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The Lima Declaration, Corruption, the Third World and Pakistan

From 7 to 11 Sept this year, delegates from 93 countries assembled at Lima, Peru for the 8th International Conference Against Corruption. After a searching discussion of the means to contain corruption in all its manifestation around the globe and united in their vision of an era of international and national cooperation in the 21st century in which the evil of corruption is to be suppressed, the conference adopted a Declaration, to quote, “Convinced that corruption erodes the moral fabric of every society, violates the social and economic rights of the poor and the vulnerable, undermines democracy, subverts the rule of law which is the basis of every civilized society, retards development and denies societies and particularly the poor, the benefits of full and open competition. BELIEVING that fighting corruption is the business of everyone throughout every society, the fight involves the defence and strengthening of the ethical values in all societies, it is essential that coalition be formed between government, civil society and the private sector, that a willingness to enter such a coalition is a true test of an individual government’s commitment to the elimination of corruption, the role of civil society being of special importance to overcome the resistance of those with a stake in status quo and to mobilize people generally behind meaningful reforms, there must be a sustained campaign against corruption within the private sector as with greater privatization and deregulation, it assumes a greater role in activities traditionally performed by the State and top leadership sets the tone in all societies, as “You can clean a staircase by starting at the top”. The Declaration then called upon governments, international, regional agencies and citizens around the world to mobilize their efforts and energies to join in achieving their goals at various levels”, unquote.

There were 20 actions recommended by THE LIMA DECLARATION at the international and regional levels and 17 actions at the national and local levels. Among the actions proposed at the highest tier were that viz (1) the World Bank and IMF should accelerate implementation of their new policies against corruption initiated by President James Wolfensohn and Managing Director Camdessus (respectively), and particularly the suspension of lending to governments who do not adequately address the corruption issue (2) all multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, together with their development partners, must find practical ways of overcoming corruption in their development programmes and (3) International institutions must realize that their international procurement practices are not yet fully satisfactory, and that they should further develop imaginative and new approaches to procurement in partnership with individual governments and the private sector including the use of anti-bribing and integrity pacts. Bidders who bribe should be blacklisted. Among the important personalities who held a Video-Conference with the delegates at LIMA was activist World Bank (WB) President James Wolfensohn. It may be noted that it is only after his induction as President that the World Bank has been engaged in a sustained exercise to prevent corruption in all the sectors that it can be engaged in. In the Third World mired in corruption, James Wolfensohn is like a breath of fresh air, a glimmer of hope for the teeming poverty-stricken millions of the world that the succour and aid meant for them will be used for their benefit and not end up in the deep pockets of the unscrupulous. The WB head being engaged thus is very symbolic to the rest of the world in their fight against corruption. It is very important that some exemplary cases be taken up and investigated thoroughly to determine the whole gamut of corruption, since it extends from the portals of donor WB itself to various agencies and individuals within the recipient country.