International conference "A culture of integrity – Enhancing prevention of corruption"

Slika /slike/vijesti naslovnica/2022/svibanj/Konferencija/IMG_5303.JPG

"By building a culture of integrity we raise awareness of the importance of combating corruption", said Minister of Justice and Public Administration Ivan Malenica at the international conference "A Culture of integrity – Enhancing prevention of corruption", held on 23-24 May in Šibenik.

The conference organised by the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime brought together ministers from six Southeast European countries, directors of anti-corruption agencies and representatives of international NGOs dedicated to fighting corruption. 

Minister Malenica stressed that personal integrity, social integrity and institutional integrity are indivisible from each other. 

"Personal integrity as the values that we accept as individuals, social integrity as the values that we stand for as a society, and institutional integrity as the values that we build as a country – these three elements must be developed in dialogue and co-operation among countries, international institutions and civil society," the Minister said. 

He recalled that Croatia had adopted a new 10-year Anti-Corruption Strategy 2021-2030, which encompasses measures aimed at prevention and raising awareness that corruption diminishes equal opportunities, undermines the stability of societies and threatens fundamental democratic values. 

Walter Kemp of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC) underlined the special value of the conference, as it brought together government bodies, anti-corruption agencies and civil society, whose cooperation is key to making progress in the fight against corruption. He stressed that the common response should be sought in a culture of integrity. 

The conference included eight panel discussions on the role of the state in strengthening the culture of integrity, national and international experiences in establishing a culture of integrity, prevention of corruption and regional cooperation, the role of international organisations, experiences, changes and responses relating to transnational organised corruption, the role of civil society, the issue of illicit money flows and restitution of assets as well as the social reuse of confiscated assets. 

States play an important role in raising awareness about the prevention of corruption by strengthening independent institutions and establishing straightforward procedures. In building a culture of integrity, it is essential for state officials to be aware about the importance of respect for ethical principles. Codes of ethics for state officials are a key instrument for strengthening citizens' trust in institutions and authorities. Quality regulations without quality implementation will not produce results – these are the conclusions of the panel discussions. 

Ambassador Uglješa Zvekić of the Global Initiative emphasized the need for the constant updating of both international conventions and national legislation in order to tackle new forms of corruption related to organised crime more effectively. In that regard, prevention should include the development of appropriate measures to prevent corruptive ties between organised crime, politics and business, the so-called organised corruption. 

The role of civil society in preventing corruption on local as well as national, regional and international levels is particularly significant. Ambassador Zvekić explained that a culture of integrity meant fostering of a culture of public dialogue around the promotion of new initiatives and legislation in the anti-corruption field. He concluded that the conference provided an exceptional and unique opportunity for dialogue between government institutions and civil society, expressing expectations for similar positive experiences in the future. 

Main conclusions of the conference "Culture of Integrity – Enhancing Prevention of Corruption": 
Although progress has been achieved in the prosecution of corruption crimes in the countries of Southeast Europe, there is a continued need for re-evaluation and improvement of the fight against corruption. 
The strengthening of integrity is one of the cornerstones in the prevention of corruption. A strong preventive component that includes transparency, access to information, anti-corruption education and whistleblower protection should be the focus of national anti-corruption strategies. 
The importance of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as the most comprehensive legally binding and universal instrument against corruption must be underlined, as well as the importance of the Council of Europe Conventions on corruption and the work of the Council of Europe's corruption body GRECO. These mechanisms should be strengthened by countries through international and bilateral cooperation within the framework of organisations such as the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI). 
Civil society and academia have a significant role to play in the fight against corruption, adding value to anti-corruption policies. 
The key to the success of strategic anti-corruption documents is in their implementation, and all citizens should be involved in the fight against corruption.