13/04/2007 - The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) signed an agreement today to strengthen the fight against corruption in the Americas. The memorandum of understanding establishes a legal framework in which both entities will work together in anti-corruption efforts as well as state modernisation.
"This has to do with two interrelated and critical issues for the consolidation of democratic governance, economic growth and the social development of our countries," OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza said during a brief ceremony at the regional body's headquarters.
Insulza explained that these issues "are very important so that our democracies are not only democracies from an electoral point of view, but also countries that are able to continue developing political and civilian citizenship and citizen participation."
In terms of state modernisation, both organisations identified several areas of potential co-operation, including E-government; public employment and management; budgeting and public expenditures; and open government and citizen participation, among others.
On the anti-corruption front, the organisations will work together more closely on issues related to their respective international treaties against corruption-the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and the OAS Inter-American Convention against Corruption-including prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption crimes. Co-operation will also focus on avoiding conflicts of interest; promoting integrity through transparency and accountability; and enhancing resistance to corruption in risk areas such as public procurement, contract management and lobbying.
OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, noted that the OECD has a long history of fighting corruption globally. In the Americas Region, the OECD already counts Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Mexico, and the United States among the 36 signatories of its anti-bribery convention. However, he stressed the importance of being able to expand efforts in this region, "because we only have one Latin American member country in the OECD - Mexico. This is a very exciting and very important opportunity to work with a major regional institution on this crucial global issue," he said.
Secretary General Insulza reiterated that the fight against corruption is a high-priority issue within the OAS, noting that the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, adopted in 1996, was the first treaty of its kind in the world. This treaty "has become the navigational chart of our collective action in this field," noted Insulza, adding that it has been ratified by 33 of the 34 OAS member countries.
The OECD, like the OAS, has long been committed to the fight against corruption. In 1997 the OECD created the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and continues to monitor its enforcement through regular meetings of its Working Group on Bribery.
Likewise, both organisations have pushed for state modernisation, an important step towards ensuring greater efficiency and transparency.
The agreement signed between the OAS and OECD is the latest chapter of co-operation between the two organisations that began in 1963. Recent collaborative efforts include a series of conferences and seminars on international bribery investigations held in Argentina in December 2005 and Chile in September 2006, and a May 2004 meeting in Brazil on conflict-of-interest issues.