Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland QC has called for greater collaboration among Caribbean member states in the fight against corruption.
She made this urgent appeal at the opening ceremony of the 8th Annual Conference of the Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies (CCAICACB), currently underway in St. Kitts and Nevis. The event is being held under the theme “Controlling Corruption – Preventative Mechanisms Work Better Than Reactive Measures.”
Speaking at the conference, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies.
Stressing that no country, region, or community is immune from corruption, the Secretary-General called for greater commitment and collaboration at national, regional and international levels.
The official said, “Corruption infects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity, and development. And it is one of the biggest impediments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Achieving the SDGs depends absolutely on our ability to get to grips with corruption. And it is telling that the amount of money lost through corruption is equal to the total amount of money needed to successfully implement the SDGS.”
The Commonwealth SG added, “Swift and decisive action is needed. And we need you – your acuity, your wisdom, and your effort, more than ever. Because it falls to us – the upholders of justice and integrity – to work together more closely than ever on preventative action, and to share knowledge and innovation.”
A keynote address by the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris, was also delivered by the Attorney-General (AG), Vincent F Byron, who also echoed the Secretary-General’s call for collaboration.
The AG stressed that corruption remains an insidious evil that risks undermining the very structure of governments and societies that have been long in the making. If corruption is allowed to reach, unchecked, throughout nation-states, Bryon said it may eventually cause all “to descend into unrecognisable anarchies” where uncertainty would become the order of the day. He said, “It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to harness our collective efforts and resources in order to find effective ways to resist and reign in the threat of this scourge.”
The opening ceremony also saw the official launch of a new Commonwealth Secretariat publication titled, Combatting Corruption in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Edited by the Secretariat’s award-winning Adviser and Head of Public Sector Governance, Dr Roger Koranteng, with contributions from six researchers from the Caribbean, the book highlights the success stories of countries that have made significant progress in combatting corruption.
It focuses on six ‘islands of success’ – The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Guyana Standard understands that the countries were selected due to their relatively strong scores on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) or because they have registered a significant improvement in their score on this index over the past decade.
The conference which is organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and St Kitts Integrity Commission in collaboration with the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies will conclude on May 27, 2022 with a communique outlining key priorities and recommendations to be implemented by member countries under the chairmanship of Turks and Caicos.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states. It supports member countries in building democratic and inclusive institutions, strengthening of governance and promoting justice and human rights.