|Strengthening Civil Society and the Role of the Media
Ekaterina Genieva, President, Open Society Fund Russia, Transparency International Advisory Council, Russia - Chair
Closing Plenary and Handover Ceremony
Marie Bohata, Head of the Czech Statistical Office, The Czech Republic - Chair
I feel honored to chair the last working plenary session at this extremely important world international conference on anti-corruption. First of all, I would like to congratulate the organizers because, as I have heard from many participants, this has been really working conference where lots of issues concerning corruption, opposition, the issues of mentality, education, banking systems, different issues in connection with national chapters have been discussed. Many practical ideas were taken from this work.
Considering this is the last working plenary session of this conference, I am convinced that our distinguished speakers will provide some recommendations and their global overall ideas in connection with the topics that have been discussed in the previous conferences and that will be discussed after that. I give the floor to Chairman of the Board of Transparency International Secretariat, the person who is a real driving force of these conferences - to Peter Eigen, who agreed to give the keynote speech.
Thank you very much, Katia. I would like to express my personal thanks to all of you for having created a tremendous spirit of enthusiasm in our fight against corruption, which is extremely rewarding and which also energizes us until we meet next time in Korea. This is a civil society conference; this is a conference which is extremely open. What we have seen in the streets of Prague, when we spoke to the people, when we presented Art for Transparency to the people of Prague, when we went with them to movie houses in order to select the best anti-corruption film, when we opened the doors of this hall to people who wanted to participate in our discussion, was a stark contrast to what we saw about a year ago, when large groups of civil society organizations were trying to make a strong protest against what they consider to be an unjust and unfair development of a global world.
This is also quite evident from the speeches that we have heard here, from this place or in various workshops, no words were minced, a spade was called a spade as we said many times, there was no diplomacy, no protocol, we were after the truth and we were frank to each other, even when it hurt from time to time. I think this is a sign of how strong civil society organizations are if they take the right approach to making an impact on creating a better world. And this is what I would like to focus my speech on.
The media and civil society organizations are the closest of allies, the media are our strongest partners, without the media we would be practically helpless in our attempt to move things in a concrete way. So, there is a tremendous synergy between a strong, professional media in a given society or worldwide and what civil society organizations are trying to do. But it would be fool-hearted if we did not also see that there are areas where we can be counterproductive to each other. I remind you for instance that the media tend to look very much for violent, dramatic confrontations with civil society, and have created in the aftermath of Seattle, Quebec, Copenhagen and Genoa a mood which gives many people in the world the feeling that NGOs are basically something which is too risky, too unpredictable, too dangerous to deal with. And this has created a defensiveness in many quarters, which is unjustified. Very few people know about the very orderly and powerful demonstrations in Birmingham for instance. Very few people know that there were 120,000 people assembled in Nice, when the European summit was held there, in peaceful demonstrations.
There seems to be a lust for violence and destructiveness, which is promoted by a certain way the media deal with matters. And in fact, I was absolutely flabbergasted to see one very prominent editorialist to even write that these violent confrontations of civil society organizations with the established actors in the world have contributed to some extent to the terrorism that we have seen on September 11.
Let me come back to my initial statement. The media are our closest allies, and it is not by coincidence that many of the posthumous award winners for the Integrity Award are journalists who, courageously, with tremendous professionalism and energy and without fear have gone into the battle against corruption in their societies and worldwide. It is this relationship, which is the subject of our discussion here.
There were some people who cautioned us to first get our act together and in particular to get this link established between the grassroots and national or even local civil society organizations and the global players, who would like to sit at the table with government delegations and the heads of multinational corporations in order to negotiate with them for a better world, like for instance the global compact, which Kofi Annan has set in motion and where we all are participating. Maybe there are dangers and pitfalls there, and maybe we have to be extremely cautious in daring to enter this field at the global level and try to help the WTO for instance to become as open and as responsive to civil society as the World Bank has become under the brilliant leadership of Jim Wolfensohn. So this is one of the open questions and maybe some of you will respond to this.
I personally feel that we have to simply begin our battle. We cannot wait until all of our ducks are in line. And I think that is what we have demonstrated with Transparency in the area of corruption. There it was quite clear that governments were unable to deal with what has become an overwhelming presence of corruption, which has become so normal in many markets that no single government was able to escape this trap for fear they would suffer competitive disadvantages. And of course, the same is true for the private sector. No company doing business in international large projects, being involved in privatization, being involved in making offers to supply goods and services worth billions of dollars could afford to unilaterally suddenly say: "I will not bribe." We therefore helped them to escape this prisoner's dilemma by creating situations where all competitors stopped bribing at the same time.
I believe we cannot wait until we have a prefect instruments collection to deal with the issues which are similar to corruption in other areas. We have to begin our battles knowing that it is a daring, risky, long drawn-out process, but I feel that if we do it right, if we focus on building coalitions, as this whole conference had as a theme, if we focus on being competent in dealing with complex issues as they are in the globalized world, if we are ourselves transparent, if we are ourselves participatory and democratic in our decision-making structures, then civil society organizations can play and in fact have to play a major part.
