Updated June 7, 2001

Second Summit of the Americas

CORRUPTION

World Bank Group:  Anti-Corruption

OAS Anti-Corruption Network

The Second Summit of the America's initiative on corruption displays governments' support of the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption, and shows their resolve to implement the actions established therein.

At the Santiago Summit, States decided to hold a Symposium on Enhancing Probity in the Hemisphere, which would take place in Chile in November 1998. Moreover, they decided to follow-up on the progress achieved under the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and to promote its prompt ratification by Member States.

Further, governments dealt with the financing of electoral campaigns.  Specifically, they proposed to promote cooperation and consider measures to prevent organized crime and drug traffickers from making financial contributions to electoral campaigns.

At a symposium on enhancing probity in the Hemisphere, held in Santiago, Chile, November 4 to 6, 1998, delegates discussed matters related to member States' national institutions and regulations concerning public probity and ethics. As well as discussing legal and administrative aspects, delegates talked about the experience of international organizations in strengthening mechanisms for cooperation between national institutions and other sectors of society, performing analysis of the various aspects of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, assisting inter-governmental organizations in the fight against corruption, and carrying out the mandates on corruption contained in the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas.

The OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs compiled a report which contains agreements and recommendations made during the meeting.  These are some the  decisions reached at this meeting:

Those decisions were implemented into the following actions:

1) Support to the dissemination and application of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption

  1. Dissemination of the Convention:  The general objective of this project is to diffuse the information and to assist the efforts of the countries aimed to    ratify and incorporate, in their internal law, the norms and the principles of the Convention according to the constitutional guidelines and dispositions of the national legislation.

  2. Support to the application of the Convention, 'The Status of Criminal Legislation in Relation to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption': This action is an initiative from the IDB and the OAS.  Its objective is to offer support to 12 Member States of the OAS and incorporate the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption into their internal law, especially those provisions related to criminal law.

  3. Support to the Project Concerning Legislative Modernization and Institutional Development of the Legislative Power in Central America:  The main objective of this initiative is to develop blueprints and frameworks for a Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Parliamentary and Business Ethics as well as identify some of the legal reforms that are required by the countries of Central America to incorporate the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption into their domestic legislation.

  4. Support to the Andean Parliament in the Development of Policies that Promote and Facilitate Cooperation to Combat Corruption:  The  project will seek to strengthen the Ethical Codes of Conduct of these legislative bodies, and the ramifications of violations to the norms and principles contained therein.

  5. To consult the list of those publications go to the Secretariat for Legal Affairs website.

2)  Inter-American Network and System of Information:

The creation of this network responds to an initiative of the Secretary General of the Organization that was presented during the 'Symposium on the Strengthening of Probity in the Hemisphere,' which was held in Santiago, Chile, in November of 1998. The Network aims to promote greater exchanges of information and experiences to further cooperation and coordinate hemispheric actions in the struggle against corruption. The Network, which is still being fine-tuned and expanded, already involves 56 public institutions and civil society organizations from 19 of the Organization’s member States.

3) International Conferences:

The OAS Department of Legal Cooperation held a workshop to disseminate and incorporate into domestic law the Inter-American Convention against Corruption in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. The general aim of this event was to publicize the nature, content, and scope of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption through national workshops and promote greater awareness of the Convention’s principles in the participating countries. It also aimed at assisting the promotion of government efforts to ratify and implement, in their internal law, the norms and principles of the Convention according to the constitutional guidelines and dispositions of the national legislation. The workshop created a forum for discussion and analysis of  methodology and alternatives for implementation. Approximately 275 people from the private and public sectors attended the workshops. 

OAS/IDB Project: The State of Criminal Legislation vis--vis the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption

The OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a cooperative on March 26, 1999. This agreement led to the OAS/IDB project, 'The State of Criminal Legislation vis--vis the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption', which will support twelve OAS member countries in incorporating the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption into their domestic legislation, in particular, as regards the provisions of criminal law. This initiative will be carried out through technical investigations that will analyze the state of criminal law vis--vis the terms of the Convention that will then be expanded upon at workshops organized for that purpose. Organizations representing civil society will be invited to participate both during the implementation of this project and in its follow-up.  The intended result is the creation of an exchange network for information and cooperation which could, in turn, promote a broader debate on this issue. 

XXIX OAS General Assembly

The XXIX OAS General Assembly held in June, 1999 in Guatemala, adopted a resolution to re-initiate the activities of the Working Group on Probity and Civic Ethics of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs. This Working Group will follow-up on the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption and on the recommendations of the Symposium on Enhancing Probity in the Hemisphere.

