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International conference: Beyond Anti-Corruption Rhetoric: Coalition Building and Monitoring Impact
 
International Conference
March 23-24, 2001
Sofia

Approximately a 100 representatives of non-governmental organizations and public officials from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, as well as representatives of bilateral aid agencies and international organizations, such as USAID, OECD, the World Bank, the European Union, UNDP, the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe and Hans Seidel Foundation, took part in the International Conference organized by Coalition 2000. Among the participants were also representatives of state institutions and non-governmental organizations from the Samara and Tomsk Regions of the Russian Federation. Leaders of Bulgarian political parties, members of Parliament, US Ambassador to Bulgaria Mr. Richard Miles, UK Ambassador Mr. Richard Stagg, German Ambassador Ms. Ursula Seiler-Albring, the Ambassador of Sweden Mr. Sten Ask and members of foreign embassies and missions in Sofia also attended the event.

The Conference was part of a series of events organized by the Coalition aimed at sharing experiences such as Coalition Building and Monitoring in Anti-Corruption: Strategies and Impact in Central and Eastern Europe, held in June 1999 in Varna, and the Southeast Europe Anti-Corruption Forum, held in Sofia in February 2000. The purpose of this third international conference was to review the experiences gained by the Coalition in establishing public-private partnerships, to assess the results and impact from implementing this anti-corruption instrument, and to encourage further cooperation among governmental and non-governmental organizations, especially in Southeastern Europe, within the existing bilateral and multilateral instruments against corruption and organized crime, as a security building measure for the region in the framework of the Stability Pact.

The opening session, chaired by Dr. Ognian Shentov, President of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), included contributions by the US Ambassador to Bulgaria Richard Miles,Ambassador Donald Kursh, Principal Deputy Special Coordinator, Stability Pact for SoutheastEurope, the Ambassador of Sweden Sten Ask, and UK Ambassador Richard Stagg.

The Conference then proceeded by breaking into plenary sessions and four workshops, which explored a wide range of problems, associated with corrupt practices in the region and identified priorities for combating them. The discussions focused on several important topical areas.

The focus of the first plenary session, Regional Anti-corruption Strategies in Southeast Europe, was on the assessment of corruption monitoring as both a policy design and awareness tool, the impact and lessons learned from coalition building, and the regionalization of anti-corruption cooperation efforts in the region.

Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the first comparative survey and Corruption Assessment Indexes designed for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Mr. Boyko Todorov, Coordinator for the Southeast Europe Legal Development Initiative (SELDI), reported on the role and significance of cooperation between governmental institutions and civil society in assessing corruption in the countries of Southeast Europe. SELDI is the first NGO-led effort for promoting legal cooperation as an instrument for regional development. It was developed by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the International Development Law Institute in Rome based on favorable reaction to Coalition 2000. The first results of this initiative, the creation of a forum for partnership in the region, were presented at the Conference.

The Regional Corruption Monitoring System was evaluated as a specific anti-corruption tool with awareness, research and policy implications. Country results were analyzed by Mr. Auron Pasha, Executive Director, Institute for Development Research and Alternatives -Tirana; Mr. Damir Jandricek, Gallup-Croatia; Ms. Ivana Aleksic, Center for Policy Studies-Belgrade; Mr. Arben Tabaku, Project Manager, Albanian Center for Economic Research-Tirana; Mr. Danilo Vukovic, Managing Director, Partner Marketing Consulting Agency-Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, CSD Director of Research. Along with a discussion on national corruption monitoring surveys, comparisons between countries were made, and SELDI Corruption Diagnostics were also evaluated.

The Developing Anti-corruption Strategies and Building Public-Private Partnerships panel discussed existing strategic concepts for involving civic organizations in transition countries in the fight against corruption in the context of their transition to a pluralist democracy and market economy. Presentations emphasized the impact of NGOs as initiators/generators of partnerships with government agencies, as well as their role in exercising pressure on these agencies and serving as a watchdog for reform efforts. An inventory of instruments employed by anti-corruption public-private partnerships: legislative inputs (e.g., the introduction of the Ombudsman institution), social marketing techniques and awareness campaigns, local government pilot projects, and anti-corruption education were also discussed.

Coalition 2000' s experience in establishing public-private partnership at the local level, which included a manual on anti-corruption instruments and best practices, was presented by Dr. Zhivka Damyanova, Coalition 2000 Coordinator. The institution of the local mediator (ombudsman), initiated and implemented by Coalition 2000' s local partners, were also considered by foreign participants. A number of questions were answered by Ms. Iliana Doneva, local mediator at Shoumen Municipality, Ms. Evelina Dosseva of Pleven Municipality and Ms. Mila Georgieva of the Black Sea Legal Association, Bourgas region.