It is a part of a triangle, a magical triangle I call it, for global governance. There are governments and their international institutions, improved and reformed, hopefully. On the other hand is the private sector with its global reach, with its tremendous skills, tremendous capacities. And there are civil society organizations with their legitimacy, with their courage, with their enthusiasm. Together we can define the problems, together we can define possible solutions, together we can develop strategies for change and then implement these strategies, looking over each other's shoulders and beginning to create a world which is so fair that also the majority of the people, also the poor people everywhere can live in it and we can be proud of what we are leaving to our children. Thank you very much.
Peter, thank you very much. I am very happy to pass the floor to the Attorney General of India, Mr. Soli Sorabjee. And I am sure that the remarks he is going to make on civil society and on how we can reach an ideal, if there can be an ideal civil society anywhere, will be very important for this conference.
Thank you. And thanks to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to participate in this plenary session. Now, the one manner in which a government can strengthen civil society is to enlist the cooperation of civil society in combating corruption. Government should recognize civil society as an ethos, as a treasure on which it can rely in its battle against corruption. So the most necessary thing is a change in the mind-set of the government.
As Attorney General, I have to appear in the Supreme Court in public interest derogation. Very often, when people come with complaints of corruption or maladministration, my response as Attorney General is to thank them for pointing out these instances of maladministration and corruption and to take remedial action when the facts justify the allegations. That should be the most important change that has to be brought about in the mentality of the government, which today looks upon NGOs and other sectors as opponents, as foes. And there is a certain element of hostility about them. That should end. Secondly, how do you enhance civil society, how do you strengthen it? Well, as my friend says, information is power. So you have to make sure that members of the civil society have access to information, freedom to receive and disseminate information. If there is no freedom of information legislation, the first priority toward strengthening civil society would involve the government to enact legislation that provides for a freedom of information, while of course keeping a balance because freedom of information, like freedom of speech, cannot be absolute; there have to be certain reasonable restrictions for reasons of national security, privacy and commercial confidentiality.
Another thing I would like to stress is that there should be no censorship on the media whose function is to censure the administration by exposing corruption. The media has to censure the administration, it is not to be censored by the government.
And most importantly, if you really want to fight corruption, the government must create an atmosphere in the society where free and frank discussion comes naturally, where critics and dissenters are not put behind bars, are not subjected to sanctions, but are encouraged. One of the effective ways of combating corruption would be effective implementation of anti-corruption laws. And that is where governments have failed and there is also failure in my country as far as implementation is concerned. Those who have acquired a well-deserved reputation for corruption should not be roaming large in luxury. That is most demoralizing and generates in the citizenry the mentality that corruption is inevitable and also the fatalistic thinking that the corrupt are above the law. This is another field where the government can effectively play its role.
And in fact, though there are many laws, if there is one law I would suggest this: that if a corrupt official guilty of grand corruption after a fair and full trial is found guilty, don't just send him to prison; he'll bribe the prison officials and have a very comfortable life in prison, he'll have a television set, he'll have food from home. Deprive him of the fruits of his misdeeds, forfeit his illegally acquired property. That is where they will feel the pinch, not merely serving six months or eight months in prison. That is another thing which governments should seriously consider. The law commission of India is contemplating such a law. And in the end, the attitude towards the media should be to encourage the media in its battle against corruption, to publish and disseminate information about those found guilty of corruption and to ensure their social ostracism.
Laws are necessary but they are not the end to all means in the fight against corruption. We must have social sanctions, the corrupt should be portrayed not merely as criminals who have increased their balances by one million or one billion; they should be portrayed as human rights violators. Those who plunder their country, their poor countries, have deprived the people of their socio-economic rights, the funds which should have gone to schools and hospitals have gone into some accounts abroad. And that is how they should be portrayed and regarded: as human rights violators.
That is the whole atmosphere, the enabling environment which should be created if we really are serious about our battle against corruption. We hear every day that there should be a global war on terrorism. I think we need a global war on corruption. And in that war, in that battle we are all partners, not opponents. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Mr. Sorabjee. I think that the discussion on the role of the media has already started. Now I pass the floor to Ayo Obe, President of the Civil Liberties Organization in Nigeria.
Thank you very much, Madame Chair, and I must also thank the organizers of this conference. I believe I am the first representative of Africa to greet the plenary session, and I suspect the last. When one comes from a continent which is often on the margins of world affairs, one has to take refuge, or comfort from the saying that we have in my country that the biggest masquerades come out last. So to appear on the last day is perhaps a sign of importance.
When one comes from a country which is trying to pull itself back from an era where we were ruled by dictators who were said to have not only corrupted democracy, but who have also democratized corruption, that is to say to have made it easily available to all, then to attend a conference like this where for the past few days we have been enthused with ideas, plans, suggestions, statistics can either overwhelm one or can leave one feeling energized. I think what we have been doing the last few days, however, is largely preaching to the converted. Those of us who are here are here because we are concerned in one way or the other about corruption, and we have determined in our own different ways to fight it and to combat it. But if we want to talk about civil society and how it can be strengthened, we have to recognize that civil society takes its strength from the societies in which it is based, that is, people amongst whom it arises. Indeed without people who are ready to become activists there can be no civil society.
