|Creating an anti-corruption ethos: Civil society and donors working together|
As the first speaker, Phil Mason outlined the joint anti-corruption concept put together by the like-minded so-called Utstein Group (Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom) which produced a joint anti-corruption policy in May 2000 with four strategic objectives:
Mason expected from the participants of the workshop concert proposals on how to change and thus improve donors' procedures and policies. He wanted official channels of DFID, so they could be discussed within the Utstein Group.
As the next panelist, Patrick Alley demonstrated from his experience how awareness building in alliance with official donors' support can curb illegal logging. The cited example was Cambodia, where Global Witness, through a constant and careful spread of information on illegal logging and lobbying in Cambodia herself and with international and bilateral donors and agencies illegal logging has today become more difficult. Global Witness was finally appointed by several donors and is reporting to the government on its findings on logging. The organisation has been asked to undertake a similar monitoring process in Cameroon.
Thus, through the combination of "watchdog" NGOs with an awareness campaign vis-a-vis donors corruption could be curbed, if donors take up the issue as a strong tool and discuss it energetically with the respective government. Mr. Alley warned however, that the pressure had to be maintained. Otherwise, if the issue at stake would be followed up only half heartedly, the evil would only be exacerbated.
The next speaker, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, suggested to group the fight against corruption under three broad areas:
Mr. Asamoa drew the attention of the participants to the problem that civil society often does not have the capacity for proper monitoring and requested that this capacity be further increased. The measures could include, among others:
Ghassam Moukheiber concentrated his remarks on the relationship between donors and CSOs. The latter are often acting like quasi state institutions. Major problems could arise through the different perceptions donors have of the CSOs with whom they co-operate (non-profit oriented, efficient implementation, visibility, accountability) and the CSOs' visions of their own role (participation, transparency, accountability).
CSOs face internal and external problems. External: lack of freedom of association, undue regulatory obstacles to funding especially from abroad, government approval required for projects). Internal: partly no democratic structures, non-membership based, lack of appropriate bye-laws and constitutions.
Often CSOs who do not support government policies or have the so-called watchdog functions suffer from regulatory hindrances and thus are not visible. As a result, the proper CSOs may be overlooked by donors and therefore not be supported.
The panelist requested:
Strongly endorsed was the request of strengthening the capacities and the professionalism of CSOs. Different examples were cited where this is happening. This relates to issues like developing a code of conduct for CSOs, strengthening the professionalism through university courses (with a certificate), the establishment of a CSO resource centre (Lebanon). ToR for CSOs should not be too narrow in order to leave room for their development.
Also stressed was the necessity to support the "right'" CSOs which promote development and peace in their country.
Attention was drawn on the possible danger, that too strong an emphasis on endorsing professionalism may have negative effects on the capacity of CSOs to reach the grassroots. Instead, "traditional structures" should be used and maintained.
Attention should be taken to avoid creating "islands of integrity".
A participant suggested breaking down the aid process into different stages where corruption might and could take place. This would allow to better locate the occasions and reasons for corruption. At each of these steps, CSOs should participate. The first one would be the conceptional stage as the most important one, followed by the implementation stage, its preparation (tender and procurement) the implementation itself, etc. One important element to enable the CSOs to participate in this process at equal level with government and donors would be sufficient training in order for them to reach the necessary professionalism.
Main Themes Covered