The urgent need to take anti-corruption from rhetoric to actions is a decisive challenge for the 33 heads of state meeting at the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) taking place from 6-8 June in Lima. A stronger effort to fight corruption by governments in the Americas is imperative to ensure peace, security and sustainable development, according to Transparency International (TI), the anti-corruption organisation, which presented a series of recommendations to the OAS.
“The persistent inequality plaguing our people and the flourishing violence in a world where impunity and corruption remain mostly unchallenged must be faced by the OAS,” said Delia Ferreira, Board Member of TI. “The OAS has a responsibility to ensure that states fulfil their anti-corruption commitments or it risks losing relevance and legitimacy.”
While the region has made important economic gains in the past years, corruption is persistently linked to the continuing high levels of inequality, poverty and violence. Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest income inequality worldwide, with five of the ten most unequal countries in the world located in the region.
Globally, violence and organised crime threaten democracy in too many countries. Average murder rates are among the highest, according to the United Nations. In some countries they are up to 10 times those in Western Europe.
The OAS was the first regional organisation to adopt a convention against corruption in 1996, but TI monitoring reports show there are serious gaps in its implementation. To address these and the key themes of this year’s summit on Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Americas, TI presented to the OAS detailed recommendations aimed at bolstering efforts to improve transparency and accountability in the region. These include:
- Ensure civil society participation in OAS activities is unrestricted
- A greater role for civil society in monitoring compliance with the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC)
- Implementation of on-site visits to prepare IACAC progress reports and publication of all reports
- Greater transparency in defence procurement and defence budgets
- Better communications and dissemination of best practices
- Approval and implementation of access to information legislation in all OAS countries
- Transparent disclosure of political party financing
“Citizens in the Americas need to be able to trust their governments and institutions, such as the police and the judiciary. But only when these institutions rid themselves of corruption will people start believing in them. Allowing civil society to monitor national governments and publish their findings will help build this trust and bolster democracy,” said Ferreira.
Read more about Anti-corruption conventions in the Americas.
Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption
Note to editors: TI has chapters or contact groups in 16 countries throughout the Americas. In 2009 TI produced a summary report The State of Anti-Corruption: Assessing Government Action in the Americas. Also available are country reports on implementation of the convention in:
|Dominican Republic||Trinidad and Tobago|
The Venezuelan government has repeatedly vetoed civil society participation in the monitoring process of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC), making it the only country without an official shadow report on its efforts and the sole censor of civil society at the OAS. TI and other organisations last presented independent reports in March 2010, reviewing how governments are implementing the convention. Venezuela alleges that the TI chapter Transparencia Venezuela, a legally constituted entity in the country, does not represent Venezuelan society.
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Lima: Marta Erquicia, Americas Programme Coordinator
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