On April 14, 2018, during the VIII Summit of the Americas, the heads of government agreed to the Lima Commitment with respect to “Democratic Governance against Corruption.”
The commitment includes provisions to reinforce democratic governance, including” the strengthening of democratic institutions for the prevention of and fight against corruption in the Hemisphere.” It comes at a time when many of the governments in the hemisphere, such as Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil are undergoing a crisis of stability largely due to corruption issues.
The commitment has a section on “transparency, access to information, protection of whistleblowers, and human rights, including freedom of expression.” The section commits to increasing national anti-corruption measures or systems and strengthening conditions for the effective participation of civil society, social organizations, academia, the private sector, citizens, and other social actors in monitoring government performance, including the development of prevention mechanisms, channels for reporting possible acts of corruption and facilitating the work of watchdogs including other citizen oversight mechanisms, and incentivizing the adoption of digital means of participation.” One of the initiatives is to promote the establishment of an Inter-American Data Program within the OAS in order to strengthen open information policies and increase the capacity of governments and citizens to prevent and fight corruption.
A section concerns “financing of political organizations and election campaigns.”
A section on the “prevention of corruption in public works and public procurement and contracting.” One element is to request that the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG), together with other relevant regional and international bodies, develop an infrastructure platform to facilitate the exchange of experiences, training and cooperation programs for project monitoring and development, feasibility and risk analysis studies, transparent bidding procedures, and government procurement.”
A section focuses on “international legal cooperation: the fight against bribery, international corruption, organized crime, and money laundering; and asset recovery.” Among the action agreed is continuing to implement, prior to the IX Summit of the Americas, the applicable recommendations from the specific rounds of the Implementation Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as well as the recommendations from the successive rounds of the Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC).
A section focuses on “strengthening of Inter-American Anti-Corruption Mechanisms.” One action item is to identify resources to strengthen its operations with a view to more efficiently address the new challenges that corruption poses in the Hemisphere. The document contains a series of recommendations, such as calling on MESICIC to promote instruments for the exchange and dissemination of best practices, technical capacities, and measures to strengthen legal and institutional frameworks to prevent and combat corruption that will contribute to the implementation of its recommendations.
The final section concerns “follow-up and reports.” The Lima Commitment requests the Joint Summit Work Group (JSWG) to help States with resources and technical capacity-building, so that they can implement the commitments undertaken at the Summit in the area of strengthening democratic governance and anti-corruption efforts. The section calls upon the private sector in general to adopt similar initiatives as those in the “Private Sector Commitment to Transparency” of the American Business Dialogue presented at the III CEO Summit of the America.
The challenges for the stakeholders in the VIII Summit of the Americas will be to garner sufficient resources, implementation, and enforcement mechanisms, so that the lofty commitments can come to fruition. In particular, the Organization of American States, which provided much of the organizational work for the Summits of the Americas, has limited resources. In addition, the JSWG has limited resources and authority to implement the provisions of the commitment. The Summits of the Americas illustrate an effort by governments, the private sector, and civil society to develop government networks. In the VIII Summit of the Americas, the prioritization is on anti-corruption. It is quite appropriate since the prosecutions in Operation Car Wash and especially of heads of government (Dilma Rousseff) and former heads of government (Lula da Silva) have generated an agreement to cooperate in the enforcement of the Oderbrecht case and has triggered investigations and resignations of high-level officials in Ecuador and Peru, as well as a proliferation of prosecutions and civil cases for corruption. There will be a more comprehensive look at the Lima Commitment in the current issue of the IELR journal.