Assistant Secretary General Speech


September 13, 2017 - Washington, DC

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Ambassador Antonio Garcia Revilla, National Coordinator of Peru and Chair of the Summits Process
Permanent Representatives and Permanent Observers of the OAS
Distinguished Panelists
Representatives of International Organizations
Civil Society and Social Actors
Ladies and gentlemen,

I first wish to welcome all of you to the Casa de Las Américas. I would also like to thank the Government of Peru and the Inter-American Dialogue for partnering with the OAS to host this Policy Dialogue on Democratic Governance and Corruption. As you know, this is the very timely theme chosen by the host of the next summit of the Americas, Peru, as announced by Foreign Minister Luna at the OAS General Assembly in June.
The threat of corruption to democratic governance in our countries has long been central to the OAS work Plan. Article 4 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter states that "Transparency in government activities, probity, responsible public administration on the part of governments, respect for social rights and freedom of expression and of the press are essential components of the exercise of democracy.”
Corruption is one of the most serious problems facing not only the region but the world in general. It represents an obstacle to development, economic growth, the fight against inequality, the strengthening of institutions and the legitimization of democracy and the political system. (CIES and PUCP, 2011).
According to Transparency International, 69 percent of the 176 countries included in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 scored below a 50 on a scale of 0 to 100 where 50 and above indicate lower levels of corruption. This highlights the evidence of the massive and widespread nature of corruption in the public sector worldwide. For the same period (2016), Latin America shows a decline, with an average score of 44. Only four countries in the region, including Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, presented improvements.
Corruption today is more complex, more visible and sophisticated. Corruption not only affects the public sector, but it is a danger to national development (including the quality of important programs affecting education, health and environment sectors). It also has highly harmful effects on the private sector. Annually, businesses and individuals pay around $ 1.5 trillion in bribes, which is equivalent to 2 percent of global GDP and 10 times the value of development assistance - figures that in some countries in the region appear to be higher. The harm that corruption causes to development is, in fact, a multiple of the estimated figure, given the negative impact of corruption on the poor population and on economic growth. (World Bank, 2017).
Más allá de estos indicadores, la realidad muestra que la corrupción sistémica y la desigualdad social se refuerzan mutuamente, creando un círculo vicioso entre la corrupción, el reparto desigual del poder en la sociedad y la desigualdad en la distribución de la riqueza, provocando a su vez, la decepción de la gente hacia la clase política y el sistema democrático. (Transparencia Internacional, 2016).
La OEA ha jugado y juega un papel central respecto a la corrupción. Destaco, por un lado, el impulso y adopción de la Convención Interamericana contra la Corrupción (CICC)-- primer instrumento jurídico internacional en la materia, adoptado en 1996 y ratificado por 33 de los 34 Estados Miembros de la OEA, así como la creación y funcionamiento del Mecanismo de Seguimiento de la Implementación de la dicha Convención. El MESICIC es un mecanismo de carácter intergubernamental, con amplios espacios de participación para la sociedad civil, que se ocupa de apoyar a los Estados parte en la implementación de la Convención.
Asimismo, destaco los esfuerzos de la OEA para prevenir la corrupción mediante el apoyo al fortalecimiento de las instituciones públicas de la región, a fin de que sean más transparentes, efectivas y cuenten con mecanismos de participación ciudadana; y la realización de misiones electorales y misiones especiales de apoyo a procesos de paz, incluyendo la Misión de Apoyo al Proceso de Paz en Colombia (MAAP/OEA), y más recientemente la Misión de apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras (MACCIH-OEA), creada para fortalecer el sistema de justica en dicho país y desmantelar redes de corrupción, mediante un esquema de colaboración activa.
Despite these efforts, much remains to be done. I welcome the key partners that have joined us for this discussion – the Government of Peru, the Inter-American Dialogue, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the World Bank Group, and the University of the West Indies.
This forum is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the effects of corruption on democratic institutions, governance and the Agenda 2030, in the light of the international and inter-American legal framework on the matter, as well as to suggest concrete courses of action to address this problem.

Thank you.