The need for citizens’ education and awareness was highlighted as one of the ways identified to combat corruption in Grenada and the region.
Representatives from civil society organisations and social actors recently concluded a one-day national consultation organised by the office of the Organisation of American States (OAS) as part of its preparation for the VIII Summit of the Americas, scheduled for early 2018 in Peru.
The consultation focused on Democratic Governance Against Corruption; Corruption and Sustainable Development and Corruption, International Institutions and Public-Private Partnerships.
According to the concept paper submitted prior to the meeting, it underscores the fact that corruption undermines democratic institutions, diminishes government credibility and substantially impacts sustainable development.
According to a World Bank report (http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/governance/brief/anti-corruption), “Businesses and individuals pay an estimated 1.5 trillion dollars in bribes each year.”
The report also noted that the bureaucracy and insufficient transparency linked to corruption also heavily impacts vulnerable populations.
The discussions were also held against the background that the region has been shaken by serious corruption accusations in recent years, which have, in turn, negatively affected the politics, economy and development of the countries of the Hemisphere.
The paper also noted that corruption has become the new transnational threat, thus necessitating effective cooperation to combat this problem.
In reference to Democratic Governance against Corruption, discussions were on the importance of citizen engagement in governance.
Taking into consideration the perception of corruption, credibility and state institutions, participants examined the negative impact of corruption and how it is associated with the weakening of some of the most important indicators for the life of a country, such as: transparency and access to information and public ethics and government efficiency.
In regards to Corruption and Sustainable Development, it was noted that corruption hinders sustainable development and the people’s access to their rights, by engaging a lack of transparency and preventing the participation of diverse sectors of society in the planning and implementation of national and regional policies.
This theme also focused on how the lack of transparency and combating corruption affect, among other things, the people’s effective enjoyment of their human rights, how private companies conduct their business and the risks they undertake and investments costs, specifically including a country’s diminished capacity to attract foreign direct investments.
It was also highlighted that the perceived corruption in a country impairs not only the trust of the citizenry in the state’s ability to govern but also the country’s competitiveness in foreign investment matters.
The focus on Corruption, International Institutions and Public-Private Partnerships was centered on examining the possibilities for international cooperation, joint research and legal reforms, informed by successful experiences, such as those of the European Union and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.
The day’s discussions concluded with recommendations for a rigorous Education and Advocacy against Corruption campaign that will involve a coalition of civil society and community-based organisations and other social actors.
The reach and scope of the campaign will be to focus on leadership, media, students and the general community.
CSOs and Social Actors represented include Grenada Human Rights Organisation (GHRO) Inc, People in Action, Grenada Bar Association, Clozier Development Organisation, Coalition of Services Providers and Grenada Organisation for Consumer Affairs (GRENOCA).
There were also representations from youth organisations and human rights and social justice advocates.