And therefore I think that if we are looking at the role of the media in strengthening civil society, of course, media can help civil society when it comes to exposing the corrupt, by making information available. We heard yesterday about how the simple transferring of information about money that has been allocated for schools in Uganda had made a tremendous difference in the amount of money that was actually received. And even in Nigeria we have seen that petrol shortages have become almost a thing of the past simply because the government is revealing how much petrol is being delivered to petrol stations. So definitely the media can be important in releasing information but it is also important for the media to energize individuals within a society.
The information is not useful if someone is not ready to pick it up. We also saw from the work done by the MKSS society on the question of money allocated for projects in villages in India that it requires a lot of painstaking detailed work, backbreaking work which has to be carried out with a great deal of dedication. And once one has that information, we wouldn't want to say that it is only waiting for MKSS to come and start carrying out those investigations. What we need is for everybody who gets information to say: "Well, I have seen my own budget in the media, the local radio, the community radio. What happened to the money in my area?" And then perhaps they can take it to where action can be taken on it. I think that if we indulge ourselves too much in feeling we've had a conference on corruption and we've all got new strategies and ideas, we run the danger of our people at home saying: "Oh, the people whose job it is to deal with corruption are busy, it's somebody else's job, it doesn't have much to do with me, it's not my business to root out corruption." Of course, when that happens, people don't examine their own individual behaviors. We have the person who is a court clerk somewhere, who never gives change and even abuses the person who dares to come with the correct change, but who, nonetheless, wants to complain about what is happening in the capital cities, and so on.
So there is a disconnection between the activities that we carry out in our own personal, private or business lives and our own dealings with other members of the public and our complaints about those who are elected to rule us. Of course, yes, the media are going to help us to expose those who are elected to rule us and to encourage them as well. But it's also vital to make everybody understand that this isn't somebody else's job, it's not just Transparency International's job, it is not just the job of the Civil Liberties Organization or those human rights people or of the Attorney General or of, in my case, President Obasanjo. It's my job as well, it's our job, it's everybody's job.
I think that the only other point that I want to make about the media is this same question of what is a very common statement in my country - the cynicism that comes from repeated assertions such as: "Oh, they are all corrupt." It may well be that they are all corrupt but it doesn't really help us to continue repeating this mantra, and by "they" we mean the people who are in power, the one we have elected perhaps to represent us. Nor does it relieve us of the responsibility for taking action in our own personal and private lives. I think that whilst I would say that the media have a lot to do in eliminating the negative of corruption, that we need them to do less of the in-between vagueness that goes with the statements: "They are all corrupt", and to perhaps move towards a situation where we accentuate the positive.
Thank you very much for your very social and also personal statement. Now I pass the floor to the person who has been for quite a long time a member of parliament, who has been working in the field of media also for quite a long time, the representative of OSCE, the representative on freedom of the media, Mr. Freimut Duve.
Thank you very much. When the OSCE, the former CEC, the state organization ensuing from the Helsinki process that includes Canada, the United States, the Russian Federation, the states of Central Asia and of course Europe decided four, three and a half years ago to have a representative on freedom of the media the word "corruption" wasn't really involved in it. When I was elected as the first representative we didn't deal too much with the question of corruption; we dealt a lot with interference in state and media freedom in many countries. Today I am very happy to say that when I started my job, I was the first one to tell governments: "I don't have only one constituency in your participating countries."
I have four. I have the foreign ministers who elected me, I have parliamentarians, I have journalists, and I have the NGOs and media freedom. Whenever we are in conflict with one of the countries - and we are in conflict more today than two years ago - then I have to stress OK, this is a government organization, but freedom of the media means that I have a direct correspondence and a direct way in dealing with the other groups. Little by little we were coming across more and more cases where corruption was the essential element of our nervousness, let's call it that. Therefore I am very grateful for this meeting in the conference here.
When I took over this job I said there was a grandiose freedom of expression, a two-hundred years' history of the human rights First Amendment. However, there is a second element which I call the corrective function of free media, especially as regards economics and market economics. This is not necessarily a human right, but an absolute economic, political, social and cultural necessity for the future of the post-socialist, post-communist countries. Thirty years ago I worked in Africa and I made the same experience with the necessities there. Corruption is embedded in a pillow of silence and therefore I will start by giving a few cases which alarmed my office and myself.
