken. The fight against corruption is fundamental to creating jobs

Buenos Aires / Berlin, 31 October 2005 --- Transparency International (TI) and its chapter in Argentina, Poder Ciudadano, take issue with the remarks made by the Argentinean Foreign Minister, Rafael Biesla, in an interview with the Buenos Aires newspaper, La Nación, in which the minister, in charge of organising the Fourth Summit of the Americas, asks why “it is important to discuss corruption (…) in a country where 37 percent of the population have economic problems“. Yes, Minister Bielsa, it is important.

Corruption is the primary obstacle for economic development for low-income countries. The World Bank Institute estimates that, globally, 1 trillion dollars are paid in bribes per year. The misadministration of public funds has a devasating effect on those who need the most support. It is fundamental to attack this misuse in order to address the economic problems facing the country. Corruption is a disincentive for economic investment and therefore prevents the creation of jobs.

“We profoundly regret the statements made by minister Bielsa. We see that many governments have not understood the grave impact of corruption when the time comes to discuss the politics of job creation and poverty alleviation”, said Silke Pfeiffer, Transparency International Regional Director for the Americas. “It is unfortunate that these remarks should come from the nation hosting the summit. We hope that the assembled delegates understand that fighting corruption is crucial in order to reach the the summit goals,” she added.

“We see how the ignorance of the past, when corruption wasn’t considered a real problem, raises its head again-,” noted Pilar Arcidiácono, Issue Co-ordinator for Transparency and Anti-corruption at Poder Ciudadano,. “The 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index revealed that Argentina, like the majority of countries in Latin America, is threatened by severe levels of corruption.” She added, “If the countries assembled at the Mar del Plata Summit arrive with the same cloudedvision as the Argentinean minister, the goal of strong governance in the region will remain unreachable.“

In the same interview, Bielsa maintained that corruption is an important theme but opined, “What can we say regarding this that hasn’t been said already?” Minister Bielsa, you are right, there is no need for further discussion, it is time to translate these words into action.

What we - and all the people of Argentina - hope to see from the governments assembled at the Fourth Summit of the Americas is a powerful new commitment to fight the corruption that is ravaging our country. This will benefit everyone, but especially the weakest members of society, who cannot fight for themselves.

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Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the global fight against corruption.

Earlier Transparency International Press Releases

On the Summits of the Americas:

The governments of the Americas must make genuine commitments in the fight against corruption
Berlin / Buenos Aires, 9 September 2005 - With a view to the IV Summit of the Americas: “Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance”

On Conventions:

Governments must publish their commitments to the OAS Anti-Corruption ConventionBerlin, 14 October 2005 - Follow-up Mechanism of Inter-American Convention against Corruption is basis for greater accountability.

Anti-Corruption Assessments reveal secrecy as a continuing challenge in the Americas
Washington, 29 September 2005 - As civil society yesterday celebrated Right to Know Day, lack of universal access to information continues to plague the region

New OAS Secretary General pledges action on corruption under democratic Charter
Washington, 27 September 2005 - Jose Miguel Insulza, the new Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), has pledged to fulfil the goal of the Inter-American Democratic Charter to strengthen democracy by reporting on its key elements, as described in the Charter.

First global convention against corruption to enter into force
Berlin, 16 September 2005 - Seven of G-8 have yet to ratify the first truly global anti-corruption convention

OAS must fulfil commitments to anti-corruption convention, says Transparency International
Fort Lauderdale, 06 June 2005 -The governments of the Americas must promptly fulfil the obligations they had undertaken to fight corruption by signing and ratifying the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC)

For any press inquiries please contact press@transparency.org