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Pacific leaders declare fight on corruption

Pacific leaders have committed to the fight against corruption through signing a declaration in Tawara, Kiribati, earlier this week.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi was among the leaders who signed the declaration including those from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Fiji, and the High Commissioners of New Zealand and Australia.

The signing ceremony was done during the two days meeting on the Pacific Regional Conference on Anti-Corruption.

It was based on the theme “Pacific Unity against Corruption Conference” hosted by the Government of Kiribati.

A local representative from the Journalists Association of Samoa (J.A.W.S.), Lagi Keresoma, reported that during deliberation, emphasis was placed on what can be done to eliminate corruption in the Pacific.

The Secretary- General of the Pacific Island Forum State (P.I.F.S.) Dame Meg Taylor explained that the process now is for the Kiribati President to raise the outcome of the Tawara conference at the Forum leaders meeting in Vanuatu come August 2020.

Ms. Taylor said that it was because of Kiribati’s initiative to have the conference and it will have to go into the Forum as a country initiative, before the Pacific could embrace it as a Forum outcome. 

The Kiribati President, Taneti Maamau said that pacific leaders have set contextual issues to help combat corruption and have agreed on certain issues.

These declaration include: 

  • Encouraging all Pacific states  to unite against corruption; Recognizing the importance of political will and leadership at levels in addressing corruption.
  • Pacific leaders to champion integrity, advocate and implement anti-corruption practices in their Parliament, public services, private sectors and the community through commitment to criminalization of corruption and prompt impartial investigation and prosecution.
  • Commend advancement of anti-corruption agenda of Pacific countries.
  • Encourage integrity building to be embraced as a society issue with the focus on corruption prevention, strengthening public awareness. , integrity learning  through education  and enhanced transparency and accountability in all sectors. 
  • Acknowledge that corruption  disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, especially women, persons with disabilities, youth and the elderly.
  • Commit in governing in a accountable manner where leaders , people with authority, Cabinets, Parliamentarians and public servants  adhere to their leadership  codes or code of conduct.
  • Commit to developing and maintaining independent integrity  bodies or appropriate coordination mechanisms that prevent and fight corruption.
  • Recognize and support right to information, need to protect  genuine whistle blowers  and for an independent  civil society  and responsible media to be involved in national  and regional anti-corruption efforts.
  • Reaffirm our commitment to combat money-laundering and its facilitators and the enabling environment  in the region.
  • Commit to further strengthen good practices in public finance management and to conduct  corruption risk assessments in vulnerable sectors.
  • Partner with non- State actors through a Pacific network of anti-corruption champions to elevate  and strengthen  our shared vision  of Pacific Unity Against Corruption.
  • Urging States  to draw on regional mechanisms  to further   this Teieniwa Vission including greater collaboration  through regional architecture and development  partners.
  • Resolve to develop and review the National Anti-Corruption Strategies and policies and implementation arrangements including within  the national plans through a participatory process including civil society, youths, private sector, Parliamentarians, media and other stakeholders.
  • Document anti-corruption impact by developing and maintaining anti-corruption measurement tools and data within the Sustainable Development Goals and national plans.
  • Endeavour to unite our voice as a Blue Pacific to ensure that regional anti-corruption priorities are being presented where possible as a collective.
  • Commit to promoting the Blue Pacific as a recognized distinct regional within the international framework including the Conference of States Parties to United Nations Convention against Corruption (U.N.C.A.C.), to support the drive  for a unified anti-corruption voice 
  • Support a strong Pacific engagement with the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on corruption and its implementation.

It is the first time Pacific leaders have come together to tackle corruption in a regional level.

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