Three years ago, we started to identify what I called censorship by killing. We had the famous case of Veronica Guerin in Ireland in 1996, who was killed because she did some enquiry into a group of Mafia and corruption on that island. I visited Ireland later, I went to her grave and I discussed the case a lot with the public in the country. This killing of her was a real starting event for the awareness in that country to look into corruptive relations and to protect journalists. I selected a few cases. Then in Kalmikia we had a very tragic case of Larisa Udina. Udina was also killed because she was looking into the corruptive behavior of a leading millionaire who at the same time had official functions. I made her case a momentum in my way of addressing all the governments. At the moment, for the last five months, my office is in almost daily contact with a journalist Olga Kitova in Balgorado about eight hundred kilometers away from Moscow. The reason why I am going into this is that the cases we are dealing with - censorship by killing - are mostly in administrative quarters of the provinces, not in the capital.
There are very few people looking into it, very few Western journalists traveling there. Olga Kitova, for example, has no money to call our office outside Russia; it's too expensive. So we try to have a daily link with her. Why is she in trouble? She disclosed in one of her articles that the leading politician had transformed a leading ice factory into a private company, observing that outside, on the Channel Islands, he was making gains of hundreds of thousands DM. However, he is a leading politician in the country. She was beaten up by ten policemen, she had to go to hospital and then, cynically (she's only one meter fifty tall), she was accused by the prosecutor of having attacked the policemen. Yes, we laugh, but those who do that know that everybody laughs because they know the climate of laughing about it. They can allow themselves in that province to be this cynical, as everybody knows that the governor is involved, that everybody is involved and that this journalist is the enemy of the system. So I very much hope that we can help her.
We have this problem throughout the transformation states: that especially outside the capitals we have extremely courageous journalists who are trying to do their jobs again and again facing these dangers. Therefore, my office and I are planning - together with hopefully one of the wonderful NGOs - to set up a telephone hotline for journalists in the whole area, maybe based in Moscow or in some other area, so that the journalists could try out, or rather, put their anxieties to this hotline. Then the people who do harm would know that it is known somewhere else. This is the most important thing. And secondly, we want to help to establish - we are just in the beginning - a central radio program covering the whole area so that a local journalist doesn't need necessarily to publish it locally but regionally, like "Radio CNN" in the whole area. If we manage, together with the help of some NGOs, to establish such a thing we may be of help to those journalists who are so courageous.
Mr. Duve, thank you very much. You named very many important names and I am also very happy that you have mentioned an extremely important thing: how international organizations should start working together on the issues which sometimes seem to be without any solution.
Now, last but absolutely not the least, I am going to give the floor to Mr. Soros, and not only as the representative of Soros Management Fund, but also as the founder of the gigantic network of Open Society Institutes all over the world of which he is chairperson.
The foundation network is devoted to an open society and I just want to make it clear: there is a distinction between open society and civil society. An open society needs a strong civil society but it also has to have a democratic government that is responsive to civil society and it needs also a private sector that is hopefully not too much in cahoots with the government. So the issue of corruption is central to open society; the usual definition is the misuse of public office for private gain. However, I just regard corruption as the seamy side of an open society. For me, this is a useful way of defining it because open society is a very complex system, you can't create open society by direct action. It's a great plurality of approaches out of which, indirectly, comes an open society. This is important because you canĂÂ´t really fight corruption directly either, it's also a very complex system and there is no magic bullet. Now perhaps it would be possible to have some kind of master plan to fight corruption. Yet, a government that is committed to fighting corruption does need to have some kind of a master plan, but its being successful is extremely unlikely.
There are some examples of success. Bolivia is a country that has made great progress, also Mexico under President Fox will make a big attempt. I have always been very interested in master plans and I actually became very involved in one in Georgia. It was really a very good master plan and IĂÂ´ve drawn your attention to it as a good blueprint. Everything was ready, civil society was involved, the foundation was involved, very capable people were devoting their energies to it, the appropriate declarations were made, President Sevarnadze said it's a primary goal, he signed the declarations and the laws were enacted. However, in the end nothing actually happened because the political will was lacking, he just couldn't push it through. And of course, you know, Georgia today is a very beleaguered country so I am not even accusing President Sevarnadze, I think he is a man of good will, but he simply couldn't carry it through. And, just as a matter of interest, I can tell you why this is the case. The main source of corruption in Georgia is actually the internal security service and he is dependent on the internal security service. Of course Georgia is beleaguered from the Russian side and so it simply didn't have the power to carry it through. I hope it will get the power but this was just to show how a master plan doesn't necessarily work.
Therefore, we have to do a great variety of things, assume a multiplicity of approaches. In this context, what Transparency International has done has been very valuable in making the public aware of the problem. This corruption perception, the bribery perception indexes are very important in alerting public opinion. Even more could be done along those lines, but the work of the media, of course, is essential. As the previous speaker pointed out, if the political situation is bad, you can cry out and there is very little response and you can be cynically ignored and things go on as before. So we have to both support media, support legislative reform, judiciary reform, civil society efforts and from all of this, eventually, some improvement will come, but we have to be prepared in many cases, actually, to fight a losing battle. I have always at my head Sergei Kovalyov who said: "You know, all my life I have been fighting losing battles". This is a battle that one has to fight even if it is a losing battle.
