EILEEN O’CONNOR: “INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS HAVE TO STOP TOLERATING CORRUPTION”
The president of the International Center for Journalists and former correspondent for CNN at the White House and Moscow, Eileen O’Connor, stated this afternoon that, “international organizations have to stop tolerating corruption, which should not be accepted under any circumstances.” O’Connor made these declarations in the context of conclusions of itinerary 8 of the Dialogue, “Contributing to the Global Agenda”, which comes to a close tomorrow, Sunday, at the Forum in Barcelona.
Eileen O’Connor stated that, “morality in schools needs to be improved and greater emphasis needs to be placed on education” in order to create a social climate against corruption. O’Connor, a renowned journalist, pointed out that corruption is an abuse of power and that even “on a small scale it has a devastating effect economically and socially.” O’connor also said that corruption does not generate growth, but rather destroys local economies and this ends up having global consequences. She said that it is very beneficial for international institutions to collaborate and help private institutions fight against corruption.
During the same session, entitled “The repatriation of stolen goods: are international mechanisms an aid or an obstacle?”, Akere Muna spoke about the Convention of the African Union against corruption as an essential instrument for fighting against national corruption in an international context. More specifically, Muna, a lawyer and president of Transparency International in Cameroon, stated that the Convention was approved in 2003, with 32 signers, though only 4 countries ratified. Muna holds that many governments are afraid because the Convention is very powerful, and because fifteen conditions must be met in order to be ratified.
The Convention contains some particularly noteworthy articles, such as the article six, which is about money laundering and which defines corruption as: “two actors are necessary, in other words one gives and the other receives”, and that “both are liable to be punished."
The main goals of the Convention are “prevision, punishment, operation and education”, stated Akere Muna. The Convention is applied to “punishable crimes: bribery, swindling, unlawful appropriation, etc.”, he added. Menu believes international cooperation that refers to the Convention is necessary such that states interact not only on a state level but also in all areas of society.
The Convention proposes double control of corruption—national control through autonomous authorities and international control in the African Union, which is currently comprised of 53 countries. “Corruption is like AIDS. They are similar because they have negative affects. AIDS affects the human body and corruption affects the economic system,” stated Muna. He holds that the Convention is one of the best weapons the African continent has for combating corruption.
Catherine Volz, the director of the UN’s Treaties Division against Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), holds that regional conventions often work much better than internationals ones because they are less complex and are more specific. However, Volz did point out the importance of international conventions in fighting against corruption, as does the convention of her division.
Volz holds that the importance of international conventions lies in the fact the flow of money that moves corruption goes beyond borders. “There is a lot of money at stake, but it does not stay in a sole country because it is hidden in fiscal paradises,” she stated.
Catherine Volz said that the anti-corruption agreement of the United Nations was finally signed twelve years ago by 101 countries, but it has not yet become valid because at least 30 countries still need to ratify it.
In Catherine’s opinion, one of the positive aspects of this agreement is that, contrary to the African convention, it does not contain an explicit definition of corruption, and, thus, it encompasses all sorts of crimes associated with corruption.
Daniel Kaufmann, the director of Global Governance and Regional Learning of the World Bank Institute, participated in the session via videoconference from Washington. Kaufmann claims that governability is essential for regions to develop, “which has been proven empirically”. Kaufmann holds that, even though the Washington consensus did not initially contemplate the issue of transparency within global governability, this is now changing thanks to actions such as those of Transparency International. “In the early 1990s the word corruption could not even be written, but in 1996, the president of the World Bank used this word during an institutional speech”, and things started to change. Kaufmann stressed that corruption is also an essential aspect of governing for security reasons.
Kaufmann made an effort to take the myth out of certain aspects of corruption, such as the belief that “a country is corrupt out of nature or because its inherent in its culture”. Another myth, according to him, is that “having more laws is the way to combat corruption”, because there are other tools for fighting it. An example of these are indexes that make it possible contrast empirical data, as well as collective action between states, civil societies and the private sector, as well as the reform of political funding, and, the fact that international institutions such as G-7, OCED, and the World Bank take on responsibility.