Two urgent agendas in Latin America: the fight against corruption and the fight against organized crime

Date: 06 / December / 2021

On November 18 and 19, 2021, the meeting of the UNODC Civil Society Unit was held. As participants in the event, the discussion of our group revolved around the themes that we think should be included as part of a common agenda for both issues and priority or current lines of work by civil society organizations in Latin America in the fight against corruption. The issues that we had the opportunity to address from the perspective of the ONG Contraloría Ciudadana para la Rendición de Cuentas, A.C., are gathered in the following conclusions.

  1. The relevant role of civil society organizations in promoting a culture of crime prevention, with the purpose of creating a collective conscience in the communities affected by the latter and where a discourse that legitimizes it is installed and proliferates.
  2. The quality of political and administrative cadres, and career civil services (if any) is essential in preventing collusion between crime and the State apparatus or governments.
  3. Appointment and promotion systems in key government positions should be reviewed with a view to building robust systems that prevent crime from permeating those appointments, including positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
  4. Political parties can be vehicles through which crime, through funding and candidacies, can influence decision-making. Hence, the role of electoral bodies and electoral justice is crucial as part of a comprehensive approach to fighting crime.
  5. The weakness of the State institutions in Latin America is a common problem among the countries of the region, so rethinking the institutional order and the mechanisms to reinforce their strength, independence and resources is an important task in a shared agenda. In turn, at the national level, this effort is replicated in an in-depth legislative review and reform of penal codes.

In addition, we were able to note the following priority areas of common work at the regional level.

Take advantage of the UNODC Accelerated Implementation project to link work agendas with UNTOC (United Nations Convention against Organized Crime) and UNCAC (United Nations Convention against Corruption).

Work on dynamics of state capture by criminal organizations and move towards an approach that allows us to understand corruption as a form of organized crime.

Registration on the platform. The latter represents a new mechanism for the organization and formation of networks for the exchange of information and participation of NGOs in the fight against corruption. It is expected to work successfully to facilitate NGO participation in the review mechanisms that UNTOC will implement.

As the main proposal of UNCAC, it will seek to promote an agenda of transparency of the real beneficiaries, this being a crucial issue for the start of a binding project of the agendas. The discussion on real beneficiaries supposes the intersection between agendas of transparency and access to information, privacy and protection of personal data, anti-corruption and organized crime.

The ONG CCRC's proposal is to continue promoting the agenda of complaint lines and protection for whistleblowers. Like the UNCAC proposal, we find in this matter possibilities of connection that would promote the formation of a common agenda and a better coordinated work between organizations and actors dedicated to the fight against corruption and organized crime.

Tags: International cooperation , Whistleblower protection , Integrity systems , Anticorruption ,

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