What more could we do, what other initiatives are there that we could support? I have some ideas and I will just mention them briefly - perhaps three initiatives that we ought to do more about, and then I would like to hear other suggestions. One is election finance, which is very, very important and we are engaged in that in the United States. We really need to do it more on a global basis, to find out, to monitor, to bring transparency and to bring reform.
Another area that we also support the same way we support the TI and the various chapters of TI is an organization called Global Witness that has done very good work in Cambodia and Angola. It has occurred to me that if we could get the natural resource companies, particularly the oil companies, to publish how much money they are paying various countries, and if this could perhaps be done by having the Securities and Exchange Commission demand from companies that are listed on stock exchanges to publish this detailed information, how much is paid in Angola, or Kazakhstan, or Nigeria by individual companies, we could then add it up and the civil society in those countries would know how much money is coming in and then you could demand to know what is happening with that money, how is it used.
The third idea has to do with the very valuable bribery and corruption procedure index. We ought to develop it further and actually establish a scorecard of how much progress is being made in various areas that have a bearing on corruption. What about procurement for central government and local government, what about the judiciary, the appointment of the judiciary and the functioning of the judiciary, what about budgetary transparency? What about media freedom and the quality of investigative journalism because actually media are also subject to corruption and are being paid for using it as a weapon between fights of the oligarchs. Some measure of the state capture which, I think, is the voting record of legislators because in the United States you can see our legislators vote but I don't think in Nigeria you can, so maybe if one had transparency on the voting record of legislators, and so on.
I just mention these as various elements where we ought to have a scorecard measuring progress in these areas. Perhaps we could get together a working group, the TI, the World Bank which has done a lot of work, the Open Society Institute and others; I know the Bertelsmann Institute is always very interested in this kind of questions. We could get together, develop such a scorecard and then we could make it a target to actually present the scorecard the next time this meeting is held in Korea two years from now.
Mr. Soros, thank you very much for the practical suggestions that have been made. Now we would like to greet the President of Mexico who is just entering the room. Mr. President, the floor is yours.
Vicente Fox Quesada:
Good Morning, Mr. Peter Eigen, Chairman of the Transparency International Board, Mr. Kevin Ford, Chairman of the Council, International Anti-Corruption Conference, Mr. Michal Burian, Executive Director of Transparency International, friends, ladies and gentleman. It is a privilege to take part in the closing session of this Tenth International Anti-Corruption Conference. I would like to thank Transparency International for inviting me to address this prestigious forum. I would like to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to talk about the fight against corruption that my administration has undertaken since I took office as President of Mexico on December 1, 2000.
Today in Mexico, transparency and accountability by the government are a concrete reality, an unequivocal response to the demands and deepest aspirations of Mexican society. On July 2 of last year, Mexico began a new stage in its history. On that day, the Mexicans' democratic vocation, as well as their decision to cast aside dead weights and backlogs such as corruption were freely expressed at the ballot box. Due to that vocation, Mexicans enjoy the fundamental values of a democratic society: freedom of confession, freedom of speech, tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity. These values, these freedoms have given a new impetus to the will of citizens to take part in the definition and execution of government policies, government transparency and government accountability. This is a participation that my administration encourages because based on this climate of cooperation between all Mexicans, we can confront the numerous deficiencies our nation still faces.
There is no doubt that great human potential and a profound disposition for change and progress exist in Mexico today, as well as an active civil society and institutions in the process of consolidating. They will enable us to overcome the problems coming from a lack of a proper balance between the branches of government and effective mechanisms for citizens to monitor public management. In Mexico, there is now a true system of checks and balances among branches of government that we didn't have before. And today, there is an autonomous and effective control over the executive branch. The democratic legitimacy that Mexico's current government enjoys offers a historic opportunity to do away with corruption once and for all with the support of all sectors of society. Today, both our own people and foreigners are witnesses of the progressive assimilation of a culture of transparency. This has undoubtedly been a powerful incentive to strengthen democratic institutions, to restore the trust that should exist between those who are governing and those who are governed and of course to correct any distortions in the exercise of public functions.
My administration is determined to promote and consolidate this culture of transparency as one of our highest priorities. We are therefore creating favorable conditions over such culture flourishes. On the one hand ethics of responsibility, integrity and abidance by the law on the part of public servants and on the other, greater intense participation and vigilance, supervision on the part of citizens. All this within a legal and judicial framework which, while punishing illicit acts appropriately, also prevents them. A legal framework that gives certainty to citizens includes efficient mechanisms for monitoring and control of government actions and for reporting and punishing acts of corruption by public servants.
