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Jul 9, 2019

Civil Society’s Role in Implementing UNCAC

In 2016, Belize signed on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC. Since then, government has been tasked with its implementation through the office of the Attorney General.  But the carrying out of this process is not limited to the public sector.  In fact, it includes civil society, as well as the business community.  On Monday, a seminar got underway at the University of the West Indies where various civil society organizations are learning about their role in enforcing transparency and accountability in stomping out corruption.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano attended today’s session.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The only legally binding multilateral treaty on anti-corruption is UNCAC, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.  Belize only just became a signatory to the agreement a few years ago and is in the process of implementing various aspects of the accord.  Part of that process includes working with civil society organizations across the country.

 

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford, Facilitator, UNCAC Workshop

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford

“What this course is doing is strengthening the capacity of civil society to be a strong actor and an integral actor in the implementation of UNCAC.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“So you’re bringing together various participants.  What is the composition of the attendees?”

 

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford

“The attendees are from all over the country and they represent civil society.  As you know, as well, civil society is often considered as the media as the fourth arm of governance and if we are talking about anti-corruption then we need to have institutions that have the capacity to track and monitor accountability and transparency in the operations of government.  And so, the idea here is how do we build the capacity of civil society organizations to so do.”

 

Part of that is also understanding corruption and its effects on achieving developmental objectives.  Participating in the seminar is newly elected president Shawn Saldano of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA.

 

Shawn Saldano

Shawn Saldano, President, COLA

“COLA has a new mandate and that is the full empowerment of our citizenry.  We’re moving away from all this protesting and picketing and we’re looking at this formal way of leveraging the conversation with mutual respect, dialogue and diplomacy in our way forward in the way of strengthening anti-corruption, especially within our country of Belize.  I think it is very important that we gather the relevant facts and information and research and we implement solutions that would be more proactive, that would be more efficient and that would be more effective in solving our societal challenges.”

 

There on behalf of the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, APAMO, is Aquila Flores.  The major takeaways include a push for transparency and accountability.

 

Aquila Flores, Communications Officer, APAMO

Aquila Flores

“A couple key points learned here today is to advocate for transparency and accountability.  It is important to be transparent with our members, especially the workers who are in the field, for instance the rangers and whatnot, to be transparent and to hold each other accountable.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of your participation, is there any knowledge sharing between perhaps what you bring to the table from APAMO versus someone like Caleb [Orozco], for instance and what he brings from his organization?”

 

Aquila Flores

“Definitely.  It is important and really amazing to see the different perspectives with regards to corruption and advocating for change.  For instance, being in the field of environment is different than what someone in the music sector faces day to day.”

According to Carolyn Trench-Sandiford, the idea is to tie UNCAC with the sustainable development goals in order to continue moving forward as a developing country.

 

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford

“We are not just looking at civil society being an actor in the process, but for civil society to appreciate, for example, it is estimated that then percent of our GDP is lost to corruption each year.  So if you have a $3.9 or a $3.8 billion dollars in GDP, you’re talking almost three hundred and eighty billion dollars that is being lost.  So it’s not just about saving but then how do we channel that towards our developmental goals?  So here we are also linking the sustainable development goals to which we have also signed on to.  We are linking the sustainable growth and development strategy which is our national development goals what is it saying about where we want to go as a nation?  What are the issues and challenges that we are confronted with and then what is it that we need to do to address those challenges?”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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