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GOPAC UK Extending a Helping Hand to Ukraine

Over the past four months GOPAC UK has been dedicating much of their work towards fighting corruption at a global level. In particular, corruption issues arising in Ukraine have been of great interest to the members. At a Commons session on 18 March, GOPAC UK member Helen Goodman raised the issue of stolen assets from Ukraine entering the British financial system. Ms. Goodman highlighted the risks posed by illicit funds and urged swift action on asset recovery.
In addition, Co-Chair Anas Sarwar enquired, in written questions to parliament, about the prevention of Ukrainian assets derived through corrupt means entering the UK. He also asked about the implementation of public beneficial ownership registries and the completion of a cross-departmental anti-corruption National Action Plan.

Global Secretariat Hosts Executive Committee Meeting

GOPAC Global Secretariat welcomed the members of the Executive Committee of our Board of Directors to Ottawa 12-13 April. This was the second meeting this fiscal year for the Executive Committee and provided the opportunity for discussions on the organization’s finances, program management and governance.

The meeting was led by GOPAC Chair, Ricardo Garcia Cervantes and attended by Secretary Mary King of Trinidad and Tobago, Treasurer John Hyde of Australia and Chair of Management Committee Dr Naser Al Sane, GOPAC Executive Director, Akaash Maharaj and Global Secretariat Officer Manager Emilie Lemieux. Vice-Chair Hon Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu of Ghana was unable to participate in this quarter’s meeting.
As a result of the meeting, the Global Secretariat will be hiring a fundraiser as part of its staff. The competition for the position should be opening within the coming month. The Executive Committee has also pledged support for new projects being implemented in Ukraine and Timor-Leste as well as renewing their support of the prosecution of corruption as a crime against humanity at the upcoming implementation review of the UNCAC.
Should parliamentarians be permitted to sit on corporate boards while they are elected officials?

Share your thoughts here: GOPAC Question of the Month

The Next Steps in the Fight Against Grand Corruption

In November 2013, GOPAC members resolved to establish grand corruption as a crime of international law and to enable international institutions and alliances to prosecute the guilty. This is a challenging but crucial path—one that will lead to justice, to the enhanced welfare of citizens around the world, and to transparency at the highest levels of government.

In follow-up to these commitments, the Global Secretariat has released a six-point Plan of Action that will be rolled out over the next 2 years.
We will need the support of all our members and partners if we are to succeed. Please join us in championing this important cause!

Visit the Grand Corruption section of our website for updates.

GOPAC at the Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group

This April thousands of government officials, journalists, civil society organizations, and representative from academia and the private sector gathered in Washington, DC for the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) Group. Once again GOPAC was honoured to participate, represented by GOPAC member Dr Donya Aziz from Pakistan and GOPAC Communications Manager Ann Marie Paquet. Together they took the opportunity to build on existing partnerships with the IMF, the WB, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) while building relationships with new organizations such as Women in Parliament Global Forum and TRACE International.

As part of the meeting’s Civil Society Organization program, GOPAC organized the Reducing Corruption through Legislative Engagement panel. The panel focused on the roles that parliamentarians play in reducing corruption in their countries. It also served to promote GOPAC’s recently released Guidelines to Strengthen Oversight through Parliamentarian-Donor Collaboration and position paper Improving Oversight in the Management of Development Aid.
Dr Aziz led off the discussion sharing how parliamentarians can interact with the donor community to improve project implementation. She drew on examples from her experience as a legislator in Pakistan to illustrate the importance of oversight in the management of development aid. She was followed by the Honourable Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, Parliamentary Network on the WB and IMF Board Member from Uganda, who discussed how interaction with WB country offices and IMF missions has positively influenced donor funded programing in Uganda. The panel was wrapped up by Scott Hubli from NDI. He shared information about the Legislative Oversight Working Group, its recently established workplan for the year, and the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness. These are all examples of constructive civil society dialogue that have been triggered by the declaration and the creation of the working group. The event concluded with a lively question and answer period with participants who had joined from civil society organizations and parliaments from around the world.

Cost and Challenges of Corruption in International Affairs

At the beginning of April, GOPAC Executive Director, Akaash Maharaj, was invited to speak at the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian International Council’s (CIC) monthly dinner, in Ottawa, Canada. The CIC is Canada’s foreign relations council. It is an independent, member-based council established to strengthen Canada’s role in global affairs.

Mr Maharaj was joined by Susan Carter, a Director of Transparency International Canada and a former Associate Director of the Canadian Council on Social Development, for a discussion on global corruption. Together they sought to explore whether corruption is driving the proliferation of civil conflicts and the rise of fundamentalist movements; whether international affairs are driven more by theft and plunder than ideology and identity; and, what Canada can do to ensure transparency, accountability and legality.
Mr Maharaj spoke of the financial and social costs of corruption. From actual dollar amounts to the destruction of public trust, Mr Maharaj painted a realistic picture of what corrupt acts are costing nations and their people. However, he also spoke of the good that is being done to strengthen the rule of law, prosecute offenders and fight corruption. Looking to the future, Maharaj suggested a number of methods that could be implemented to counter corruption including: universal jurisdiction for war crimes, the use of regional courts, and labelling grand corruption as a crime against humanity.

