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Regional director of International IDEA proposes a never again approach to impunity in Latin America

Daniel Zovatto (second from left) during his presentation; to his right Margarita López Maya of the UCV: to his left, Rafael Fernández de Castro of ITAM; Sarah Chayez of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Arturo Valenzuela of the Covington and Burling. Photo credit: International IDEA.

To mark its 40th anniversary, the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center organized a conference to discuss the domestic and international challenges confronting Latin America, which saw the participation of International IDEA´s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Daniel Zovatto and brought together important personalities including the former President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Heraldo Muñoz. The meeting focused on the political impacts of corruption in Latin America and the challenges of regional integration.

Este articulo se encuentra disponible en Castellano.


The Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Daniel Zovatto, participated in the Conference "Latin America´s Domestic and International Challenges", organized by the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC on 28 September 2017, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Latin American Program of the Center.

The conference, which was inaugurated by Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program, was divided into morning and afternoon working sessions. The morning keynote was delivered by the former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, followed by deliberations on the political impact of corruption in the region and the strategies to overcome this serious scourge that is undermining and weakening the credibility of both the democratic political system and its main institutions. Similarly, the afternoon keynote was given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Heraldo Muñoz, with experts focusing on analyzing the current opportunities and challenges of the process of regional integration and its relationship with President Trump´s international policy for Latin America. The conference was attended by outstanding regional leaders, policymakers, academics and representatives of the private sector. (See the full programme here).

Daniel Zovatto, who presented during the morning session, shared the panel with Sarah Chayes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Rafael Fernández de Castro from the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology (ITAM-Mexico); Margarita López Maya from the Central University of Venezuela and Arturo Valenzuela from Covington & Burling. During his presentation entitled “Corruption in Latin America: current situation and challenges,” Zovatto proposed the need to adopt a new, comprehensive approach that links corruption, influence-peddling, and conflicts of interest with the financing of politics, with the aim of protecting the integrity not only of the electoral process but also of the political system as a whole.

According to Zovatto, the fight against corruption demands both preventive and repressive strategies, but at the same time both must be complemented by a cultural change, especially in a region such as Latin America that has been suffering from the corruption menace for a long time. He added that it is also necessary to eradicate the incentives that encourage corruption through effective regulations and to have a strong commitment and political will from the highest levels of government and administration.

In the opinion of the Director, two of the main weapons to combat corruption are institutional integrity and transparency frameworks, highlighting the need for an end to impunity. He pointed out that although there is no "silver-bullet" against corruption, some tools have been very effective; for example, the mechanism of award-winning demarcation in recent judicial cases in Brazil. Another good practice is to strengthen the investigative powers of the judiciary, pointing out that, the courts should not hesitate to investigate and punish corruption at the highest level, since ending impunity is key to achieving the rule of law and quality democracy in Latin America.

Zovatto concluded his presentation proposing a regional consensus to eradicate corruption with a never more approach to impunity in Latin America.

Additional reading and interview of Daniel Zovatto on the Wilson Center NOW program, available here.

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