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New GOPAC Chapter in Azerbaijan

GOPAC is proud to announce the launch of GOPAC Azerbaijan, our newest national chapter. GOPAC Azerbaijan members held their inaugural meeting on 12 November 2013, with 20 Members of Parliament in attendance. 
The GOPAC Azerbaijan chapter will be led by Ali Huseynli who was elected Chair of the chapter. Mr Huseynli will be joined on the Executive Committee by Fuad Muradov as Vice-Chair.

Members of Parliament in Papua New Guinea Poised to Join Anti-Corruption Fight

Parliamentarians from Papua New Guinea are keen to further the fight against corruption within their country. They want to build on this month’s introduction of legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by bolstering the oversight role of Members of Parliament (MPs) in preventing and campaigning against corruption.

The second week of December, GOPAC Oceania Chair John Hyde met in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea with Hon Solan Mirisim and Hon Malakai Tabar, legislators from Papua New Guinea, to lay the foundation for the establishment of a GOPAC national chapter in the country. 
Numerous legislators from the country have also shown interest in founding a national chapter, including Hon Phillip Undialu, Hon Francis Marus and former MP Dame Carol Kidu.

Mr Hyde is optimistic that over the next months we will have a new national chapter to celebrate in Papua New Guinea and to welcome to GOPAC Oceania, our regional chapter.

GOPAC Welcomes New Vice-Chair and Board Members 

The GOPAC Board of Directors welcomes the Honourable Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as the new Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors. Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was first elected to the GOPAC Board of Directors in April 2013. In addition to serving our Board, he is also the Chair of the African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption (APNAC) and has been a member of APNAC since 2001. He has a long and accomplished history in parliament in Ghana and we look forward to learning from his knowledge and expertise as he helps shape and guide GOPAC over the next two years.
The Board of Directors also welcomes four new members representing our regional chapters in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. The members from South East Asia Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) are represented by Dr. Pramono Anung Wibawa from Indonesia and HE Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang from Malaysia. In addition to the GOPAC Chair, Ricardo García Cervantes, the members from GOPAC Latin America and the Caribbean are represented by Paula Bertol, from Argentina and Sigfrido Reyes, from El Salvador. 

Anti-Corruption Conference of Caribbean Parliamentarians

Parliamentarians from eight Caribbean countries gathered in Trinidad and Tobago the first week of December for the Anti-Corruption Conference of Caribbean Parliamentarians. GOPAC co-hosted the event with the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago along with support from the British High Commission and the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago.

The conference included workshops on two GOPAC Global Task Force issues: anti-money laundering and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Participants were also introduced to the GOPAC-UNDP Anti-Corruption Assessment Tool for Parliamentarians, a resource developed by GOPAC and the UNDP to support parliamentarians’ oversight role in ensuring the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
One of the conference objectives was to build the foundation for establishing a GOPAC regional chapter in the Caribbean. As a result, the participants appointed a Steering Committee that will develop a Constitution and Plan of Action for the region. Mary King, former Senator of Trinidad and Tobago and Secretary to the GOPAC Board of Directors was appointed Chair of the Steering Committee. She is joined by Parvatee Anmolsingh-Mahabir, former Senator of Trinidad and Tobago, the Hon Dr Dayton Campbell, Member of Parliament in Jamaica, Senator Jester Emmmons from Grenada, the Hon Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Member of Parliament in Guyana, the Hon Emma Hippolyte, Member of Parliament in St Lucia, the Hon Hector John, Member of Parliament in Dominica, the Hon Eustace Lake, Member of Parliament in Antigua and Barbuda, and the Hon James Paul, Member of Parliament in Barbados.
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Forum of Parliamentarians

At the close of November, GOPAC members and stakeholders gathered in Panama City, Panama for the Fifth Forum of Parliamentarians. The event, held in parallel to the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), was an outstanding success with over 80 parliamentarians and stakeholders joining our two panel sessions.

During the first session, participants discussed the challenges of improving accountability; issues with the structure of budget-related committees; and how legislators from different systems address the challenges of a strong executive. The discussions were spurred by presentations by Ricardo García Cervantes, Chair of GOPAC; Hon Kamarudin Jaffar, Chair of GOPAC’s United Nations Convention Against Corruption Global Task Force; and Dr Riccardo Pelizzo, Senior Consultant on Legislative Affairs at the World Bank Institute (WBI).

The first session was also the launch pad for Improving Democratic Accountability Globally, a handbook developed by GOPAC and WBI to support elected officials in congressional systems with their oversight capacity. The handbook is the result of an international study group that was hosted by GOPAC, the World Bank Institute (WBI), and the European Parliament’s Office for the Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy (OPPD).
You can view video of the first session on our YouTube channel.

The second session discussed whether the gravest acts of corruption should be considered crimes against international law.  Luis Moreno Ocampo, First and Former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, opened the discussion and was followed by presentation from Jaganathan Saravanasamy of Interpol, José Carlos Ugaz of Transparency International and Akaash Maharaj, GOPAC’s Executive Director.

The event closed with the unanimous adoption of the Declaration that included GOPAC calling on the United Nations and other international institutions to deem crimes of grand corruption as crimes against the common community of humanity and in violation of universal human rights. Over the next two years, GOPAC will work with our national and regional chapters, partner organizations, and international institutions to implement the Declaration.

You can view video of the second session on our YouTube channel.

GOPAC Addresses Conference of States Parties to the UNCAC

GOPAC Chair, Ricardo García Cervantes, was invited to speak during the General Discussion at the Formal Plenary during the Fifth Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (CoSP to the UNCAC). This invitation, a first for GOPAC, was granted as part of our new status as Special Observer to the CoSP to the UNCAC.

During the address, Mr García Cervantes reaffirmed GOPAC’s willingness, readiness and commitment to advance the implementation of the UNCAC at the parliamentary level. 
He spoke of GOPAC’s commitment to preventing and combating corruption through strengthening institutional capacities and reinforcing public trust in those responsible for the enforcement and administration of justice. He called for greater transparency and asset recovery and reminded all that we should have zero tolerance of corruption.

The full video of Mr García Cervantes’ speech is available in English and Spanish on the GOPAC YouTube channel.

Indonesia Hosts SEAPAC General Assembly

Legislators from across Southeast Asia gathered in Medan, Indonesia, 23-24 October 2013 for the General Assembly of the South East Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC), GOPAC’s regional chapter in Southeast Asia. In addition to representatives from the four GOPAC national chapters in the region – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Timor-Leste – the meeting also welcomed representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Thailand.

The two-day event started with the introduction of the new SEAPAC Executive Committee which was elected at the SEAPAC meeting held in Manila in February 2013. In addition, members reviewed the SEAPAC Action Plan and each national chapter provided a report on their progress to date. 
The event also provided many opportunities for lively discussions and included presentations on political patronage, gender and culture, civil society engagement, and public trust.

At the close of the discussions, members adopted a Declaration that committed to a joint effort among Members of Parliaments in the establishment of a corrupt-free Southeast Asian region.

The next General Assembly of SEAPAC will be held back-to-back to GOPAC’s Sixth Global Conference of Parliamentarians Against Corruption in 2015.
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