Transparency International calls for concrete action
The Santiago Summit of the Americas will test whether the leaders are prepared to act on the ground-breaking anticorruption commitments they made four years ago in Miami.
Success will be measured by whether they set clear goals and timetables for concrete reforms, according to Transparency International (TI), the global coalition to curb corruption.
In 1994, leaders candidly acknowledged that corruption was damaging economic per-formance, discouraging foreign investment, and eroding public trust in government, and they committed to combat it. Since then, they have concluded the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (OAS), and six OAS members have signed the OECD Convention Against Bribery (see annex).
"While we commend the leaders for these important initiatives, implementation is key to delivering on the promise of accountable and democratic government and a hospitable business environment," said Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International.
TI national chapters throughout the hemisphere call on their leaders to take specific actions to implement reforms and build public confidence. Elections, investments, and even impeachments reflect the public demand for action.
At a minimum, leaders should commit to ratify the conventions this year, and they should provide for annual progress reports on implementation of key provisions. They should agree on concrete steps to promote the independence of the judiciary and free-dom for journalists. These are the indispensable guardians of democracy and their institutional base is still fragile. TI is deeply concerned that Latin American journalists, in the forefront of the anticorruption movement, have been threatened, censored, or even murdered to suppress information about corruption.
Recent financial crises have demonstrated the damage caused by inadequate informa-tion and lack of transparency. TI cautions that to realise the potential of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), governments must provide greater public access to information and should move quickly to implement an agreement on transparency in procurement. The 1998 Americas Business Forum supported such an agreement and defined the elements of transparency. TI maintains that there is simply no excuse for waiting until the year 2005, the date set for the FTAA to go into final effect, to require accountability for the disposition of public funds.
Transparency International believes that these concrete steps are the basic building blocks of good government./ In 1994, the leaders of the Americas seemed to agree. What they must demonstrate in 1998 is the political will to move from words to action.
For further information:
* our Executive Director for Latin America Mr Miguel Schloss at tel. 49-30-343 8200
* our press department Mr Jeff Lovitt at tel. 49-30-343 8200
Corruption Perceptions Index 1997
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