February 2, 2013
Parliamentarians sign historic agreement to end corruption
The 5th Global Conference of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) ends today with the signing of the Manila Declaration recognizing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) as the first legally binding and internationally accepted instrument in the fight against corruption.
"Corruption is largely measured by perception because corruption is based on people's experience. It is a gut issue for many. Eliminating corruption therefore necessitates changing experiences, changing how people experience governance," Senator Edgardo J. Angara, newly elected chair of GOPAC and current chair of the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption, said.
" GOPAC members agree that corruption is a plague that affects individuals at the local level, and that this plague can have serious consequences globally," Angara added.
"As legislators, we cannot remain idle. We must be part of the solution, even while there are those among parliamentarians who have been party to corruption," he also said.
With the common goal of combating corruption and promoting good governance, participants in the four-day event eventually agreed on several resolutions, among them a resolve to enhance the capacity of parliamentarians to adapt international standards to national needs, strengthening anti-corruption strategies and monitoring their respective countries' compliance with the UNCAC.
"The agreement also urges parliamentarians to participate in anti-corruption meetings on the international stage, and work with international organizations and civil society on anti-corruption initiatives," Angara said.
Parliamentarians also agreed to help build the capacity of fellow legislators to exercise anti-corruption oversight functions in their respective countries by developing support networks for parliamentarians, and to strengthen relations with organizations that work on oversight issues.
"One important resolution we all agreed upon is to help each other develop and roll out resources to strengthen anti-money laundering regimes," Angara continued, saying "we must do all we can to aid the efforts of our fellow parliamentarians to recover stolen corrupt assets through domestic legislation and initiatives."
Other agreements include the pledge of parliamentarians to allow the public, and civil society, to participate in the fight against graft and corruption by providing education and access to information, as well as protecting the rights of anti-corruption advocates.
The delegates also resolved to disseminate and implement recommendations for the development of effective and comprehensive systems of ethics and conduct at global, regional and domestic levels. They also agreed to uphold fundamental international standards while recognizing the differences in political and cultural contexts in which legislators work.
Lastly, a Global Task Force set up for Women in Parliamentary Work agreed to provide a network of support for women parliamentarians to enhance their capacity to participate in the fight against corruption. The task force also recognized studies showing a direct link between the presence of women in parliaments and a decrease in the level of corruption.
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