On January 24, 2000, the Working Group held a meeting in which it considered three main subjects:

  1. The Report of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs (Department of International Law) on the anti-corruption work of the Inter-American Juridical Committee
  2. The Report of the Secretariat of Legal Affairs (Department of Legal Cooperation and Public Information) on the execution of anti-corruption projects, particularly in relation to the OAS/IDB agreement
  3. The Commencement of special session proceedings of the Working Group on the Enhancement of Probity and the Fight against Corruption in the Hemisphere

Regarding the Report of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs on execution of the OAS/IDB anti-corruption project, it was proposed that projects be carried out in four specific areas:

  1. Support for enforcement of the Convention
  2. Legislative modernization and institutional development
  3. Information systems and the Inter-American network
  4. Investigative journalism

In addition, a variety of recommendations were made to the Working Group on the Enhancement of Probity and the Fight against Corruption in the Hemisphere. Noteworthy among these recommendations is the following:

Questionnaire: "Ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption"

At the request of the Working Group on Probity and Public Ethics, the Department of Legal Cooperation prepared a questionnaire on "Ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption."  The questionnaire is intended to collect information not only from countries that have signed and ratified the Convention, but also from all Member States.  The questionnaire was disseminated in March, 2000, and the information gathered will support the Working Group's efforts to strengthen cooperation and identify gaps in anti-corruption implementation.

Special Session of the Working Group on Probity and Public Ethics of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs

In accordance with the mandate on the elimination of corruption, the Working Group on Probity and Public Ethics of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, held a special meeting on March 31, 2000 entitled "Enhancement of Probity and the Fight Against Corruption in the Hemisphere". The major issues analyzed at this meeting were:

The major documents discussed along with the presentations made by certain delegations at this meeting are available online at http://www.oas.org/En/prog/juridico/english/probity2000.htm.

The Trust for the Americas

The Trust for the Americas held a conference in Costa Rica -- the first of a series of regional events across Latin America to undertake a joint and equal struggle against corruption. These events are the result of the mandates handed down by the Hemisphere’s leaders at the Second Summit of the Americas, in which press freedoms and fighting corruption were identified as hemispheric priorities in two separate mandates.

This two-day conference explored the social and environmental impacts of corruption as well as the role of a transparent procurement process in fighting corruption from the perspectives of the media, civil society, private sector, and government. This event examined key institutional reforms undertaken in the different sub-regions, thus providing information on practices and viewpoints regarding the decision-making process in the war on corruption.

Document on the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption

During a recent hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on May 2, 2000, a testimony entitled "A Political Commitment to Combat Corruption in this Hemisphere", was presented which supports the U.S. ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. This Convention, which was adopted at the OAS Specialized Conference on Corruption held in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 29, 1996, entered into force on March 6, 1997, with 18 States having currently deposited their instruments of ratification.

XXX OAS General Assembly

The XXX OAS General Assembly held in June, 2000 in Windsor, Canada, adopted a resolution that urges Governments to adapt their domestic law to the comittments undertaken upon ratification of the Convention and to follow-up on the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption to address, inter alia, the following subjects: training, experience acquired by national institutions, public sector procurement, incompatibilities between public office and private sector interests, and analysis of criminal laws on corruption and related offenses.

Corruption Workshop

On October 5-6, 2000, a follow-up workshop to the Implementation Program for the Inter-American Convention against Corruption took place in Santiago, Chile. Both the General Secretary of the Organization of American States and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank attended the meeting. The workshop marked the beginning of a new cycle of technical meetings that will analyze the adequacy of the penal laws in countries that have ratified the Convention.

At each technical workshop, experts will analyze the studies realized by each country and evaluate the corresponding proposals. The workshops will also seek the consensus and compromise essential to promote the adoption of those reforms that have been deemed necessary in each country.

At the same workshop, the Subsecretariat of Juridical Affairs of the OAS presented a questionnaire in which Member States have to respond to questions that address various aspects of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. This questionnaire will help to determine the juridical status of each country regarding corruption so that problems that exist can be identified, cooperation between countries can be strengthened, technical assistance can be improved, and more information can be exchanged.

OAS Working Group on Probity and Civic Ethics

On October 26, 2000, the Working Group on Probity and Civic Ethics met to consider the following proposals made by Member States in relation to the follow-up and implementation of the Inter-American Program against Corruption:

For additional information please see the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs homepage on the fight against corruption; the United States Information Agency's Internet Site "The Multinational Effort Against Bribery and Corruption in International Business Practices"; Transparency International; or the World Bank's page on Governance and Anti-Corruption.

Meeting on the Definition of a Follow-up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption

In order to establish a follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, member States of the OAS met in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, on May 2-4, 2001. States parties to the Convention defined the purposes, fundamental principles, structure and responsibilities of the follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Convention. These States established that the mechanism must be impartial, objective, just and equal; it must not imply sanctions; it must be confidential yet transparent; and it must be developed on a consensual and cooperative manner among States.

The mandates and initiatives for corruption were reinvigorated and fortified at the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.  For more information on the fight against corruption, and to continue with follow up activities in this area, please see the following Quebec City mandate:

Updated June 7, 2001 

 


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