Photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Following a preparatory process marked by uncertainty resulting from the political instability in the country, on 13 and 14 April 2018 Peru hosted the Eighth Summit of the Americas. It ended with a consensus among the authorities from the 34 countries in attendance, agreeing on 57 actions distributed over seven major topics in a declaration called the "Lima Commitment".
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The first major topic is the strengthening of democratic governance. The aim is to strengthen democratic institutions for the prevention of and fight against corruption, strengthen judicial independence and autonomy, promote a culture of transparency, citizen participation and the prevention of corruption as from early childhood, adopt measures for the prevention of conflicts of interests, and promote policies so that gender equity and the inclusion of indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups would become cross-cutting axes.
The second topic of the agreement is related to transparency, access to information, the protection of whistleblowers and human rights, including the freedom of expression. One of the 12 actions agreed upon in this point which is worth underscoring is the agreement to encourage the implementation of policies for open government and fiscal transparency. Another significant point concerns consolidation of the autonomy and independence of high-level oversight bodies. Likewise, in the field of multilateral actions, an agreement was reached to launch an Inter-American open data programme within the framework of the Organization of American States.
The third topic concerns the financing of political organizations and electoral campaigns. The actions agreed upon will seek to promote transparency and accountability of the political parties and organizations, primarily in their electoral campaigns, aimed at ensuring that the contributions come from legal sources and at providing sanctions when receiving illegal contributions. International IDEA provided the group in charge of preparing the base document with inputs about this topic. Most suggestions provided through documents or in technical meetings were taken up in this point and a few others were used in other points of the declaration.
The fourth element concerns measures for the prevention of corruption in public works, procurement and public purchases. The idea is to reduce the opportunities for corruption in public works and procurement by using electronic systems, reducing bureaucracy, simplifying procedures and taking other actions.
The fifth point refers to international legal cooperation to fight against bribery, international kickbacks, organized crime and asset laundering. These measures require effective coordination among the authorities of different countries, on different levels and with a diversity of functions. This point is therefore deemed to be one of the most complex ones of the agreement since it involves autonomous entities of the executive branches with widely varying mandates.
Finally, points six and seven set out the measures to strengthen the Inter-American anti-corruption mechanisms and the follow-up and reporting on the Commitment.
The Lima Commitment addresses several aspects of the fight against corruption, some of which directly related to the strengthening of democracy and its institutions, whereby institutions like International IDEA in Peru acquire special relevance. Another important value added is that contributions have been collected from the most dissimilar governments of the continent. Expectations now are that there will be political will to implement the measures agreed upon.
The spirit of the meeting was quite proactive, with few incidents of confrontation. Therefore, the Summit can be considered a positive meeting with more assets than liabilities.