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G8 and BMENA governments’ commitment to fight corruption needs effective follow-up

Transparency International delegation presents Action Plan for anti-corruption reforms to foreign ministers

Read the Arabic version of this press release here.

Transparency International today presented an Action Plan for anti-corruption reforms to the foreign ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations and the Broader Middle East and North Africa region (BMENA) at the Forum for the Future 2006, held in Jordan from 30 November to 1 December.

Transparency International made a renewed call for the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the first global instrument in the fight against corruption. This request was also presented at the 2005 Forum.

Progress, however, has been limited. Canada, Japan, Germany and Italy have yet to ratify - half the nations of the G8. On the BMENA side, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates ratified last year, joining Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Yemen. Yet only a disappointing seven out of 21 countries in the region have ratified.

The UN Convention provides a template for legislative changes and offers cross border anti-corruption standards. The Action Plan urges governments to:

  • establish effective mechanisms to monitor and thereby make UNCAC a reality in national law, in partnership with civil society;
  • strengthen anti-money laundering measures at national, regional and international level; and
  • introduce measures to protect those who report corruption, to support a culture of reporting and “blowing the whistle”.

“Most G8 and BMENA governments still must prove that they are serious about fighting corruption and implementing reform. The pledges in the Forum’s final summary will be fruitless if they are not followed by action. Our delegation provided concrete recommendations and steps for follow-up, and it is unfortunate that the final summary does not include more precise measures,” said Kamal Mesbahi, member of the Board of Transparency Maroc and head of the TI delegation, following a presentation to 36 foreign ministers. “It is intolerable if governments sign the anti-corruption convention, but don't do anything, or stay outside altogether,” added Mesbahi.

Cobus de Swardt, Global Programmes Director at Transparency International, underlined the centrality of civil society: "The Forum’s spirit of cooperation must develop into meaningful progress, particularly in regard to the inclusion of civil society in UNCAC’s implementation. Just as civil society played a major role in the Convention’s development, it should also play a major role in its implementation, helping to ensure effective follow-up, anti-money laundering measures and laws protecting whistleblowers."

As part of a G8-BMENA partnership initiative, the Forum for the Future aims to support educational and economic reforms in the region. The Action Plan is based on a broader civil society dialogue that started in July 2005, comprising more than 50 civil society organisations from the G8 and BMENA. Today’s Action Plan complements the Platform for Action presented at the 2005 Forum.

Jordan will host the first Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on 10-14 December. Transparency International’s International Chair Huguette Labelle will head its delegation. She stated: “Corruption is a global threat, and a global instrument is required to fully address it. The Forum for the Future and the Conference of States Parties are windows of opportunity to establish milestones on the way to a world free of corruption.”

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

Note to Editors:

To read the civil society Action Plan in English click here. For Arabic click here.

Civil society organisations that collaborated on the Action Plan are: Al-Noor Universal Foundation (Iraq), AMAN Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (Palestine), Arab Archives Institute (Jordan), Arab Thought Forum (Palestine), Bahraini Section of Arab Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Bahrain), Article 19 (UK), Association Algérienne de Lutte contre la Corruption (Algeria), Bahrain Transparency Society (Bahrain), CEWLA - Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance (Egypt), Forum for Civil Society (Yemen), Forum pour la Protection des Deniers Publics (Morocco), General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (Jordan), Iraqi Center For Transparency & Anti-Corruption (Iraq), Iraqi Institute for Economic Reform (Jordan), Jordan Transparency Forum (Jordan), Kuwait Economic Society (Kuwait), Kuwait Transparency Society (Kuwait), Lebanese Transparency Association (Lebanon), Lebanese Section of Arab Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Lebanon), Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pakistan), Public Interest Advocacy Center (Lebanon), Transparence Maroc (Morocco), Transparency International (Global), UNICORN (UK).

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