Presentación a la
"OAS Special Committee
on Inter-American Summits Management"
Third Summit of the Americas
"The Community of the Americas: Vital
7 de noviembre de 2000
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for providing Transparency
International with the opportunity to contribute, once again, to the work
of the OAS Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management as it
prepares for the Third Summit of the Americas. We commend you and the
members of the Committee for organizing this series of consultations with
"Connectivity in the Summit Agenda" is of
particular interest to Transparency International. With over 70 chapters
worldwide, including 19 here in the Americas, we appreciate the enormous
value of connectivity. For example, the success of our advocacy efforts
depends on our ability to receive and disseminate information broadly and
quickly. In addition, our website provides a wealth of information,
including extensive examples of best practices in transparency and
integrity that are provided by and used by governments, the private
sector, financial institutions, and other NGOs.
Perhaps most important, the web can be a useful tool by
which to hold governments accountable. However, its potential to be such a
powerful tool, promoting accountability and democratic institutions, will
depend on whether there is the underlying political will throughout the
region to use it for that purpose.
Today’s meeting implies that there is such a
political will – at least in some quarters—to draw on and to draw in
civil society. But, a broader look at the region and a deeper examination
of the processes at this and other institutions raises concern about the
extent of the public sector’s commitment to provide citizens with
adequate information and opportunities for participation.
Connectivity will only live up to its promise if there
is a change among those in the public sector who view civil society as, at
worst, a threat or at best, a nuisance rather than as a valued partner.
Let me illustrate connectivity’s potential by
referring to TI’s recommendations for the Summit, which we presented at
the last consultation held by this committee.
1) TI called for the establishment of an OAS mutual
review mechanism to promote effective implementation and enforcement
of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.
At the June 2000 OAS General Assembly meeting,
ministers adopted a resolution [AG/RES. 1723] calling for a recommendation
by year-end on the most appropriate model drawing on experience in other
fora. Under the chairmanship of Mr. Alice of Argentina, the OAS Working
Group on Probity is already deeply engaged in discussions in order to
fulfill that mandate.
Experience in other fora has demonstrated that the
elements that are essential for effective mutual review mechanisms are
also those that could benefit from the use of information technology. They
- publication of information on model laws and best practices;
- publication of working group questionnaires and government
- publication of progress reports on the extent of country compliance
and the quality of remedial steps; and,
- in-country consultation with the local private sector and civil
The OAS and the Legal Secretariat have already taken
noteworthy steps on the first two elements, but the Working Group is still
deliberating how they will handle the other two. If this mechanism is
really to be effective, and the potential value of the Convention depends
on it, then the members will have to agree to disseminate information and
to secure citizen input. With that agreement, technology can provide a
mechanism for achieving those objectives. It can also reduce the financial
burden on countries concerned about resources by using technology, such as
video conferencing and on-line submissions.
2) TI called for a legal framework to (a) promote
public participation, such as through public hearings, and (b) place
an affirmative obligation on governments to publish routine government
information in a timely and accessible manner. Routine information
would include draft laws, licensing and other regulations, judicial
decisions and administrative actions, budgets, public salaries, voting
records and so forth.
Meaningful opportunities for public participation and
regular publication of information are indispensable to creating
accountable public institutions, support trade and investment, and build
public trust. Yet, TI chapters in the Americas report that there are
considerable variations in the current status, with only limited
information published in some countries, inadequate access to information
in others, and, in most, few regular opportunities for public
participation in decision-making. It is clear that this is an area where
concrete steps are needed and where information technology can provide a
3) TI recommended action to improve transparency in
This is clearly an area where information technology
can also be a powerful tool for disseminating information. Several
governments in the region have recognized its power and have already put
substantial amounts of procurement information on-line. At a minimum,
leaders should agree at the Summit to put online all procurement laws and
regulations, specifications, tender opportunities, evaluation criteria,
standards, and notices of awards as an FTAA Business Facilitation Measure
Those governments that have already done so should
share their experiences and indicate the extent of cost savings that have
been generated. The IDB should assist with the funding and technical
resources that may be necessary.
Before moving away from the FTAA arena, I would like to
take this opportunity to mention the Committee of Government
Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society. This is a clear
example of what has not worked. In the last round, this committee did
little to solicit input and so received little. It provided no opportunity
for an exchange of views, merely passing along summaries of submissions to
ministers. We hope that the FTAA committee will consider this committee’s
public consultations and alter its procedures accordingly in the months
leading up to the Summit.
These are a few of the areas where a information
technology can help promote our mutual objectives of strengthening
democracy, social development, and economic growth and integration. The
Committee’s excellent background paper raises the fundamental challenges
of access, content and resources. I hope that TI’s specific
recommendations will be considered for inclusion in the Connectivity
Agenda and that the technology available in 2000 will help bring to
fruition the commitments Leaders made in 1994.