|Overview : |
It is proven that corruption undermines human development and democracy and it is often the most vulnerable who suffer first. Corruption reduces access to public services by diverting public resources for private gain. There are gendered dimensions to corruption, as men and women have different experiences with and perceptions of corruption. For countries to effectively manage limited resources and contribute meaningfully to their sustainable development, there must be substantial reduction in corrupt practices.
Based on the recognition of the above, Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels) calls for a substantial reduction in corruption and bribery in all their forms. Target 16.5 recognizes the importance of a reduction in public perception of corruption as well as the need for transparency in public budgeting and expenditure.
Belize has been affected by a narrowing fiscal space and therefore the need for resources to be efficiently and equitably allocated is amplified. The Government of Belize has recognized the need for improved governance that is transparent and accountable to ensure that as resources become scarcer, that they are appropriately channeled. Likewise, civil society has been vocal about the need for increased measure to combat corruption and channel resources to the most vulnerable.
As a result, and following intense, public, private sector and civil society pressure, Belize acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in December 2016. The UNCAC Self-Assessment often takes place following the ratification of or accession, both to feed into the UNCAC Review Mechanism and to assist the government identifying compliance issues and subsequently prioritize and sequence its anti-corruption reforms.
This project, proposes to employ UNDP’s ‘Going beyond the Minimum’ Approach to ensuring meaningfulness to the UNCAC ratification process. In addition, this project will draw on the technical expertise from both UNODC and UNDP in supporting the government in implementing the UNCAC. Recognizing the validating role of civil society, this project will work with the government in encouraging CSO, including women’s organization participation during the assessment, planning and capacity development processes.
Additionally, the project will employ a rigorous public information and advocacy campaign to address the embedded cultural acceptance of corruption. This is to ensure that the public’s expectation for improved governance is retained over a sustained period of time and also that the public understands the implications of the UNCAC, have a greater understanding of the concept of corruption and understand proposed reform ideas that will eventually results from national assessments. This public information campaign is especially important based on lessons learned from countries in the Caribbean who have recently acceded to the UNCAC and who have had proposed reforms failed as a result of the suspected politicization of reform measures. Therefore this advocacy campaign will require active bi-partisan support in order to counter some of the inherent political risks of a project of this nature.