Arab governments must strengthen the rule of law and increase the effectiveness of governance mechanisms, participants agreed yesterday at a Transparency International event focusing on transparent, just and sustainable systems of government.
Civil society representatives, government officials, business people, academics and journalists, called upon Arab governments to bolster all aspects of society crucial to the fight against corruption. This includes key pillars from judicial systems and parliaments, to the media and private sector.
The event was the first in a series of Transparency International’s Middle East & North Africa Regional Roundtables seeking to capitalise on the current, pivotal moment in history with Arab governments in political and economic transition as millions of citizens seek real change from new leaders.
The panel included Ramzi Nuzha (Board member of the Jordanian Anti-Corruption Commission), Dr. Naser Al Sane (Chairman of Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption), Sabah Hamamou (Deputy Business Editor of Al Ahram in Egypt), Fahem Boukaddous (Tunisian activist and journalist), Bothaina Kamel (journalist and Egyptian presidential nominee) and Dr.Azmi Shuaibi (Commissioner for Combatting Corruption AMAN Palestine).
Participants called upon Arab governments to strengthen both the rule of law and national integrity systems, to increase the effectiveness of governance mechanisms, and agreed on 20 recommendations including:
- ENABLING citizens of Arab countries to obtain the right to access information.
- EMPOWERING civil society organisations.
- PROTECTING whistleblowers and journalists in cases exposing corruption.
- ENSURING independence of national anticorruption commissions.
Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for private gain and represents a critical social issue around the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring, and is at the heart of people’s sense of justice and injustice. Arwa Hassan, Regional Outreach Manager for the MENA Region says “this debate was particularly refreshing because it moved beyond the politics of anti-corruption to developing concrete recommendations to improve the lives of those most affected by corruption”.
Citizens are seeking a new kind of relationship with their governments, one based on transparency, accountability and participation, making the right to access to information a key plank in this emerging social contract.
These measures provide a strategic platform in the regional fight against corruption. Arab governments need to work collaboratively with civil society organisations and the private sector. Only by a genuine collaboration between governments and their citizens can change that is truly sustainable be brought about.
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