Belize Represented at High-Level UNCAC Conference in Austria.
The Attorney General Hon. Michael Peyrefitte along with Crown Counsel Odwin Trenton are currently representing Belize at the Seventh Session of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Conference of State Parties. The Conference is taking place at the seat of the secretariat, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (the UNODC), from the 6th – 10th November 2017, Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria.
The Government of Belize through the Attorney General’s Ministry, the Focal Point of the UNCAC, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has embarked upon a gap analysis of the currently existing institutional and legislative framework with an aim of developing a comprehensive, progressive and practical action plan for implementing Belize’s anti-corruption regime.
As a State Party of the UNCAC, Belize in accordance with Article 63, is required to participate in the Conference of the State Parties to the Convention (COSP). The COSP was established to improve the capacity of and cooperation between State Parties to achieve the objectives set out in the UNCAC and to promote and review its implementation.
In tandem with this approach, the Government voluntarily submitted to the Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) to assist Belize in the effective implementation of the UNCAC. The review of implementation and the IRM falls under the authority of the COSP as it is one of the salient procedures utilized to achieve the objectives set out in the UNCAC.
In accordance with the “Rules of Procedure for the Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC”, Rule 3, the COSP is required to meet annually. Due to the need to meet important decisions, the Secretariat strongly encouraged government representation at the highest political level. Therefore, the Attorney General Hon. Michael Peyrefitte is currently in attendance along with Crown Counsel Odwin Trenton, Interim Project Coordinator, UNCAC Project Board.
The Seventh Session will address the effectiveness of the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the UNCAC or the IRM and resolutions on a myriad of anti-corruption measures. Pursuant to Article 63, paragraph 5, of the UNCAC, the COSP is to acquire the necessary knowledge of the measures taken by State Parties in implementing the UNCAC and the difficulties encountered by them in doing so. The aim is to review the process to identify challenges and good practices and technical assistance to ensure the effective implementation of the UNCAC.
This year’s discussion will also centre on Preventative Measures in the fight against corruption, Asset Recovery, and International Cooperation as it relates to the challenges encountered and good practices. Additional matters to be discussed include the implementation of Article 63 concerning cooperation with relevant international and regional organizations and mechanism and non-governmental organizations; as well as the appropriate use of relevant information produced by other international and regional mechanisms for combatting and preventing corruption, to avoid unnecessary duplication of work.
Belize’s delegation met with Haiti and Tuvalu, the reviewing State Parties reviewing Belize’s first cycle of implementation of Chapters III and IV of the UNCAC. During these bilateral consultations, Belize was praised for being the first country to submit the self-assessment checklist in this cycle on time. Haiti and Tuvalu are both committed to the review process and once all official communications are received from these two states, there will be a country visit to Belize in the latter part of January 2018, to further review the institutional and legislative framework.
After the country visit has concluded, the reviewing State Parties will prepare a country review report, including an executive summary of the report, in close cooperation and coordination with Belize and with the assistance of UNODC. The recommendations emanating from this report will form the basis for the action plan to implement the necessary changes to strengthen Belize’s anti-corruption regime.
It is almost a year since Belize acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and even though it has only been eleven months, the Government of Belize has made the implementation of the UNCAC a priority.