In mid-February, GOPAC Oceania and the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC), with the collaboration of the Samoan National Youth Council and the Samoan Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organisations organised two integrity-building workshops in Apia, Samoa led by GOPAC Oceania Chair John Hyde and Anti-Corruption Pacific Regional Advisor Annika Wythes. They informed participants, many of whom are representatives of government, on how issues relating to corruption can be tackled at the country-level and fostered engagement with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which Samoa has yet to ratify.
Ms Wythes stressed that raising awareness is key to enabling individuals to detect and end corrupt practices and that although corruption
is not a new scourge, it is however being discussed in a way that it never has. “There is clear evidence that shows how corruption undermines development and sustains poverty. It inhibits economic growth, drives political instability, impacts the delivery of services, and undermines good governance and the rule of law,” said Ms Wythes.
GOPAC Mexico Chair Engages Legislators, Experts, and Youth in Fight Against Corruption
Dr Carlos Alberto Perez Cuevas, Chair of GOPAC Mexico, addressed the Permanent Conference of Local Congresses of Mexico (COPECOL) which unites the 31 local congresses and the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City. He discussed anti-corruption legislation, capacity-building models for parliamentarians, and how to better engage with and promote civil society participation. He invited legislators to join GOPAC Mexicoís efforts to fight corruption domestically and take part in this important global movement.
Dr Perez Cuevas also participated in the conference Ethics and Political Corruption: A Paradigm Shift organised by the University of Lumen Gentium where he exposed the scale of corruption globally and in Mexico, and
discussed the critical steps that need to be taken to stop corruption in its track. He then addressed over 400 youth at the conference Corruption and Ethics in the Public Service held at the Senate of Mexico. He took the opportunity to look back at achievements that have addressed corruption and to look forward at persisting challenges allowing youth to reflect on social issues and social compromise for their resolution.
Dr Perez Cuevas wrapped up his extensive efforts to engage legislators, experts, and youth in the fight against corruption this month by participating in a debate on corruption and impunity in the Mexican program Y usted que opina.
GOPAC CEO Participates in Discussions on Parliamentary Strengthening
On 17 March, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy invited a panel of speakers at the High Commission of Canada in London, England to examine the crucial role parliaments play in combatting corruption. GOPAC Chief Executive Officer Akaash Maharaj presented alongside Stepen Twigg MP, Chair of the UK International Development Committee, Rachel Davies, Senior Advocacy Manager at Transparency International, and Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in Nigeria.
Mr Maharaj remarked that curbing political corruption not only entails tracking financial transactions, it is also necessary to keep a close eye on the use of power in any given society. “Legislators are led by the societies they represent, they are led by public opinion, but they shape it too. They are responsible for the context where corruption either flourished or perishes,” argued Mr Maharaj.
All African Parliamentary Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals
From 9-11 March, the African Parliamentariansí Network Against Corruption (APNAC) was among the participants of the All African Parliamentary Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held in Abuja, Nigeria. APNAC was represented by Fabrice Fifonsi, the Executive Director of the regional chapter. The conference sought to increase parliamentary awareness and encourage concrete actions of national and regional government bodies in the domestication, integration, and implementation of the SDGs at the national level. It also provided opportunities for legislators to share
experiences and build a common strategy for parliamentary engagement with the SDGs within an African context.
Mr Fifonsi participated in a panel session titled Addressing Socio-Economic Inequalities in Africa: The Role of Parliamentarians. He stressed that there is a need to improve female involvement in the SDGs, capacity-building efforts of parliamentarians regarding the post-2015 development agenda, and inclusiveness in consultative processes.
GOPAC Oceania Furthers Chapter Development in Thailand
In early March, GOPAC Oceania Chair and member of the Executive Committee John Hyde met with GOPAC parliamentarians from the National Assembly of Thailand, who have now formed an interim steering committee to establish a national chapter and have progressed their work plan and constitution. In recent years, GOPAC parliamentarians in the former Thai House of Representatives and Senate have actively participated
in GOPAC activities and Mr Hyde believes that the new Parliament, once established, will greatly benefit from having a GOPAC national chapter, especially in regards to UNCAC engagement. “As we are entering into a new phase of UNCAC national assessments, Thai parliamentarians want to ensure that legislators are actively involved in UNCAC implementation,” said Mr Hyde.
GOPAC Executive Committee Members Attend IPU Assembly
GOPAC Chair H.E. Fadli Zon and Vice-Chair the Honourable Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu both took part in the 134th Inter-Parliamentary Unionís Assembly in Lusaka, Zambia from 19-23 March. The conference gave particular attention to youth empowerment and involvement in politics and the political economy and the Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu
addressed the conference on behalf of GOPAC on the importance of engaging youth in our anti-corruption efforts. Additionally, Mr Zon had the opportunity to meet with IPU President Saber Chowdhury and they committed to collaborate on SDGs, particularly goal 16 on promoting good governance.