The “Non-Governmental Group” in the “The Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network (ACINET)” affirms that promoting integrity and combating corruption is still an urgent demand and a very important priority from the perspective of people in the Arab region. This is due to the severe threat that corruption poses to various aspects of human security, human rights in all its forms, and the political, economic, and social development in all countries in the region, rich and poor, regardless of the differences in their political systems and their national and local specificities.
In a statement issued by the group after its meeting yesterday in Beit Meri, Lebanon, the group welcomes the efforts made by societies and governments throughout the Arab region. However, it believes that these efforts, despite the progress made on several levels, do not live up to the level of aspirations, nor respond to the requirements of advancing sustainable development according to the 2030 plan issued by the United Nations, and the various national development plans approved by the countries of the region.
The group specifically expresses its dissatisfaction with the efforts made to achieve goal No.16 of the sustainable development goals, which, from the group’s perspective, is about promoting societal peace, preserving the rule of law, respecting human rights, and establishing the rule of law and institutions. The group warns of the dire consequences that will befall the countries of the region, due to falling short of the people’s legitimate aspirations for freedom, justice, and dignified life.
The group requests that all parties, such as (politicians, legislators, government officials, public servants, businesswomen, civil activists, the media, and the influencers), assume their historical responsibilities toward the citizens, especially the poor, vulnerable groups, and the rising generations, by honing their mettle and enabling joint work to implement the UN’s Anti Corruption agreement. This also requires full commitment to integrity, transparency, and accountability at all levels of both the private and public sectors, and in political, economic, and social areas.
It announces that it has completed, as part of its partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a consultative approach for a whole year, based on various surveys and meetings. This resulted in establishing 8 pillars which will be the basis for establishing and implementing its program for the next 2 years, which are as follows:
1: The right to access information is the pillar of transparency that is indispensable “sine qua non” to ensure accountability in the management of public affairs and public funds, and is an important means of preventing corruption as well as promoting economic competitiveness, human rights, and public freedoms.
2: The natural resources of our countries such as oil, gas, minerals, and other renewable resources are a wealth not only possessed by today's generations, but rather entrusted to us to keep for future generations, as it needs proper governance with the highest possible levels of transparency to get the optimal investment of them. However, this requires respecting the competitiveness’ principles, without harming the environment, damaging biodiversity, and accelerating the pace of climate change, in addition to ensuring that its revenues are employed to achieve sustainable development.
3: The role of civil society in formulating public policies and participating in decision-making and community oversight is an part integral of any good governance, and any political, economic, social and cultural renaissance. However, eliminating and restricting its role, and taking away the available space for it to develop its capabilities and work responsibly with all other parties is a crime against our societies that should be addressed and rescinded.
4: With all the changes happening in the world and the shift towards investing in local development, community accountability at the local level emerges as an essential means to guarantee the fair distribution of wealth, and public services, and ensure its quality, so that no one is left behind and sustainable development is achieved for all.
5: Political integrity, whether the people in question are government officials or not, is a priority that cannot be overlooked. It requires more seriousness to deepen discussions on political corruption and the means of addressing it in different areas such as constitutional frameworks and election laws, as well as the mechanisms for financing political parties and elections on various levels, the work mechanisms of the house of representatives and the council of ministers, the role of politicians in administrative, judicial, military, security and other important positions in the state.
6: The protection of whistleblowers, witnesses, informants, and experts, is a major component of the system for promoting integrity and combating corruption, despite the many difficulties that impede its implementation. It is an indispensable part of our shared aim of aiding law enforcement agencies to expose and combat corruption, establishing citizenship, and bolstering the citizens’ trust in the state.
7: The independence of anti-corruption and oversight bodies is an fundamental guarantee in activating the efforts to promote integrity, raise awareness, prevent corruption, ensure impartiality and professionalism, and develop sound financial management, punish the corrupt and recover the funds derived from their crimes.
8: National anti-corruption strategies provide important frameworks for joint dialogue, collective action and taking responsibility. It should be accompanied by participatory frameworks to follow up on their implementation and assess their quality and effectiveness in reality.
The group is committed to preparing and publishing a regional position paper on each of the aforementioned priorities, before the middle of next year. It would also like to express its deepest gratitude and appreciation to Mr. Sharaf Al-Musawi for his service as coordinator for the non-governmental group over the past 4 years and welcomes Mr. Majed Al-Mutairi who is chosen as the new coordinator for the next two years.