Fighting corruption in the public sector has become a frontline issue in MENA countries over the past five years. One driving factor has been a shift in the mindset of governments from admitting the existence of corruption to recognising that corruption hinders economic and social development, distorts markets and competition and undermines the legitimacy and credibility of governments. A second driver has been the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), ratified between 2004 and 2009 by a large number of countries in the MENA region. The ratification of this international binding agreement has pushed MENA countries to adopt anticorruption and integrity measures. These mainly focus on reforming the legislative and institutional framework and reinforcing a culture of integrity in the civil service, as described in Chapter 4.
Jordan is considered a pioneer country in governance reforms in the MENA region. In 2006, under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Sector Development (MoPSD) and the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), Jordan issued a code of conduct and ethics in the civil service and launched a campaign against wasta (favouritism). The code aims to enhance integrity in the civil service and closes loopholes in
the Civil Service law on accepting gifts and conflict of interest.
The Moroccan government established a Central Agency for Corruption Prevention (ICPC) in 2007. The plenary assembly of the ICPC is composed of representatives of line ministries, professional associations, and members appointed by the Prime Minister to represent civil society, academia, corruption prevention NGOs and the Ombudsman Bureau. The ICPC’s main objectives are to propose strategic directions for a corruption prevention policy, build a database on all information related to corruption, inform the judiciary of
corruption cases and organise corruption awareness campaigns. In 2007 Morocco also adopted a new transparent procurement system which outlines the conditions and terms for awarding government contracts and rules governing their management and control.
In 2006 Yemen developed a comprehensive governmental National Reform Agenda (NRA), with the collaboration of its international development partners. The NRA’s central anti-corruption and integrity component pledges the Government of Yemen to reform the legislative framework to make it more effective in preventing corruption. The government started its reform by adopting an anti-corruption law which clearly defines corruption, creates an anti-corruption agency, protects “whistle-blowers” and prohibits former public servants from benefitting personally from their previous posts. Yemen has also adopted a law on financial disclosure that requires all senior public officials, including the president, to complete financial statements.