MOBILIZING PEOPLE: CONNECTING AGENTS OF CHANGE
15TH INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION CONFERENCE (IACC) ENDS IN BRASILIA, BRAZIL
The IACC is the world premier forum that brings together heads of state, civil society, the private sector and more to tackle the increasing sophisticated challenges posed by corruption. The idea for the conference first arose among a number of anti-corruption law enforcement agencies, including Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Inspector General for the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) and the New York City Department of Investigations.
Initially, the focus was on law enforcement issues relating to finding solutions on how to develop strategies and tactics to investigate and deter official corruption. The scope of the conference grew quickly to involve the entire spectrum of stakeholders in its effort to combat corruption and fraud throughout the world.
The IACC which takes place every two years, draws attention to corruption by raising awareness and stimulating debate. It fosters the global exchange of experience and methodologies in controlling corruption. It further helps to promote international cooperation among agencies and citizens from all parts of the world, and helping to develop personal relationships by providing the opportunity for face-to-face dialogue and direct liaison between representatives and facilitators at the conference.
DELEGATES AT THE CONFERENCE
The conference attracted over 135 countries with up to 1500 participants from the most sophisticated anti-corruption agencies all over the world. Heads of State, civil society, academics, journalists, business and government representatives were in attendance.
The Sierra Leone delegation with the Commissioner, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, and the founder of TI, Peter Eigen, at the center
The Sierra Leone delegation comprised of three anti-corruption institutions; the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Transparency International (TI) Chapter in Sierra Leone and Global Youth Against Corruption (GYAC). The ACC delegation was headed by the Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, accompanied by the Director of Public Education and Outreach, Mr. Shollay Davies, and the Director of Finance, Mr. Sheku Kanu.
The 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) ended in Brasilia, Brazil with much speculations to end impunity in the world on corruption. This year’s conference has as its theme; “Mobilizing People: Connecting Agents of Change.”
At the opening ceremony, various speakers from government and anti-corruption campaigners spoke very passionately about how to make corruption unacceptable. The Hon. Justice Barry O’Keefe, Chair of the International Anti-Corruption Conference council, reflected on the conclusion of the 14th IACC in Bangkok, Thailand by restating that “Empowered people create change. We recognize that involving people needs time, fresh new ideas and a vibrant civil space. Our role should be to support the people who are willing to change the rules of the game.” These words actually set the stage for the fulfillment of the 15th IACC in Brasilia with renewed commitment to deal with corruption at the global revel.
Making her statement at the conference opening session, the Chair, Transparency International, Huguette Labelle, said that corruption is the single major threat that is destroying our countries. We need clean governments from central to local level and a strong resistance for impunity, she said. Cataloguing the events of the Arab Spring to the Indian Summer and the Occupy Movement, she said that there were many causes behind these demonstrations, but public frustration at corruption and unacceptable leadership was a common thread. Everyone, she said, should be able to speak out against the injustices of corruption. The TI Chair concluded with a fundamental question of “how can we end the devastating effects of corruption around the world?” Much progress has been made in the fight against the scourge but there can be no impunity for the corrupt, no safe heavens, no exceptions to the law. Until this is achieved, our fight must continue, she said.
Other speakers who spoke on measures to deal with corruption at the opening session was the Head of the Office of the Comptroller
General, Brazil , Minister Jorge Hage Sobrinho. According to him, key to the strategies undertaken was the passing of the Access to Information Law and the involvement of civil society in the anti-corruption agenda.
The conference was organized around thematic discussion of various issues in the anti-corruption landscape after the opening. This was co-organized by UNDP together with other partners, who participated in interesting discussions on corruption and anti-corruption. Delegates were free to attend any of the sessions that were of interest to them. The following were the topics for the various plenary sessions;
DAY 1. 7/10/12
• Global Solutions against Corruption
• Mobilizing People: Connecting Agents of Change. Are we Ready?
• Ending Impunity: Are we any closer?
• Powerless to Powerful: Arming citizens to fight corruption in defence and security
• Fight Corruption: Online Tools and Best Practices
• Enlisting Business Education to Combat Corruption: A Global Initiative
• Mobilizing citizens to monitor and report corruption cases in the delivery of aid and basic services
• Does Immunity Lead to Impunity?
