Minister of Justice Luis Bates opened the first APEC Anti-Corruption Experts Group Meeting, and stated that the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum might become an example for the international community for its anti-corruption endeavor. The APEC Experts Meeting is the result of a proposal presented by Korea, the United States and Chile in June, that responds to the express directives of APEC Leaders and is aimed to fight corruption, which is considered to be a "major obstacle for economic and social development" and to "promote transparency through the implementation of general and specific transparency standards" (Bangkok Declaration, October 2003).
The Minister of Justice explained that "APEC may become an example for the international community if it can move forward in the implementation of these measures, as an Asia Pacific organization. A country's development is closely related to corruption: there is a relationship between poverty and corruption, a fact supported by researchers on the subject. Economic development relates to reducing corruption rates. It cannot be swept from the face of the earth, but it can be reduced".
The proposal presented by Korea, the United States and Chile, entitled "APEC Leaders' Commitment to Fighting Corruption and Ensuring Transparency" aims to trigger a course of action to ensure the implementation of measures against corruption, including the UN protocols.
"Laws implemented at international level must be complemented with prevention, control, and educational measures, among others. But aside from social control measures, I believe emphasis should be made in people's training, in the promotion of values (...). Both components are necessary: legislation and the promotion of ethics. These are medium- and long-term cultural changes.
In direct reference to domestic current events, Minister Bates indicated that "for instance, the UN Convention is addressing - for the first time - the matter of restituting public assets that have been appropriated and taken from the country to fiscal havens, where international systems to recover assets are not operational. Once ratified, the challenge will be to put them into practice."
China's Deputy Supervision Minister, Huang Shuxian, explained the initiatives adopted by China in the area of anti-corruption, which he referred to as very important for the establishment of adequate conditions for a market economy system. The Ambassador of the United States, Craig Kelly, noted that "we congratulate President Ricardo Lagos, Chair of APEC 2004, for his leadership in driving the commitment of the Leaders in Bangkok last year, by inviting APEC Economies to work jointly against corruption and to ensure transparency".
Mr. Euy-whan KIM, Director for International and NGOs Cooperation Div. of Korea's Independent Commission Against Corruption (KICAC), also made a presentation. The Anti-Corruption Experts hope to set the grounds for an APEC initiative on Anti-Corruption and Transparency in 2005, during Korea's pro-tempore Chairmanship of APEC
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