Updated June 7, 2001
Second Summit of the Americas
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:
Continue exchanges of information and experiences between public institutions, international organizations, and civil society.
Restart the Permanent Council's Working Group on Probity and Public Ethics.
Identify ways to strengthen probity and public ethics, mainly, by encouraging educational and work exchanges and by training different sectors of society.
Continue compiling information on the structure and functions of national institutions charged with strengthening probity, as well as legislation related to acts of corruption as outlined in the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.
Provide advice to governments requesting civil servants conduct drafting.
Identify ways to strengthen national institutions.
Continue to implement the provisions contained in the "preventive measures" section of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.
Harmonize the various initiatives for developing a network which will link the institutions responsible for strengthening probity and for fighting corruption.
Those decisions were implemented into the following actions:
1) Support to the dissemination and application of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Organizations member States.
3) International Conferences:
The First Global Anti-Corruption Forum organized by the U.S. Vice-President Al Gore in February, 2000
The 35th Annual Congress of the Inter-American Bar Association that took place in Mexico City from June 6-12, 1999
The Second Meeting of the Consultative Group for the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central America that took place on May 25-28, 1999
The conference entitled Transparency for Growth in the Americas, organized by the Carter Center on May 4-5, 1999
The Regional Conference Concerning on the Fight Against Corruption, organized by the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, the Central American Inter-Parliamentary Commission Against Corruption and Drug Activity, and the Salvadoran Institute for Democracy's discussion of the role of the OAS in the Fight Against Corruption -- all of which took place in October 1998
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 Conventions 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-à-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-à-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-à-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:
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:
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:
Examination of the financial role of international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Assessment of the implementation of anti-corruption follow-up mechanisms including the OECD, European Council, and United Nations
Examination of probity agreements relating to the private sector
Discussion on the role of civil society in the promotion of probity and civic ethics
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 Hemispheres 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.
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