• Illicit Financial Flows from Africa-Bleeding a Deprived Continent
• Mobilizing People: Connecting Agents of Change in the oil and mining sectors
• Out of Bounds: Identifying, disrupting and preventing the infiltration of organized crime
DAY 2. 8/10/12
• Collective Action-Making Integrity Work for Business
• Tools, Systems and good practices in CSO Transparency and Accountability
• Corruption in Education: Transparency in the Targeting and Management of Pro-Poor Incentives
• Mainstreaming Gender and Incorporating Grassroots Women’s Perspectives in Global Anti-Corruption Initiatives and Agendas
• Media as Agents of Change: Exposing Corruption, Empowering People
• Preventing the Risks of Corruption in REDD+Financing
• Bringing Closed-Door Dealings to Light: How Transparency Can Change Lobbying Practices
• Corruption and Transformation in the Arab Region: Changing Landscapes and New Horizons
• After Rio+20: On the Way to Green and Clean Governance?
• Corruption in Sports: What’s the Penalty for Society?
• Globalizing the Fight Against Corruption: How MDBs are doing it?
• Challenges and Innovations on Local and Sector-Specific Indexes
• Utilizing International Transparency and Anti-Corruption Standards to Advance Domestic Policy
• Open Government Partnership: Empowering Citizens through Transparency and Civic Participation
• Open Contracting: Driving Development through Disclosure and Participation
• Changing the Rules of the Game: What Rules for Whistleblowers?
• Human Rights and Combating Corruption: Synergies and Solutions to Overcome Impunity
• Connecting Networks for Change: Lessons and Opportunities from the Rise of Transparency and Accountability Networks
• Left out of the Bargain: Settlements in Foreign Bribery Cases
• Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, Making a Difference with Global Governance Frameworks
• Combating Corruption in the Private Sector: Eliminating Impunity through Corporate Anti-Corruption Programmes
• Strengthening Transparency in Political Financing through Innovative Methods of Electoral Observation and Oversight
DAY 3. 9/10/12
• On-line Civic Innovation against Corruption-New Technology to Solve an Old Problem
• Challenges of Legislative Transparency
• Transparency and Accountability: Building a Diverse Coalition of Change
• Whistling Around the World: Growing and International Movement to Connect Whistleblowers with Investigative Journalists
• Enforcing Anti-Corruption Laws-Time for a New Model?
• Putting Governance Back in the MDGs: Tackling Corruption at its Roots in the Post-2025 Agenda
• International Development and Illicit Financial Flows: What to Do?
• After the Transition: The Role of People Power in Dismantling Entrenched Corruption, and Consolidating Democracy, Accountable
Governance and Sustainable Peace
• Dirty Money: A Stolen Future. How to Restore People’s Trust?
• Opening Government for the People: Targeted Transparency Policies for Better Public Service
• Are We Winning or Failing in the Fight against Corruption?
• Transparency as Part of Security Policies-Cases from Latin America
• Access to Information- Going Beyond Laws
• Clean Games Inside and Outside the Stadiums
• Downtown Community: The Camera is Mightier than the Pen..Using Media to Fight Corruption
• Youth, ICT, Music in Anti-Corruption
• Mobilizing Metropolis: New Approaches for Fighting Corruption in the Context of Rapid Urbanization
• Corruption and Health: Good Practice Examples in Different Health Care Settings
• Whistleblowers and Official Secrecy, Corruption and Repression
• After Rio+20: Promoting Transparency and Sustainability in the Water/Energy/Food Security Nexus
• Illicit Financial Flows: Plugging the Leaks to Curtail Corruption and Promote Economic Development
• Societies in Transition: How Corruption Frustrates Change
DAY 4. 10/10/12
• Open Banking and Financial Transparency 2.0
• Social Mobilization and Information Systems
• Joining Forces for Enforcement: Making UNCAC Work
• Preventing Corruption through a Sectorial Approach: Experiences and Voices from the Field
• Electoral Corruption
• Clean Energy Needs Clean Government: Governance Indicators for Delivering Sustainable Energy for All
• Preventing Public Officials from Enjoying the Proceeds of Corruption: What more should the financial sector be doing?
• Fighting the ghosts of the past in new democracies: Information rights and transitional legacies
• People power, Transitions and Corruption: What is our role?
