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GOPAC Welcomes New Partnership with the Islamic Development Bank

GOPAC is pleased to announce that it has forged an alliance with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), one that will be integral in helping to further the fight against corruption. GOPAC will work closely with the IDB’s Group Integrity Office to implement a project to improve oversight measures in the management of development aid. The project will be carried out over the course of a two-year period and will focus specifically on countries that are part of the Arab Region Parliamentarians Against Corruption (ARPAC) and the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC), two of GOPAC’s regional chapters.

One of the leading objectives of the initiative will be to produce various knowledge products, which include capacity building exercises, seminars, conferences and events, handbooks, and online resource portals. Also, GOPAC and the IDB will encourage and facilitate the sharing of successes and lessons learned between ARPAC and SEAPAC with regards to parliamentarian-donor collaboration efforts and guide members from these chapters in preparing country-specific action plans.

Through their collaboration, GOPAC and the IDB aim to empower parliamentarians in these regions to 
increase transparency, accountability, and effective oversight of projects funded by donor agencies. By enhancing their knowledge of the intended outcomes and progress of donor-funded projects, these parliamentarians will be equipped to ensure corrupt and fraudulent practices in the management of development aid are halted.

The IDB is a multilateral development financing organization and supports initiatives to raise economic development and promote social progress in its 56 member countries. The organization is based in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and operates four regional offices in Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, and Senegal and five country gateway offices in Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Turkey. Also, the IDB employs field representatives in thirteen of its member countries. In addition to being a permanent member of the Ethics Network of Multilateral Organizations (ENMO), the IDB gained permanent observer status with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and GOPAC.

GOPAC Releases Position Paper on Oversight of Defense and Security Sectors

On 23 February, GOPAC launched its sixth position paper entitled Oversight is the Continuation of Democracy by Other Means. This latest paper calls on parliamentarians from across the world to put into place oversight mechanisms to ensure that corrupt practices can no longer thrive in the defence and security sectors. The paper highlights that a significant lack of transparency and oversight exist in these particular sectors and parliamentarians need to exercise to the fullest extent their role in fostering debate and demanding for legislation to be passed.

Although there is certainly a need for secrecy in the defence and security sectors, legislators must balance this need with the one of holding public institutions to account. If parliamentarians focus solely on maintaining high levels of secrecy, this can result in a breeding ground for corruption and can ultimately compromise the integrity of these important sectors. Such corrupt practices can lead to devastating consequences, especially for the citizenry, including human rights violations and the suppression of liberties.
Among the eight recommendations listed at the close of the paper, GOPAC is urging parliamentarians to prioritise the following in their oversight work:
  • Advocate for internal, independent and impartial resources within parliament that facilitate the role of parliamentarians in the review of defence and security sector issues;
  • Strengthen measures that prevent conflicts of interest, e.g. instituting rules for a moratorium period following involvement in defence and/or security committee related business;
  • Make effective control of the international arms trade a high priority on the parliamentary agenda and establish a process for ongoing review, sanctions, and restrictions.
We invite you to read our latest position paper and share it with your colleagues. A copy of the paper is available on our website: http://gopacnetwork.org/Docs/
PositionPapers/PP_GTFPO_Defence/
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GOPAC Board Member Paula Bertol featured in Making a Difference Video Series

GOPAC is launching the second installment of its Making a Difference video series, which features Paula Bertol, the Chair of GOPAC Argentina. Ms Bertol is also a member of the GOPAC Board of Directors and the Vice-Chair of GOPAC Latin America and the Caribbean. She served as a Member of Parliament in the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina from 2005 to 2009 and was re-elected for a second term from 2009 to 2013. Her political career spans nearly three decades and she has been actively involved in GOPAC for the past three years.

Ms Bertol explains in the video that she knew from a young age that she wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of Argentines. In order to accomplish this goal, she believed that she needed to become fully engaged in politics and has since been a strong advocate of women being an integral part of the political process in Argentina.

She mentions that in Transparency International’s (TI) 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, Argentina ranks 107th out of 175 countries and achieved a score of 34, which indicates that in general terms, the country experiences a high level of corruption. 
She goes on to say that the lack of transparency in the legislative branch is a serious issue and that cases brought before the judiciary often fail to be processed or are often purged.

Ms Bertol recounts her first experience witnessing an act of corruption. While working for a local politician in her youth, she was asked to no longer report to his office to perform her duties as he preferred not to work with women. He offered to keep providing a paycheck without requiring her do any work. In addition to being subjected to sexism, Ms Bertol says that this was also, without a doubt, an act of corruption.

Furthermore, she discusses GOPAC Argentina’s projects and successes, the benefits of being part of a GOPAC regional chapter, and what she hopes to achieve in the coming years as a GOPAC member in Argentina.


Expert Meetings on Prosecuting Perpetrators of Grand Corruption

In a quest for justice and accountability in specific grand corruption cases, Transparency International (TI) in partnership with GOPAC and Global Witness held expert meetings 23-25 January, 2015 in New York City. The overall objective of these meetings was to help identify ways for systemic reforms to address the problem of impunity, which often goes hand-in-hand with corruption. 

A group of 20 international legal experts from the International Criminal Court, United Nations tribunals, and constitutional courts developed a working draft of a legal definition of the crime of grand corruption, which will be finalized and disseminated in the months to come. 
This was followed-up by a discussion on how international organizations could work together to prosecute the worst perpetrators of corruption. For example, TI would be well suited to engage members of civil society and GOPAC would be able to lead parliamentary and diplomatic implementation. GOPAC intends on presenting a plan of action for parliamentarians at the next Global Conference.

As GOPAC pursues several of the options adopted at the fifth Forum of Parliamentarians in 2013, we call on you, our members and partners to help us. Please visit the #PreventProsecuteParalyze campaign website today and share this link with your contacts.
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