Without strengthening the Arab Parliamentary Institution, fighting corruption in the Arab world will not have a chance
In addressing the Third World Conference of Global Parliamentarians against Corruption in Kuwait, Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, AMAN Commissioner for Combating Corruption, clarifies the reason behind the absence of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the conference; “it is the Israeli siege which prevented your colleagues, from attending this conference”. Dr. Shuaibi was one of the Palestinian delegation attending the conference. Mahmoud Al-Aloul, PLC member, and Ghada Zughayar, Executive Director of AMAN coalition also attended. Six PLC members from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were invited to participate. Unfortunately, the imposed Israeli siege and denial of an entry visas to Kuwait prevented them from participating in the Conference.
More than 200 parliamentarians and representatives of the different branches of Transparency International, civil society organizations (CSO), and other international organizations attended the conference which was held in Kuwait on November 17-20, 2008. All invitees were involved actively in the conference program. However, the effective broad participation of the Arab Network for Arab Parliamentarians against Corruption was noted as it seized the opportunity to hold an extensive side meeting to discuss mechanisms of enhancing the role of Arab parliamentarians in adopting and implementing the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in their countries. They also discussed CSO role in raising awareness of the UNCAC among all the parties concerned.
The network representatives from all Arab countries reviewed achievements relating to the UNCAC. Dr. Shuaibi stated that despite the fact that Palestine is not officially a state within the United Nations (UN), hence it is not obliged to implement the Convention, the government has filled self-evaluation form of the Convention and sent it to the United Nations. This of course came after the Palestinian government had adopted and ratified the Convention through a formal letter to the UN. Furthermore, Dr. Shuaibi gave his recommendations to Arab parliamentarians and governments to provide the right environment to CSO to participate in the implementation of the Convention since the Convention is not intended exclusively to governments but rather to all sectors of society, first and foremost, CSO.
Dr. Shuaibi also presented the Report on Corruption in Palestine prepared by the Parliamentarians against Corruption Network and in cooperation with AMAN.
On the other hand, the Executive Director of AMAN participated in a special workshop on analysis of “Gender Policy within the Global Network of Parliamentarians against Corruption”. She stressed the need for a rapprochement of gender issues with the goals, programs and policy of the International and Arab Parliamentarians against Corruption Networks. Ms. Zughayar called for better representation and wider participation of women in Arab Parliaments and networks. She also pointed out that there are obstacles on the ground which hinders participation of women especially for women living in countries under occupation such as Palestine. For example, a case in point is the denial of Rawya Shawa, an PLC member the participation in this conference by the Israelis.
It is worth noting that representatives from AMAN held many side meetings with international and Arab institutions during the period of the conference as well as participating in several press conferences.
At its closing statement of the Conference the participants adopted many important decisions such as the need to strengthen the performance of parliaments as it relates to democracy, legislation, monitoring, and representation which constitute essential elements in improving governance. Parliaments’ duties also extend to include promoting public understanding of the negative effects of corruption and influencing public opinion in the fight against corruption. Parliamentarians and members of the Conference also pledged to carry out their duties in the supervision of public resources and reducing corruption through improved governance and the adoption of initiatives to combat money-laundering and the recovery of stolen assets. They also pledged to work with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and with Governments that have ratified the UNCAC to provide additional and political leadership to follow-up on the implementation of the UNCAC.
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