• The Future of Fighting Corruption
• Power to the people: Parliamentarians, Citizens and Anti-Corruption
• How to increase the effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Agencies
• The CONSOCIAL in Brazil-Empowerment and governmental agenda setting on preventing and fighting against corruption
• Global Norms for Transparency
• Tackling Corruption in Sports: Moving Values between the Pitch and the Corridor of Power
• Defining our future: Collectively shaping the global governance agenda
HIGHLIGHTS OF SOME SESSIONS ATTENDED BY THE TEAM
1. Global Solutions against Corruption
Perhaps one of the most interesting plenary sessions on day one of the conference was the session on Global Solutions against Corruption. It was categorically made clear that there is no quick fix measure neither is there a single legislation to combat corruption. Fighting corruption should be everyone’s business. To build a world free of corruption, it needs the collaborative effort of everyone and a practical agenda for change.
Corruption is also gender blind but women are mostly affected when they seek public services in education and other social services. Anti-Corruption Agencies across the world should pay special attention to women affected by corruption.
In terms of dealing with the scourge, prevention is the best but can only be effective if it goes with deterrence and advocacy. Civil society have a role to play in exposing corruption and advocating for change. The noise we often hear in a democracy against corruption is better than the silence in a dictatorship.
Since the last IACC in 2010, a lot has changed in the global fight against corruption. Key among the changes were the Arab Spring which emanated out of increasing discontent against bad leadership and corruption, increasing sanction/litigation on corruption in most countries in the world and emerging markets like China.
2. Media as Agents of Change: Exposing Corruption, Empowering People
The session started with a quote by one of the panelists that “Corruption grows in silence”. This suggest that in societies where the culture of silence is so pervasive, there is tendency for widespread corruption and maladministration.
Many journalists around the world have been killed uncovering corruption and organized crime. A vast majority were killed with impunity and no one was held accountable. In some instances, journalists have been silenced through various means such as legislations dealing with libel/criminal defamation, disproportionate fines, or long prison sentences. Anti-terrorism laws have also been used to inculpate journalists and at extremes they have suffered brutal deaths in the hands of corrupt individuals or groups they expose.
To help journalists to continue to do their job, it is important that the public sector and other stakeholders understand their rights. Access to information should be an imperative and public as well as the private sector institutions should strive to be transparent in their dealings with the public. Impunity needs to be combated and the political will in terms of the rule of law must be observed.
SOME BENEFITS OF THE CONFERENCE
The benefits of this conference are multifaceted and which we gracefully wish to share with our stakeholders, civil society and staff of the Commission who hadn’t the opportunity to be at the conference so that they can buy into our experiences and develop a more formidable front in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. Key among these are;
Fresh/ new ideas:
The team had the opportunity to be exposed to a range of fresh ideas on global initiatives in the fight against corruption. Notable among these include the following;
•The Stolen Assets Recovery (STAR) initiative by the World Bank which clearly describe what the banks should do in preventing money laundering was among the interesting discussion the team benefitted from. The most effective means of reducing corruption is by reducing access to financial institutions by corrupt individuals. It was revealed at the conference that most financial institutions have been non compliant to the FATF recommendations on money laundering in about 60% of the jurisdictions. Some are partially compliant but only two (2) jurisdictions are fully compliant. Three recommendations were proffered, notably the prevention of the entry of stolen wealth by banks which could be difficult, helping to detect illicit wealth and providing a paper trail. In ensuring an effective anti-money laundering regime the scope of application has to be looked into such that rules for PEPS should apply to all banks, insurance companies, mortgage and real estate brokers. The target population should apply to foreign, domestic PEPS and former or current PEPS. Family and close associates can also be targeted. Shifting of presumption of money laundering to the illicit beneficial ownership until proven otherwise can also be helpful in investigating money laundering Nevertheless, the team had the good opportunity to share our country experience in the area of recovery of stolen wealth amounting to Le. 39 Billion from financial institutions. This was received with much approbation.
•Open Contracting through contract monitoring, is one of the flagship of the World Bank interventions in combating corruption. It is worthy to note that procurement is at the nexus between government and business. USD$ 9.5 trillion is utilized annually in the world on contract, yet monitoring for its effectiveness is lacking in most countries. The legal framework, the status of compliance, the capacity to drive the process and the disclosure regime are crucial.
The team benefited from the Uganda experience in their presentation of a model contract monitoring framework which we hope to replicate in Sierra Leone.
The conference offered us the opportunity to network with other anti-corruption agencies and international organizations. The team was able to meet with Ana Bosman of the African Development Bank with whom we shared experiences on ways to address the outflows on oil revenues and the aspect of capacity building for staff of the Commission.
