Director General’s speech > Opening of the Model State Parties Conference on Anti-Corruption > Tuesday, 15th of March 2016 > BPML Conference Centre

Madev Balloo, representative of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius
Mr Simon Springet, UN Resident Representative
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Board members of ICAC
Sir Victor Glover, G.O.S.K., former Chief Justice
Mrs Claudia Sayago and Mrs Maria Adomeit from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Mr Premhans Jhugroo, Senior Chief Executive of the Ministry Of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms
Professor Thomas H. Speedy Rice from Washington and Lee University
Professor Jamil D. Mujuzi from University of the Western Cape
Mr Jugdish Joypaul, Media consultant
Mr Gilbert Ahnee, Media consultant
Representatives of the public and private sectors
Educators and Participants
Members of the press
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning
I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all at the opening ceremony of the Model States Parties Anti-corruption conference organised by the independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  Allow me at the very outset to thank the UNODC represented here by Mrs Claudia Sayago and Mrs Maria Adomeit for partnering with the ICAC in the organisation of the model conference. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to Mr Eduardo Campos Martins, Minister Counsellor of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius for having kindly accepted to be our guest speaker.
Ladies and gentlemen

It is an undisputed fact that corruption, if left unchecked, entails high economic and social costs. Transaction costs are increased, public revenues are reduced, resource allocation is distorted, investment and economic growth are delayed and the rule of law is weakened. According to the World Economic Forum, the annual estimated cost of corruption is equal to more than 5 percent of global GDP (i.e 2.6 trillion USD), with over $1 trillion paid in bribes each year. These are in a nutshell some of the negative aspects of corruption but which have a profound bearing on the country and society at large.

The effects of corruption on economic growth and human development are indisputable, with impacts being felt greater in developing countries where governance systems are often weak and financial resources limited. Overall, corruption reduces efficiency and increases inequality. It is usually said that corruption adds at least 10% to the cost of doing business in many parts of the world, a cost which is passed on to customers in the prices they pay.

I would add that corruption is not a public sector or private sector problem but is a societal problem where losses are measured not only in monetary value but in terms of violations of human rights, loss of trust and confidence in our institutions. Corruption undermines the constitutional commitment to human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.

When people think about corruption they often relate it to acts of bribery. There are many other forms of corruption as well, such as abuse of office, influence peddling, favouritism, conflict of interests and so on. Bribery, however, is probably the most concrete form.  In addition, tolerating one-off corrupt practices can lead to systemic corruption that has longer-term consequences of institutional and cultural character that are very hard to remedy. It creates an institutional culture of corruption and decreases the trust that citizens have of the public institutions. This kind of systemic corruption can lead to wider undermining of basic human rights, as inequality increases and services are withheld.

Ladies and gentlemen

This model conference is based on the one established by the United Nations for States Parties to the convention where implementation of provisions of the Convention is reviewed and activities facilitated. The Conference of States Parties is an opportunity for states parties to take cognizance of the extent to which each state party’s national anti-corruption system, its laws, regulations, policies, institutions and programmes are complying with the requirements of UNCAC and the new initiatives that are being taken.

It is also an opportunity for states parties to engage in national dialogue on anti-corruption policies and programmes with a view to stimulate reforms to counteract corruption and money laundering worldwide.

This Model States Parties Anti-corruption conference targets Higher School Certificate students of the Republic of Mauritius.  The objectives of the Anti-corruption Conference are to encourage reflection and research, enhance participants’ knowledge and understanding of corruption and related issues; provide opportunities for them to share views and concerns about the national and global anti-corruption strategies as well as sharpen their communication and leadership skills.

Another important objective of this model conference is to provide HSC students with appropriate materials and exposure on corruption and related issues, as you may be aware, following representations made by ICAC, corruption has now become a theme for the University of Cambridge General Paper examinations. In fact the deliberations of the conference as well as the best presentations will be compiled into a CD and distributed to all secondary schools in the Republic of Mauritius.

Ladies and gentlemen

The ICAC has targeted high school students for the 3-day conference because we believe that our youngsters – the would-be professionals and leaders of tomorrow- have a crucial role to play in the fight against corruption. In 2014, the ICAC commissioned a national survey on corruption in both Mauritius and Rodrigues. One of the findings of the survey was that ‘the majority of people perceive the younger generation as not so committed or even not committed at all in the fight against corruption”.  The report also draws attention on the cynical attitude of the youth towards corruption and reveal that the majority of people perceive the younger generation as not so committed or even not committed at all in the fight against corruption.

