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Lima, Peru – A historic wave of corruption scandals across the Americas is eroding trust in public institutions, unleashing new citizen demands to improve governance and rule of law. We have before us an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of the costs of corruption and take concrete steps to combat it.
In April 2018, at the VIII Summit of the Americas, Peru will host the countries of the hemisphere for critical discussions around the theme of “Democratic Governance Against Corruption.” We urge the Summit negotiators to deliver concrete, measurable commitments through a plan of action that shows the people of the Americas that their leaders are committed to improving transparency and accountability. To support that process, we met in Lima, Peru on October 30-31, to propose anti-corruption policy recommendations for the Summit.
The governments of the Americas have a rare opportunity to pursue specific, discrete, and actionable policy changes. 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.
Our recommendations fit within three main lines of action:
- 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.
In the implementation of these recommendations, countries should involve all branches of government—including judiciaries and legislatures—as well as citizenries to strengthen political and social oversight. At the same time, we recognize the importance of the private sector in the shared responsibility to combat corruption.
We commend the Government of Peru for its leadership in driving this effort to develop specific, concrete actions against corruption within the framework of the Summit of the Americas, and encourage all leaders in the hemisphere to join them in this effort. We believe the peoples of the Americas are united in their determination to leave to future generations societies that are more just, more secure, more democratic, and more transparent than ever before.