Experts Meeting on Democratic Governance Against Corruption
Lima, Peru – On October 30th and 31st, 2017, the Inter-American Dialogue, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, and Transparency International hosted a group of 28 anti-corruption experts to discuss and draft recommendations for the VIII Summit of the Americas to be hosted in Peru in April, 2018.
The Summit of the Americas is the primary leaders’ forum for the Western Hemisphere and one of the most important instruments of Inter-American multilateral diplomacy, bringing together all 35 heads of state to discuss pressing challenges at the highest level. For the first time, the 2018 Summit will specifically focus on corruption as a regional and shared challenge. The Government of Peru has announced the Summit theme as “Democratic Governance against Corruption.”
This meeting was held at the Centro Cultural Inca Garcialaso and brought together 28 experts from 11 countries. Participants included representatives from governments, civil society, academia, charitable foundations, and multilateral organizations. A full list of participants can be found here. Photos of the event can be found here. The meeting was funded by in-kind donations by the Carter Center, the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Financial Transparency Coalition, and ParlAmericas, as well as small donations by individual donors.
Through a day and a half of roundtable discussion, experts discussed and debated proposals to strengthen inter-American institutions, proposals to strengthen national capacity, and proposals to strengthen regional cooperation.
Participants agreed that the governments of the Americas have a rare opportunity to pursue specific, discrete, and actionable policy changes. The group argued that negotiators should aim to strengthen and expand existing Organization of American States (OAS) mechanisms, explore new possibilities for multilateral agreements, commit themselves to new and verifiable standards of transparency and accountability, and hold each other accountable for commitments already made.
Specifically, in a statement released shortly after the meeting, the group made the following recommendations:
Access to information, transparency, and freedom of expression: Use the Summit of the Americas as a platform to announce national action plans that reflect the highest international standards in areas such as open government, political finance, money laundering, beneficial ownership, whistleblower and journalist protections, open data, and digitalization of public expenditures and contracting.
Judicial autonomy, independence, and capacity:
Improve international prosecutorial cooperation, including evidence-sharing through direct collaboration between prosecutors free from interference by the executive branch and the facilitation of plea-bargaining in multiple jurisdictions.
Strengthen judicial independence and autonomy in accordance with inter-American and international standards, including through technical support to improve the selection processes for judges and prosecutors.
Instruments for cooperation: Strengthen existing regional cooperation mechanisms or develop new ones, including:
Create within the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) a new special rapporteurship on human rights and corruption and mandate the IACHR to commission a special report about the nexus between corruption and human rights.
Update the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC) to respond to the new trends in corruption and modernize regional standards to match recent advances incorporated into various international treaties on corruption.
Reform the follow-up mechanism of the IACAC (MESICIC) to make it more independent, transparent, and technical, including through more active and effective civil society participation.
The recommendations of the meeting were then presented two days later to the negotiators from the member states at the second meeting of the Summit Implementation and Review Group (SIRG) meeting, also in Lima. José Ugaz, a Peruvian anti-corruption expert and former chair of Transparency International, presented on behalf of the group.
It was just over a year ago that leaders of 34 nations of the hemisphere gathered in Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. How much progress has been made in the past year on the goals expressed at the summit?