We want everybody to feel safe, always safe, on the streets of Mexico. In order to achieve that goal we have to start cleaning the house. We have to start implementing specific programs to put an end to corruption within Mexican police corps and security institutions. There is no way how we can do our work out on the street to combat organized crime, to combat narco-trafficking if it is not through a police corps that is honest and has ethical values. We have assumed the commitment to return to public administration its original and essential character in its public nature and its vocation for service. This requires a more efficient and transparent accountability, as well as guarantees for citizens to have access to information. We are submitting in the near future, in the following weeks, an information and transparency law to Congress. We are therefore developing a strategy based on three lines of action. First of all, the development of methods and procedures to enable us to reliably appraise the dimensions and scope of the problem of corruption in Mexico. This has involved systematizing and integrating various measuring instruments, evaluating their effectiveness and seeking mechanisms that make it possible to carry out investigations independently and objectively. The second line of action consists of consolidating a national system of effective control which has demanded establishing closer ties of collaboration with the other branches of government, redesigning responsibilities to facilitate transparency and accountability, and promoting the improvement of current legislation. A third line of action of enormous importance is the incorporation of new political and social players into the crusade we have undertaken against corruption. To that end we have improved the mechanisms for citizensĂÂ´ participation for we want to increase the capacity of observation, supervision and monitoring of government affairs on the part of civil society. Today in Mexico, in the ten months we've been in government, a hundred and twenty-four non-governmental organizations, organizations of civil society have already been empowered to act as social controllers and to ensure the transparency of government actions.
We are waging a major battle against corruption. Not only in programs and corrective measures designed to put an end, to immediately stop the problem, but also by putting emphasis on preventive aspects, such as the promotion of a civic culture. With the aid of entrepreneurial and business chambers and occasional institutions, universities, civic associations, non-governmental organizations, the media and the press, the objective is to create a clear awareness of the need to adapt codes of ethical and civic conduct that are firmly based on law so as to closely link society with this battle. My administration has also set in motion a national program for transparency and the fight against corruption in all spheres of the federal executive branch. Today in Mexico, this fight against corruption is not the responsibility of a single ministry but of the whole structure of government and every one of its dependencies. We have electronic systems for preventing irregular or corrupt practices in government purchases, which we call "compra-net" and in the formalities that citizens carry out that the government calls "cramita-net". We also have a system known as "declara-net", which enables public servants to annually present their declaration of assets in order to prevent them, by means of appropriate and full control, from illegitimately increasing their assets. All these programs form part of a comprehensive fight against corruption, in which we have involved the different levels of government, the political parties, non-governmental organizations and society in general. In order to ensure lawfulness in government purchases, the Mexican Chapter of Transparency International, together with all the non-governmental organizations overlooks and supervises the contracts and the allocation process.
We are well aware that in order to be effective, our crusade against corruption requires full participation of all social sectors. True democracies are glass houses open to public scrutiny, transparent and reliable, therefore democratic governments need citizens' participation in the support of national and international non-governmental organizations to carry out proper monitoring of the conduct of government affairs.
Regarding the aforementioned point, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the work being done by the Mexican Chapter of Transparency International headed by Federico Reyes Heroles. Its active promotion of an ethical view of public administration, together with its preparation of a series on corruption in Mexico and the dissemination of their results are highly valuable contributions to our public life. The Mexican Chapter of Transparency International is carrying out a survey on corruption, soon to be published in Mexico. Mexico is convinced that the annual indexes presented by Transparency International prepared in collaboration with the bodies of its national chapters are of prime importance in the fight against corruption. They constitute a major, and at times severe reminder of the deficiencies that must be overcome. Mexico has moved from the 59th place on the Transparency International list down to the 51st. We are sure that by the time the next meeting of this organization takes place we will have made further progress along these lines.
I am convinced that the relationship between non-governmental organizations and governments must become increasingly closer, and always based on constructive criticism. This involves a mutual learning process that must have its immediate objective in a better and more responsible management of public administration. Together with a greater participation of society in the scrutiny of government activities, what is also required is the firm determination of all groups and sectors to wipe out every vestige of corruption. In particular it is essential that the private sector also demonstrates its commitment and acceptance of a shared responsibility. We cannot and will not allow the latter to resort to vices that the society condemns and that have pernicious effects on the overall economic and political life of the country.
Combatting corruption also requires the collaboration of all groups abroad that are committed to the ethical exercise of government. Their support and viewpoints are of great value to a government which like that of Mexico is determined to put an end to corruption. In this effort we will also want to play a very active role in defining the standards and rules to be generally observed among nations and in fighting corruption in all its forms. We are fully aware of the importance of combining our efforts on the domestic front with an active participation in multilateral fora. Consequently, in a vision of being a part of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Trade Transactions, Mexico will take an active part in the negotiations over the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Our government hopes that this convention will penalize a wide range of acts of corruption in the international arena, including the active and passive bribery of government officials, illicit enrichment, influence peddling, the abuse of government possessions, money laundering, and the fraudulent use or concealment of assets acquired through an act of corruption.
In that context we will make every effort to see that the future convention also contains very efficient follow-up and control mechanisms. This is particularly important in the entrepreneural ambit, as well as in the international arena. This has been reflected on the level of foreign investment that is expected this year in Mexico to exceed USD 50 billion, which will put us among the first places at the world level as regards attraction of investment. This is one more reason why we should work in the international arena to ensure transparency. In the final analysis, this signifies confidence and trust not only in our economy, but also in our laws and their full application. By no means do we regard these figures as cause for self-complacency. We are in the process of adopting a series of regional and international instruments which together will offer great security for our own people and for those from other countries who decide to visit, reside, or invest in our country.
