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TI Reports: Reform needed to make Anti-corruption laws effective in the Middle East and North Africa

UN Convention provides litmus test for country commitment

Read this press release in Arabic.

Transparency International (TI) today published country reports analysing existing anti-corruption laws in Bahrain, Lebanon and Morocco. The reports identify a number of necessary country-specific reforms to improve the detection, prevention and prosecution of corruption and to make the legislation consistent with the standards laid down in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Promoting the UN Convention at the Forum for the Future

The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) provides a template for the legislative changes, identified by TI’s country reports, as well as offering cross-border standards; its ratification by all countries in the region is critical.

Therefore, TI will call on governments at the Forum for the Future, a meeting of leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) and from the countries of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA), to make progress on ratifying and implementing the UNCAC. The Forum provides a prime opportunity for leaders to discuss and take action on issues of political reforms, including corruption and the UN Convention, and for civil society to make its voice heard. The Forum will take place in Jordan on 1 December 2006.

“The UN Convention is a crucial tool for political reform in the region,” said Casey Kelso, Transparency International’s Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East. “But some countries are missing the window of opportunity.”

A framework for the region

The Convention, the first truly global legal instrument in the fight against corruption, is of particular importance to the BMENA region, which lacks the instruments that exist for the African Union, the Organisation of American States and the countries of the OECD.

Despite its importance, the pace of ratification in the region has so far been disappointing. Only six countries - fewer than half - have ratified. Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen have completed the process.

In publishing these country reports, Transparency International, its chapters and civil society partners in the region have joined forces to raise awareness and advocate for reforms in conjunction with the UN Convention. TI and its partners will present an action plan at the Forum for the Future. It includes monitoring the convention’s implementation, strengthening anti-money laundering measures and introducing whistleblower protection in countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

The Conference of States Parties

December will be a pivotal month for the fight against corruption and for the region at large. Immediately following the Forum for the Future, hundreds of government representatives will gather at the UN Convention against Corruption Conference of State Parties from 10 to 14 December 2006 in Jordan.

Although the Convention has been signed by 140 countries and ratified by 70, it must be rigorously enforced and monitored to ensure it makes a difference. The Conference of States parties is the moment when countries that have ratified will decide how they will monitor each others’ progress. Most importantly, governments will decide how much money to commit to the monitoring process.

Only states that have deposited their instruments of ratification by 10 November will be eligible to participate fully in the Conference. “Countries in the region that have not yet ratified need to make this a top priority,” said Kelso. “Obviously, we recognise that each country has its own capacity for progress, but that is no excuse for making no progress at all.”

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

Download the reports here.


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Gypsy Guillén Kaiser
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