26-27 October 2009, Istanbul, Turkey
The MENA Regional Conference on Integrity: Building a Cleaner Public Sector was jointly organised between the OECD, the Foreign Relations Department of the Prime Ministry and the Council of Ethics for Public Service of the Government of Turkey.
The Regional Conference provided an opportunity for experts from MENA and OECD governments to:
- Identify common challenges in implementing integrity measures in MENA and OECD countries, especially related to implementing integrity standards in the public administration and enhancing transparency and integrity in public procurement;
- Share experiences and good practices that have proved successful in overcoming these challenges;
- Extract key MENA regional lessons on up-to-date solutions for advancing integrity initiatives in the public sector and communicating these lessons at forthcoming meetings, in particular the Global Forum VI on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity organised in November 2009, in Doha, Qatar in preparation for the UNCAC Conference of State Parties and the MENA-OECD Ministerial Conference: Beyond the Crisis: Business and Citizens at the Centre of Policy Responses, held on 23 November 2009 in Marrakech, Morocco(www.oecd.org/mena/ministerial2009).
The MENA Regional Conference gathered 60 representatives of MENA and OECD Governments, International Organisations, Donors, Private Sector, Non-Governmental Organisation and Academics.
Participants recognised that both MENA and OECD countries are facing gaps when implementing integrity instruments in their public administration. Discussions highlighted that the implementation gaps have to be measured at the organisational level, in line with the approach of the OECD Integrity Framework (pdf). To bridge these implementation gaps, participants of the Regional Conference reached consensus on the following points:
- Integrity instruments could not be effectively implemented without taking a systemic approach and embedding these measures in a supportive public governance environment. To achieve this, transparent public finance, merit-based human resources policies, rules of law and political stability, as well as governmental and non-governmental control mechanisms, need to be put in place.
- Reliable data and evidence are needed to better understand why integrity standards are not properly implemented. This data can be based on academic and policy research as well as on processes and methodologies that the OECD has developed, in particular the OECD peer review. MENA countries, including Yemen, Jordan and Morocco presented findings of ongoing Joint Learning Study (JLS) projects and highlighted the importance of the JLS methodology to provide an objective assessment, advance national reforms and promote cooperation between their national institutions and actors.
- Effective implementation of integrity standards requires high-level political support (“top-down approach”). However, this approach needs to be combined with a bottom-up approach, as civil servants will only comply with these standards if they feel that they play an integral role in the process. This can be ensured by the early involvement of civil servants in policy making.
- Participants recognised the need to mobilise non-governmental stakeholders – including NGOs, the private sector, trade unions and academics – in the design and implementation of pro-integrity measures and reforms. They play an essential role in exercising public scrutiny and accountability.
- Although the current financial crisis is having an impact on countries around the globe, including those in the MENA region, it is also providing an opportunity to redesign national integrity frameworks and to reinforce the role of corruption prevention policies.
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