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Arab region parliamentarians debate role of access to information in the fight against corruption

Over 100 parliamentarians, civil society activists, business people and academics meet in Beirut to discuss ways to fight corruption in Lebanon and the Arab region

In an unprecedented initiative, at the invitation of the Lebanese Transparency Association and the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), 100 participants from 11 countries from the Middle East, north Africa and the Gulf region, are meeting in Beirut to establish the Arab chapter of the GOPAC, and to focus especially in the promotion of the citizen's access to publicly held information and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

During the conference, which will extend until Saturday, Charles D. Adwan, executive director of the Lebanese Transparency Association said "Parliamentarians should commit to accountability and control the Executive, instead of hiding, encouraging or even participating in corruption". Later in the day, Parliamentarians from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and Sudan elected the Board of the Arab Chapter of GOPAC. During the opening ceremony,

Dr. Naser Al Sane, vice chairman of GOPAC and member of the Kuwaiti Parliament told the participants "the Arab world is the worst region in the world that suffers from bad governance, and needs reform".

The meeting was organized by the Lebanese Transparency Association, part of the Transparency International movement, and supported by the UN Development Programme, the British Embassy in Beirut and Transparency International.

For this special occasion, the Lebanese Transparency Association launched a book with a collection of articles from 7 countries of the region regarding the state of access to information regimes in the region, in an effort to summarize this information for the first time. Published in Arabic, the book "The Right to Information: In light of International Experiences". The book includes a translation of Transparency International's Global Corruption Report 2003, which focused exclusively on access to information and corruption. As a consequence of the initiatives reported in the book a number of draft laws are being presented to Parliaments in the region. For example, the Palestine chapter of TI has assisted in developing a model law to facilitate citizen's access to information, which is now in general discussion within the Palestinian Legislative Council.

On Saturday, participants will join discussions with the Lebanon Corporate Governance Forum, under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to establish a regional integrity alliance cutting across civil society organizations, the private sector and the Public Sector.

For any press enquiries please contact

Dr. Naser Al Sane
Member of the Kuwait Parliament and Chairman of the Arab Chapter of Global Parliamentarians Against Corruption
(Arabic, English)