ARPAC Hosts Codes of Conduct Workshop in Jordan

On 6-7 March 2014 in Amman, Jordan, Arab Region Parliamentarians Against Corruption (ARPAC) organized a workshop to train parliamentarians in the region to develop codes of conduct. The event was organized in partnership with Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). Participants included representatives from the Yemen Parliament, the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia and the Libya General National Congress.

The workshop explored the importance of a code of conduct and the ways one can be adopted. It also examined the impact codes of conduct have on parliamentary performance. At the end of the workshop, participants were divided into groups by country and each developed a future action plan for developing and adopting a code of conduct.
 
As a result of the event, YEMENPAC, the Yemeni chapter of ARPAC, developed a code of conduct to be adopted by the Yemen Parliament. Participants from Libya and Tunisia prepared a questionnaire on political ethics for MPs and ministers in their respective jurisdictions.

ARPAC Participates in World Bank Roundtable on Parliamentary Financial Oversight

GOPAC Board Member, Dr Naser Al Sane, participated in a roundtable on parliamentary financial oversight organized by the World Bank on 20 March 2014, in Beirut, Lebanon. The roundtable was also attended by the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee of the Parliament of Lebanon, judges from the Court of Audit, and representatives from the Ministry of Finance in Lebanon, in addition to a number of experts in governance and public finance from the World Bank.

In the first session, participants discussed the challenges and opportunities of strengthening parliamentary financial oversight and the importance of establishing cooperative and effective relationships between Parliament, the Ministry of Finance, and the Court of Audit. International experiences and good practices of supreme audit institutions and the formation of parliamentary public accounts and finance committees were also presented. 
The second session of the roundtable focused on the exchange of knowledge and strengthening capacities through cooperation with regional and global networks. Dr Al Sane spoke about the role of ARPAC as a parliamentary alliance that was formed for a particular and very specific purpose, enumerating the fundamental areas in which the organization operates, especially improving parliamentarians’ skills through trainings and necessary tools to enable them to fight corruption. He also spoke about ARPAC’s experiences in improving parliamentary oversight on a national level (Kuwait, Morocco and Yemen), as well as on a regional level where the organization implemented regional programs on financial oversight and developed a set of evidence-based tools with a view to strengthen the capacities of parliamentarians in financial oversight.

Recent Reforms in Azerbaijan in the Fight Against Corruption

Our GOPAC chapter in Azerbaijan is still relatively new but our members there are taking an active role in fighting corruption and promoting good governance in their country. The Chair of GOPAC Azerbaijan, the Hon. Ali Huseynli recently participated in the drafting process of a new law that increases the status of the Anti-Corruption Department under the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This will help to strengthen the fight against corruption in Azerbaijan.
In addition, GOPAC Azerbaijan supported the establishment of the Electronic Court, an electronic information system that increases transparency between citizens and the judicial system. Citizens can use the system to identify at which stage their case is in legal proceedings and how it is being treated.

Help Guide Discussions at UNCAC Implementation Review Group Briefing for NGOs

Are development partners using the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) framework in defining in-country development goals and priorities? The UNCAC Coalition would like you to share your thoughts on the subject. The UNCAC Coalition’s Secretariat will be compiling comments to input into the Implementation Review Group Briefing for NGOs that will take place in Vienna on 5 June 2014.

In November 2013, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a Guidance Note for Development Partners about using the UN Convention against Corruption for technical assistance and anti-corruption programming. The note aims to bridge the gap between the UNCAC, its review mechanism and donor support in-country. It looks at options for interventions and activities. The term “development partners” is used in the Guidance Note to mean diplomatic missions, national and international donors, as well as technical cooperation agencies and international organizations and financial institutions.
 
The UNCAC Coalition asks you to show this Guidance Note to donor representatives or the donor roundtable in your country, if you are in an aid-recipient country, OR to your government’s development assistance agency, if you are in a donor country.
Please ask them:
  1. Are they using the UNCAC and the UNCAC review results in discussions with recipient countries about development programming?
  2. If so, which donors engage with recipient countries about the UNCAC, how do they do it and what are the results of the discussions?

It would also be helpful if those of you in donor countries could share the Guidance Note with development NGO platforms and ask them if they know whether the UNCAC is being used in development programming and if so, where.

If you think appropriate, you might link your inquiry to any “post-2015” discussions that are under way in your country. UNCAC implementation/monitoring could be used as a benchmark for any commitments that might be agreed on in governance/anti-corruption.

Please contact the UNCAC Coalition Secretariat and let them know what you are able to find out about donor practices by writing to James Celer by 15 May 2014.

Resilient Economies for Inclusive Societies

GOPAC has been invited to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum 2014 in Paris, France, 5-6 May. The Forum, entitled Resilient Economies for Inclusive Societies, has been organised around three cross-cutting themes: Inclusive Growth,
Jobs, and Trust, exploring the multifaceted nature of resilience and how to now “bounce forward” in addressing economic, social, and environmental challenges.

To register, visit the OECD Forum website today. 
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