Consolidating the Pacific movement against corruption

Michael Arnold Communications Officer Transparency International PNG

In the face of stagnating Corruption Perceptions Index (TI CPI) scores across the Pacific over the past 4 years, leaders of the anti-corruption movement around the region convened in early February. They aimed to facilitate networking, information sharing and enhancing the resilience of Pacific island countries against corruption.

The conference, themed “Pacific Unity Against Corruption”, had a special focus on regional cooperation to develop effective anti-corruption strategies and frameworks in the Pacific.

The Conference gave leaders the opportunities to:

  • Strengthen anti-corruption networks across the Pacific
  • Share knowledge, experiences and best practices on the subject
  • Identify opportunities for regional cooperation and possible support by development partners towards the implementation of national anti-corruption strategies and the Sustainable Development Goals.

From Papua New Guinea (PNG), Transparency International PNG's Executive Director, Arianne Kassman, was invited as one of two key presenters at the conference.

She highlighted the economic and social impacts of corruption on small island economies, in her presentation to Pacific leaders, invited representatives from the Commonwealth, youth and private sector.

Her particular focus was on the impact of corruption on public service delivery.

In her presentation, she underlined a list of vulnerabilities in small pacific island countries, which have created significant barriers against the anti-corruption movement. These included;

  • Limited or no space for civil society
  • Lack of oversight of decision-making processes
  • Lack of an independent and free media
  • Lack of citizen participation as stakeholders in the democratic process.

The purpose of the conference was to integrate and align anti-corruption work carried out in the Region. Discussion topics centred around; the economic and social impact of corruption in the Pacific, combatting corruption to improve public service delivery, what a holistic anti-corruption framework looks like and the role of traditions and culture in fighting corruption.

While sharing recommendations on what needs to be done to minimise the impacts of corruption in the Pacific, Ms Kassman emphasised;

  • The need for stronger enforcement of existing law and conventions regarding corruption
  • Development and implementation of anti-corruption policies and standards
  • Protection of freedom of speech and the right to protest
  • Ensuring the independence of the institutions that provide the checks and balances such as the judiciary, police and the media.
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