Organization of American States Must Collaborate With NGOs

By YENA SEO, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (opinion)

At the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) Conference, various organizations and committees have been tasked with dealing with the topic of corruption and exposing corruption at multiple levels of government. Corruption is one of the main topics discussed by the Organization of American States, and two bodies in the NGO Organizations Program, Transparency International and Global Integrity, seek to eradicate corruption around the world.

Despite the overlap in missions and interests, the Organization of American States has failed to adequately integrate the work of non-governmental organizations into its working papers. Only one of the four papers presented, “Bottoms Up” (Working Paper 1.4), is sponsored by NGOs. Global Integrity, Transparency International, and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance have expressed their support for the “Bottoms Up” paper and agreed to be sponsors.

While corruption can occur on many levels of government, it is commonly found in local and regional levels, where there is less transparency and oversight. NGOs have proved to be a key part in eliminating and exposing corruption at these lower levels of government, as many of them are familiar with the specific regions and have worked on data accumulation for years. Papers that do not incorporate the work of NGOs facilitate a top-down approach that simply does not do enough to address the complexity of corruption issues.

Several of the working papers presented by blocs in the Organization of American States have been very comprehensive in their approaches to corruption. Multiple papers have unique ideas, such as the implementation of an Ethics Committee and the creation of a regional economic coalition of developing nations, to be known as the “large small state coalition.” However, these papers could be further bolstered by the integration of non-governmental organizations, whose very missions are to seek out corruption and eliminate it.

During interviews with The Wall Street Journal, the delegates representing Transparency International and Global Integrity expressed dismay that many nations neglected to understand the role of NGOs in addressing corruption. Transparency International, for example, publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index and a Bribe Papers Index, both of which could be of great use to potential ethics committees and regional coalitions proposed by several of the working papers.

Rather than using a top-down approach and creating new measures, task forces and committees to address corruption, it would be in the best interest of the Organization of American States to utilize the vast resources at their disposal. Several of these non-governmental organizations are familiar with many of the governments known for corrupt activities, and have their own funding mechanisms and structures. If the Organization of American States wishes to pass the most comprehensive, effective solution that addresses corruption at all levels of government, collaborating with non-governmental organizations is of the utmost importance.

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The work of non-governmental organizations such as Global Integrity (left) and Transparency International (middle) have been largely neglected in the working papers presented by the Organization of American States.

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