Ms. Helene Holm-Pedersen, OECD anti-corruption network manager, informed participants about the panel's main conclusions and proposals for next steps at the Third Annual Meeting of the Anti-corruption Network convened in Istanbul, March 20-22, 2001.

The participants' attention was focused also on another important aspect in the fight against corruption - the role of civil society and the media.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Coordinator of the Judicial Reform Initiative in Bulgaria, reported on public-private partnerships in developing a legal basis for judicial reform in Bulgaria and human rights protection and promotion through the establishment of the Ombudsman institution in the country, and provoked a discussion on the legal, as well as moral aspects, of anti-corruption activities.

Dr. Emil Tsenkov, CSD Senior Fellow, and Dr. Andrey Ivanov, UNDP Human Development Report Coordinator raised important discussion points, such as the impact of the media on public perceptions of corruption and changes in public attitudes, the role of investigative journalism, obstacles caused by imperfections in existing legislation, the need of better regulation in accessing information, etc. The discussion exposed the increasing role of the media in the development of anti-corruption initiatives at national and local levels, as well as the improvement in quality of their coverage of corruption issues. Various forms of partnerships initiated and implemented by Coalition 2000, such as the expert group on investigative journalism, media corruption monitoring efforts, and joint anti-corruption publications, were also discussed by the panel.

Mr. Lyubomir Koutin, Varna City and Culture Foundation President, presented a sociological survey made among pupils in the secondary educational system in the city of Varna. The survey results were analyzed and recommendations were offered calling for further action for improving the anti-corruption environment at schools. Ms. Svetlana Lenivkina, Director of Business-Club "Renaissance" Russia; Mr. Vladimir Zaitsev, Director, Samara Consult, Russia; Mr. Sergey Saveliev, Chief of Staff and Administration, Samara Oblast Administration, Russia; Ms. Valentina Pestrikova, Vice-Director, Samara Regional Association "Povoljie", Russia; Mr. Vladimir Shevchenko, Assistant to the Governor, Tomsk Oblast Administration, Russia; Ms. Galina Popova, Russian Children Fund, Siberian Support Center of the Civic Initiative, Tomsk Oblast Branch, Russia; and Ms. Olga Koneva, Deputy Director General, Partnership of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Tomsk, Russia presented the anti-corruption situation in two Russian regions - Samara and Tomsk.

In his report "Partnerships or Dependencies" Mr. Corbin Lyday, Senior Policy Analyst, USAID, reported on the experience of public-private partnerships within the framework of USAID's Implementing Policy Change Project, a wide-ranging program undertaken by the Global Bureau's Center for Democracy and Governance. Stressing the assumption that "the positive experiences of a limited number of organizations such as Bulgaria's Coalition 2000, can easily be duplicated in other transition states", Mr. Lyday pointed out some critical challenges, which included the need for new partnerships for maintaining integrity and independence, the need for increasing transparency, as well as for increasing verifiable economic performance. Further elaboration on these challenges and other specific problems in the building of public-private partnerships in transition countries was given by Ms. Anastasia Moser, MP, Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Group of the People's Union, Dr. Ognian Shentov, Mr. Boyko Todorov, Mr. Danilo Vukovic, and Mr. Adrian Baboi-Stroe.

Corruption and trans-border crime, fighting organized crime and the link between corruption and trafficking were other issues brought to the discussion by Ambassador Victor Jackovich, Associate Director for International Liaison, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Garmish-Patenkirchen, Mr. Richard N. Seaman, Criminal Law Program Director, American Bar Associations & Central East European Law Initiative, Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst, Vitosha Research and Mr. Ivailo Angelov, Expert, Coalition 2000. Contributions were also made by Colonel Christofor Masov, Deputy Director of the National Service on Counteracting Organized Crime and Mr. Vladimir Shevchenko, Assistant to the Governor, Tomsk Oblast Administration, Russia.

Among the themes explored were trafficking in goods, people, drugs and arms, money laundering, and organized crime's impact on the individual, society, economic development, and security and the democratization process in the region. The tools developed in the countries of Southeast Europe and the international instruments to which the countries present have signed up to were also discussed. The participants underlined the necessity of:

  • Regional solutions to the problem of corruption and trafficking;

  • Prevention through law enforcement techniques;

  • Professional training and combating corruption within state institutions engaged in the fight against corruption;

  • Civil society organizations' monitoring and control, and
  • Public-private partnership.


  • Conference agenda
    List of participants
    Media coverage
     
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