The team also met with Peter Eigen, founder of TI who also expressed the desire to come to Sierra Leone and meet with us to discuss the issue of going beyond the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Sierra Leone. At lunch break in one of the sessions, we had fruitful engagements with an official of the US State Department on possible interventions/initiatives in supporting the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
Two invitations arose from these engagements. The first being an invitation to the Commissioner of the ACC by his counterpart to visit Jamaica and present to its parliament, the effects of prosecutorial powers entrusted to the ACC in order to possibly emulate the Sierra Leonean standard. An invitation was also extended to the Commissioner to deliver a talk in Tunisia at an upcoming African Heads of Anti-Corruption conference organized by the African Development Bank.
Resource materials in the form of books, Videos, journals and software form part of what we benefited from the conference. The resource materials will be very useful to not only staff of the Commission but also to students in the University and other tertiary institutions undertaking research.
END OF CONFERENCE
At the end of the conference, delegates came together to galvanize their resolve to deal with impunity for those who abuse position or power. Below is the declaration code named “The Brasilia Declaration.” See you in Tunisia for the 2016 IACC.
The Brasilia Declaration
15th IACC, November 10, 2012
More than 1,900 people from 140 countries gathered in Brasilia to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time: corruption in
When the International Anti-Corruption Conference last met in Bangkok in 2010, the raging financial crisis made restoring trust an imperative. Since then, as a result of the lessons learned not being put into practice, the world has seen countless examples of trust abused.
Trust continues to be eroded. Many realize that in politics, in sport, in education, and in business, in local offices and global institutions, corruption denies them a voice, well-being and justice. Now more than ever we must bring corruption fighters together to create a more focused effort against the abuse of entrusted power.
People know they can make a difference when they come together in sufficient numbers and with a clear goal.
Citizens, acting in coordination, can more effectively challenge governments, corporations, financial institutions, sports bodies or international organisations that neglect their duty towards them.
By focusing on daily lives and concerns, efforts toward transparency and the fight against corruption empower people. The fight against corruption must mean more than the passing of new laws. It must mean the practice of transparency in day-by-day government activities; and its impact must be felt at every level of society and compel citizens to join forces.
The most vulnerable people in our society, often severely affected by corruption, must be able to hold leaders to their word, and to expose those who go back on promises. To do so they need access to information through a free press, unfettered Internet and other open pathways to inform the public and facilitate the fight against corruption.
Communities must be given the means to hold leaders and institutions accountable for their actions in between elections, as well as multinational companies that profit from operations in their country. We must develop ways to draw corporations into collective action against corruption.
Empowerment of civil society to review the distribution of aid and the extraction of minerals is a key element.
We must take more action to address the effects of corruption on the younger generations and on women since it is they who are disproportionately affected by corruption.
Secrecy in the world of money has meant trillions lost by developing countries. To restore their trust, transparency and accountability must be rooted in the financial system.
In the realm of sports, fans and sponsors, players and athletes need power over the bodies that run their sport. These bodies should be encouraged to lead by example by upholding basic principles of integrity.
“Don’t let them get away with it”
As we gathered this week to discuss issues of concern to all of us — politics and economics, development and sports, responses to climate change and the arms trade — it is clear we all face a common challenge in our work: impunity for those who abuse positions of power.
If impunity is not stopped, we risk the dissolution of the very fabric of society and the rule of law, our trust in our politics and our hope for social justice.
Activists, businesspeople, politicians, public officials, journalists, academics, youth and citizens who gathered in Brasilia to discuss the threat of corruption made it clear that impunity undermines integrity everywhere.
Whether we are investing collective efforts and resources in fighting poverty, human rights violations, climate change or bailing out indebted economies, we need to give the people a reason to believe that impunity will be stopped.
To take this important struggle forward the international anti-corruption community should promote greater people engagement and find ways to provide greater security for anti-corruption activists.
Reducing impunity also requires independent and well-resourced judiciaries that are accountable to the people they serve.
We call on leaders everywhere to embrace not only transparency in public life but a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which leaders are accountable.
We call on the anti-corruption movement to support and protect the activists, whistleblowers and journalists who speak out against corruption, often at great risk.
It is up to all of us in government, business and society to embrace transparency so that it ensures full participation of all people, bringing us together to send a clear message: We are watching those who act with impunity and we will not let them get away with it.
See pics on Photo Gallery