9 Years of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption

On March 29, 1996 in Caracas, Venezuela, the first international juridical anti-corruption instrument, the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, of the Organization of American States, was opened for signing

Translations: ES  

The Convention emerged from a conviction of the governments of the Americas that corrupt practices have grave and damaging effects on democracy, on functioning economies and on the life of citizens. This conviction was bolstered by cases of grand corruption in the countries of the Americas and by weak national legislation that permitted unequal competition between national and foreign companies bidding for public contracts.

In 1997 the Convention entered into force, and now includes strong preventive measures regarding policy and internal norms, sanction of specific corruption practices at the national level, especially bribery, and international cooperation to fight corruption. Today the Convention has been signed and ratified by 33 countries, almost all countries in the hemisphere, and the OAS carries out activities with the goals of promoting and implementing the Convention.

The first international, juridical anti-corruption instrument of its kind, the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption served as a model for other anti-corruption conventions, such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption.

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Civil society organizations in the Americas work to make the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption more effective

Since the adoption of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption in 1996, civil society organizations from across the hemisphere have lobbied for its rapid signing, ratification and implementation. These same groups also called on OAS Member States to create a follow-up mechanism to the Convention, in order to assure full implementation of the Convention in each country. Transparency International (TI), through its National Chapters in the Americas, has led advocacy work at the national and international levels.

Two years after a meeting held by TI to debate and recommend a follow-up mechanism to the Convention, 28 State Parties to the Convention met in Buenos Aires in June 2001 to negotiate and agree on what is today the follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Convention.

The follow-up mechanism includes a Committee of Experts that conducts a technical analysis of implementation by States Parties. A questionnaire is circulated to States Parties and civil society organizations and responses are provided. The Committee of Experts holds review meeting on implementation, which state representatives and civil society are invited to attend. The Committee then prepares a final report with recommendations to the State under review.

Civil society organizations from 15 of the 18 countries examined to date have participated in the review process by submitting independent reports on State compliance, and by presenting their observations and conclusions to the Committee of Experts. TI lobbied to assure this space for civil society participation, and its National Chapters as well as other organizations from the region, have been on-hand to make insightful presentations.

The following organizations, have submitted independent reports and made presentations to the Committee of Experts: Poder Ciudadano* (Argentina), Etica y Democracia** (Bolivia), Chile Transparente* (Chile), Transparencia por Colombia* (Colombia), Transparencia Internacional Costa Rica* (Costa Rica), Corporación Latinoamericana para el Desarrollo* (Ecuador), Etica y Transparencia* (Nicaragua), Libertad Ciudadana* (Panama), Transparencia Paraguay* (Paraguay), Proética* (Peru), Uruguay Transparente* (Uruguay), and Transparencia Venezuela* (Venezuela).

Most recently, at the latest review meeting of the Committee of Experts, held on 7 March 2005, organizations from the Dominican Republican (Participación Ciudadana**, Finjus and Federalista), El Salvador (Asociación Probidad) and Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute*) participated, providing astute and clear assessments of State compliance with the Convention. To read the press statement issued by Transparency International at the 7 March meeting, click here.

TI National Chapters in Canada, Guatemala and the United States have already submitted their independent reports to the OAS which will be considered by the Committee of Experts during the next round of review, to take place in August 2005.

In addition to preparing independent reports on State compliance with the Convention and presenting their findings before the Committee of Experts, many civil society organizations in the Americas are also actively working at the national level to raise awareness of State obligations to the Convention, and designing programmes and events, often in cooperation with their governments, to lobby for full implementation of the Convention and to monitor State compliance with the recommendations of the Committee of Experts.

To contact any of the TI National Chapters or National Contacts mentioned here, click here.

*TI National Chapter 
**TI National Contact

What the experts say about the Convention

Expert Articles published in Agencia de Noticias Cívicas de las Américas - Red InterAmericana para la Democracia

The Inter-American Convention Against Corruption: Its importance and the role of NGOs in monitoring its implementation
(November 29, 2004) Gillian Dell

The importance of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption
(November 29, 2004) Nicolás Raigorodsky

From the Organization of American States (OAS)

Transparency International to present proposals on strengthening corruption sanctions on the continent at an OAS intergovernental meeting on 28 and 29 March

On the occasion of 9 years since the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption was opened for signing, the OAS has organized an intergovernmental meeting on the denial of safe haven to corrupt officials and to those who corrupt them, co-operation on extradition and recovery of assets to take place on 28 and 29 March, 2005 in Washington, DC. The meeting is an opportunity for the States to analyze the implementation of the Convention and to make decisions on how to strengthen justice and decrease impunity in the American states.

Representatives of Transparency International will participate in the meeting, making proposals that will help to strengthen the efficiency of international cooperation in fighting corruption in the Americas.

Statement by States Parties to the Convention, Managua 8-9 July, 2004

statement_managua_eng.pdf 23.49 kB

July 8-9, 2004 Original: Spanish
Managua, Nicaragua )


Editor's note: This article was amended on 6 May 2016 to correct a typo in the second paragraph.

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