Amigas, amigos, Mexico is convinced that transparency, democracy and development are the links of the same chain. Transparency in particular in promoting the exercise of public functions in keeping with the law contributes to reducing inequality and discrimination. We therefore believe that the consolidation of democracy and accountability throughout the world should be the foundation of a new, more just and stable international system. In this ambitious course of action we Mexicans have set commitments for ourselves.
We support the declaration that this conference has just issued without reservations. We reiterate our commitments to the ideals that inspired the work of Transparency International, and express our full confidence and our willingness to work together to combat corruption in Mexico and throughout the world. My administration is the expression of the people's will for change, the people's will for transparency and accountability.
I am fully aware of the responsibility this implies for my collaborators and myself, but also of the commitments this implies for Mexican society which once again will have to find its deepest values, its strategic reserves on those values, the values of a nation of men and women who are all bright, free, tolerant, open to the world, that are specifically needy of this transparency, this accountability, this eradication. Thank you very much.
Mr. President, you have summed what has been discussed, and on behalf of all let me thank you for this and also for the fact that you, personally, as a president of a country, have joined this very important meeting. The lessons that could be learned from what you have said about what you personally as president are going to do in combatting corruption is beyond any applause that you have heard. Thank you very much again. And now I give the floor to Mrs. Marie Bohata, who will chair the closing session.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is my distinct pleasure to open the last session of our conference. This last session is somewhat special. We will be reflecting upon what we have been doing for the last couple of days, but also looking into the future.
I would like to ask first Tunku Abdul Aziz to read a document which we call the Final Statement. Let me also introduce very briefly our speaker. As you may know, Tunku is one of the pillars of the anti-corruption movement in Asia. He serves as Vice-Chairman of the TI board and I would like to recall - and many of you will remember - the wonderful conference Tunku hosted in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Tunku Abdul Aziz:
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, the unique feature of the IACC is that we have come together as men and women in our individual capacities - we do not represent or speak for the organizations, governments and corporations, which may or may not employ us. We make a statement which we believe reflects a broad consensus, but, obviously, not every single delegate is expected or understood to have agreed to every word. The various aspects of it have been discussed informally with various participants and the statement has been approved for submission to you by our conference chairman.
In accordance with past practice I will read the statement, and at the conclusion you will be invited to endorse the statement by acclamation.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are almost at the end of our conference. I would like to ask now Michal Burian, Director of the Transparency International Czech Republic, to complete his job. We will start our small ceremony when Mr. Burian will be handing over the conference to our colleagues from Korea. So let me now give the floor to Michal.
Thank you very much. Mrs Chairwoman, Mr. President, Mr. Mayor of Seoul, distinguished guests, friends. I am here, as probably most of you expect, to say that the conference is at its very end, but I would like to say that this is not completely the case. I would like to invite you for this afternoon to a very special event that will take place on Wenceslas Square at the art exhibition tent after this plenary and finish at four o'clock. I hope I will meet you all there, and there, too, on Wenceslas Square in the centre of Prague, we can say good-bye.
I would like to thank all of you for coming to Prague, I would like to thank you for your tremendous work you have done before the conference and during the conference. I would like to thank all our partners for their kind support. Let me give my very special thanks to the members of the team that prepared this conference. This was real teamwork, and we would not have been able to organize this conference without the help of our colleagues in Prague, in Berlin, in London and other TI chapters. Thank you very much.
Indeed, the conference is at its very end, and I would like to wish much success to our colleagues in Seoul. They will have a very difficult job because they will be organizing not just one conference, but two of them. This will probably be the biggest challenge from the start of the IACC series, so let us keep our fingers crossed for our colleagues in Korea.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me invite on the stage Mr. Kevin Ford who is serving chairman of the International Anti-corruption Conference Council, and also Mr. Barry OĂÂ´Keefe, member of the IACC Council, to make a short speech and assist me with the hand-over ceremony.
Ladies and gentlemen, the work is almost at an end. On behalf of the Council I want to thank you all for coming. I also want to thank our local hosts and organizers. Now, we will have the short ceremony to turn over the conference to our new hosts in Seoul. Before we do that I want to inform you that we have a new chairman for the conference going forward in the honorable Mr. Barry OĂÂ´Keefe.
And as we end this ceremony and as everyone prepares to return to your home country and to your daily lives, let us just remember: If we remain together against corruption, we will succeed. At this time I would like to ask the Mayor of Seoul to come over and join us.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Mayor Kun Goh to you. Before the address he will be giving I would like to stress that he has had an impressive career both in academia and in government. This is the second term he is serving as Mayor of the City of Seoul, he also served as minister in the government, and quite recently as Prime Minister. The floor is yours, Excellency.