There was a need to give a boost to youth commitment and engagement in the fight against corruption. For the future of a country is in the hands of the younger generation and securing their involvement and engagement today will pave the way for a better tomorrow, where fairness, honesty, equality of opportunity and meritocracy could be the norms. So something has to be done to reverse the trend and nurture a corrupt-free generation.

Since 2003, the ICAC has been adopting a three-pronged strategy based on investigation, prevention and education. True, it is important to track and punish the corrupt and the corruptors but it is equally important to educate, to sensitise and empower particularly the young generation. It is in this vein that the ICAC has taken a host of anti-corruption initiatives targeting the school population from pre-primary to primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

In February 2016, the ICAC launched an interactive value-based CD for pupils of primary schools -an in-house production that required over 800 hours of work. Through this CD, we are trying to transmit anti-corruption values to the young generation. Research has shown that values such as honesty, integrity and responsibility need to be promoted at an early age to be internalised and effective. Two weeks ago, an anti-corruption short film competition targeting mainly the youth on the theme “Fighting corruption is everybody’s social responsibility” was launched and to date has registered some 140 participants  (well beyond our expectations).

Delegates present today are aware of ‘Integrity clubs’ which have been set in more than 100 secondary schools throughout the island to help in the promotion of an anti-corruption culture among peers in schools. In the same vein, anti-corruption clubs have been set up in tertiary education institutions.

Last year the ICAC set up a Youth Against Corruption (YAC) platform grouping members of Integrity Clubs of secondary and tertiary institutions as well as young professionals. The YAC has become a vibrant platform for the Mauritian youth to demonstrate their concern and involvement in the fight against corruption. Moreover, it is fitting to point out that in the context of the new educational reform underway in Mauritius (the nine-year schooling), the ICAC has made concrete proposals to the Curriculum Development Panel through the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research for anti-corruption elements to be included in the formal secondary school curriculum at grade 6, 7 and 8 (that is Form I, II and III). The proposal has obtained the approval and full support of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research to whom we are thankful.
And today, ladies and gentlemen, some 80 secondary schools and over 250 participants have been mobilized in the context of this Model States Parties Anti-corruption Conference. Our aim is not only to sensitise but to trigger youth involvement and engagement in the national fight against corruption and the promotion of an integrity culture among the young generation. If we want to foster a corrupt-free nation in the future we must lay the seeds now.

Ladies and gentlemen

This Model States Parties Anti-corruption conference is not only a first- of- its kind being organised by the ICAC for high school students (mobilising representatives of over 80 secondary schools over a 3-day period) but also it’s the first time that the best teams from the island of Rodrigues have been invited to participate in the final along with their Mauritian counterparts. We have no choice than to bank on our young generation and adopt an inclusive approach if we envision a corrupt-free Republic of Mauritius.

Parallel to the main conference, we are holding a number of side events here, at BPML Conference Centre, which will be conducted by renowned personalities and resource persons namely:
1.    Experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime;
2.    Professor Thomas H. Speedy Rice from Washington and Lee University;
3.    Professor Jamil D. Mujuzi from University of the Western Cape;
4.    Mr Rajen Bablee, Executive Director of Transparency Mauritius; and
5.    Mr R. Moosoohur, from Interpol, Mauritius

Moreover, on top of the side-events listed above, a lecture cum video conference will be conducted by Professor Thomas H. Speedy Rice from Washington and Lee University on the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on Thursday 17 March at 16 00 hrs at ICAC headquarters. Professor Rice will be conferencing live with his students from the United States and Ukraine. This will be a golden opportunity for the sharing of knowledge and experiences in the global fight against corruption.

Ladies and gentlemen

You will surely appreciate that we have spared no efforts to provide an ideal platform where information, expert knowledge and views can be exchanged on the issue of corruption. We are confident that all of you will make good use of this unique opportunity, reflect seriously on the damaging and corrosive effects of corruption and take concrete actions to fight this scourge and foster an integrity culture.
Dear delegates, ladies and gentlemen

During the 3-day conference 90 delegates, including four representatives from Rodrigues, will be called upon to make presentations on the country allotted following the drawing of lots. Attractive prizes are also awaiting the three best delegations and the best speaker. Let me avail myself of this opportunity to wish you all best of luck and I sincerely hope that each one of you present here will leave this conference hall more enriched and with a stronger determination to combat the cancer of corruption.

Before I end, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to delegates from the UNODC, our local and external resource persons, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, all participants, school facilitators and members of the Jury panel. Last but not the least, a special word of thanks to our chief guest.

Ladies and gentlemen

Corruption is a dynamic and a global phenomenon and an effective fight requires not only novel strategies and appropriate human and material resources but also national and international cooperation. Together we can weed out the cancer of corruption.

I wish you all fruitful deliberations and success.

Thank you for your kind attention