On December 14, 2005, the United Nations Convention against Corruption was entered into force after a high level political signing conference was held in Merida, Yucatan where several countries signed onto the agreement. In a message written by the then Secretary General of the UN, Koffi Annan, he basically capsulated what the document seeks to address, saying, quote, “The adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption will send a clear message that the international community is determined to prevent and control corruption. It will warn the corrupt that betrayal of the public trust will no longer be tolerated. And it will reaffirm the importance of core values such as honesty, respect for the rule of law, accountability and transparency in promoting development and making the world a better place for all. End of quote. It is an interesting document and does seek to accomplish what all political parties have been lobbying for, at least in theory. Belize, however, is not a signatory to this convention against corruption and that is where the press release from the Belize Progressive Party comes in. The release was sent out today demanding that Prime Minister Dean Barrow sign onto the document. Paco Smith of the BPP spoke on the importance for Belize to sign onto the UNCAC document.
“Renee, it is essential that Belize signs onto this document for a number of reasons. I could list the ways but let us begin by first talking about the manifestation of this that being signed onto such a document, regionally. Anyone who has been attuned to what is going on regionally, meaning Central America knows that our neighbor to the west, their President was taken up on corruption charges. Guatemala is a signatory to this document. If you go back several years with regards to Honduras there was a situation also involving someone at the executive level and corruption. It’s important that Belize sign onto this number one because fundamentally it is the right thing to do and number two it is legally binding.”
Smith went on to tell Love News that had the Belize Progressive Party won the recent elections, the signing of the document would have been priority for them.
“If a Government and or its representative mean well by the population in terms of stamping out corruption, dealing with corruption at its root causes, I, in my honest assessment, can see no reason why there would be hesitation to sign onto this document. As part of our platform we said unequivocally that had things worked out accordingly and the BPP formed the new government that would have been one of our very first acts as government, to sign this very very important document.”
The United Nations Convention against Corruption focuses on several areas, namely, prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and asset recovery. There are one hundred and forty signatories to the UNCAC.