Your Excellency, Vicente Fox Quesada, President of Mexico, Mr. Kevin Ford, Chairman of the IACC, Mr. Peter Eigen, President of Transparency International, distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great privilege to receive this special whistle to hold in on the next anti-corruption conference. The next conference in Seoul will be a special occasion, as it will be opened with the Global Forum in 2003. Prague has set such a high standard that it will be a difficult track for us to follow. However, in close cooperation with the TI Chapter and the 11th IACC organizing committee, we will make every effort to make the next conference as productive as any of the preceding ones.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. A government-led development year is at an end in Korea and we are now arranging to implement a market-led economy to proceed at a great speed. Efforts are being undertaken from all sectors of society to cast away the legacy of bureaucratic corruption and the collusion between politics and business. Seoul was the engine of compressed development and the legacy of the past years was most deeply rooted in its administration. However, the City of Seoul is now standing at the forefront of the anti-corruption reforms.
Two years ago in Durban I outlined the systemic anti-corruption iniciatives of the Seoul metropolitan government. As I indicated at the time, my emphasis was on reforming the entire administrative process and structure, so corruption could not take root. The four major lines of action were preventive measures, punitive measures, increased transparency, and enhanced public participation. Preventive measures included widely spread deregulation to reduce space for undue discretionary power, mass reshuffling of personnel in areas prone to corrupt practices, and the abolishment of areal jurisdiction in order to prevent patron-customer relationships. As for punitive measures, we have introduced the principle of zero tolerance for corruption. Citizens can inform the mayor directly of any wrongdoings through e-mail to the mayor, and the corruption report-cards system. I have made sure that every wrongdoer has been punished. As a minister I enhanced administrative transparency and public participation. I tried to do this as a one-line procedure with the enhancement of civil applications as an open system. The system increased the transparency of the administration by allowing the citizens to monitor the entire processing of the civil application from receipt to the final stages on the internet in real time. This eliminates the need for personal contact with officials and for the paying of the express fees.
In Durban I also explained about the anti-corruption index. This system evaluates the level of integrity of each administrative unit through direct survey of people who have actually had business with the city government, and the results are made public every year thereby promoting the government departments to enter into competition for integrity. Since the Durban conference we have not only steadfastly implemented these programs, but also devised some new programs. The Integrity Pact is a notable example. Under this program, when businessmen and civil servants enter into contract in connection with, say, procurement, construction or consulting, they pledge that neither side will offer or demand bribes under specific conditions of punishment. Five ombudsmen from civil organizations are acting as watchdogs, from the bidding process through to the termination of the contract. As for the measures to ensure transparency in public procurement, an electronic tendering system was introduced. These anti-corruption initiatives have now taken firm root as an everyday systemwide activity in the city administration.
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to report to you that these initiatives of the Seoul government have made significant progress in the past two years. According to various polls, the majority of citizens view that the City Hall has cleaned up its acts in terms of corruption. The results of the anti-corruption index itself have steadily improved in all fields. The open system, it seems, has become the trademark of Seoul. Since its first introduction in Durban, its merit was recognized by the OECD, the World Bank, the Asia Foundation, the American Society for Public Administration, and even the Time magazine. In Korea, all of the central government ministeries and many of the local governments are utilizing this open system. The open system will soon be distributed to the member states of the UN. Following an agreement between the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and myself, an international workshop of experts was held in Seoul to explore ways to supply the open system worldwide. The manual for the system is now being prepared in six languages.
The very essence behind the reform efforts of Seoul is to create an environment for individuals to stand firm against temptations. We realized the necessity for a constant monitoring system under which the administration is put under constant scrutiny of the public. In all these efforts we have strived to mobilize two resources whose latent potential is immense: civil society on one hand, and information technologies on the other. We have involved individual citizens and civil organizations in our collective fight against corruption. We have also utilized the emerging TIs to make the metropolitan government open to public surveillance and participation. This is the essence of the open system as well. The Seoul metropolitan government is in the process of integrating the parental open system with the city's computerized internal approval systems. It is in its final stages of development; it will be implemented by the end of the year. Not only will the transparency and productivity be improved even further, but also a genuinely two-way communication system will be established between the City Hall and the public.
Your Excellencies and honorable participants, the world is shocked over the tragedy in New York. If we define terrorism as an inhumane act that physically threatens our society from the outside, then we may say that corruption is an anti-ethical behavior that undermines the foundations of our society from the inside. Here lies the reason why we must wage war against corruption in league with all the nations of the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to seeing you in Seoul in two years. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, indeed, for your presentation. We very much look forward to coming to Seoul, and good luck with the conference.
Excellency, honorable guests, dear friends and colleagues. We are coming now to the very end of the conference. I think this was a wonderful opportunity to share our vision of a corruption-free world, to share our tremendous expertise in the field of fighting corruption, and also committment. It is something really impressive, so I would like to suggest that we continue working together also in the future. I think partnership and cooperation based on trust and mutual respect are even more important today when our world is threatened by terrorism.
I would like to thank you all for your wonderful contributions to the conference. Once again I would like to thank the organizers for their work, without which this event could not have happened. I wish you all the best, and have a safe journey home. Thank you all and hope to see you soon.