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Nov 1, 2016

UNCAC Treaty to be Approved by Senate Before Signing in December

Dean Barrow

G.O.B. is poised to bring an end to a long-running story – signing and ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). In September, Prime Minister Dean Barrow agreed to form a working group with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry to set the framework that would see Belize join more than one hundred and forty countries on the roster of signees to the Convention. But opponents contended that there should be no delay in signing and ratifying, and today the Cabinet agreed. A Press Office statement announced that the Senate will be asked to meet in a Special Session to formally consider and approve a motion authorising accession to the UNCAC. If the Senate approves, the Prime Minister will sign on December ninth an Instrument of Accession that would be submitted to the United Nations Secretary General bringing the treaty into force in Belize on that very day. However, as the Prime Minister told a press conference on September first, that is when the real work begins.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: September 1st, 2016]

“I have the convention here; I went and read it. Participation, conference of state parties…being parties to the convention and members to the mechanism which we will be once we sign the convention will mean this: physical participation at the meetings; two, preparations of periodic national reports is a serious and comprehensive exercise which requires all types of resources—human, technical, financial—bearing in mind that the entity tasked to prepare such report must consult with the various stakeholders and relevant sectors. Similarly, when the country is tasked to analyze another country’s report, human resources will also need to be invested therein. Other issues…we have to establish a specific anticorruption body; we have to make sure that we have a witness protection program in place. These are matters that will require a serious mobilization of human and financial resources and the point I try to make in explaining why, despite my desire to sign—I thought we had to proceed carefully—is that if you sign and you don’t ensure that you are able to implement and implement fully, you know what will happen. They will call you to account, they will put you on blast; that you are not fully compliant and they will use that to screw you over even more with things like correspondent banking relationships. So look, what has happened now….the Chamber and I have agreed because I want to, but we must have that working committee to advice on how to proceed.”

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