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UNODC, ARAC and the Chamber of Commerce collaborate in the realization of a Breakfast Meeting which facilitated discussions on the role of the Private Sector in Combating and Preventing Corruption.

    On Friday 16 August 2013, the UNODC Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean (ROPAN), the  Regional Anti-Corruption Academy for Central America and the Caribbean (ARAC) , and the  Panamanian Chamber of Commerce , hosted a Breakfast Meeting with the objective of facilitating anti-corruption discussions with the Private Sector. The Meeting was one of various initiatives aimed at building cooperation with the Private Sector in Panama, in an effort to underline the key role that this sector plays in preventing and combating corruption. It is also important to highlight that this Meeting also takes place amidst the ongoing preparations for the  V Conference of the States Parties (CoSP)  to the  United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) , which will be held in Panama City, Panama, from 25 to 29 November 2013. 

Emphasizing the importance of the Private Sector in combating and preventing corruption, the UNCAC, the sole international, legally-binding and universal anti-corruption instrument, dedicates an entire chapter to the role of this sector, highlighting key measures and safeguards that can be implemented to strengthen the capacity of the Private Sector in regard to both the prevention and the reduction of corruption.

Mr. Dimitri Vlassis, Chief of the Economic Crime Branch at UNODC Headquarters in Vienna, was the keynote speaker during the meeting and, in his address to those present, he highlighted some of the efforts taken by the Panamanian Government to strengthen anti-corruption measures in the country. These efforts include, but are not limited to: the recent creation of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information, which, in comparison to its predecessor, enjoys increased independence and autonomy; the implementation of new anti-corruption legislation; and the undertaking of the V Conference of the States Parties which is expected to attract over 2000 high-level participants from around the world.

In highlighting the role of the Private Sector in strengthening the anti-corruption regime, Mr. Vlassis reminded the guests that, as countries continue to implement anti-corruption measures in compliance with the UNCAC, the Private Sector increasingly faces the results of this implementation. He acknowledged that the Private Sector in various countries and regions around the globe has indeed begun to grasp the importance of repositioning itself to tackle internal corruption, but he noted that the rhetoric surrounding such repositioning was often negative. It was in this context that Mr. Vlassis urged the proactive engagement with the Private Sector to further develop an enabling environment for businesses,so as to strengthen the dialogue between the public and private sectors and promote the creation of legal incentives that recognize and reward proactive anti-corruption efforts in the Private Sector.

In closing, Mr. Vlassis emphasized UNODC's eagerness to continue collaboration with the Private Sector in Panama, and specifically recognized the importance of cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce to generate concrete anti-corruption initiatives tailored to Panama's booming Private Sector.

In support of increased collaboration between the Public and Private Sector in Panama, the Secretary General of the International Association for Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA), Mr. Ye Feng; and the Director General of Panama's newly created National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI), Mrs. Abigail Benzadón, also participated in the event, joining the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. José Luis Ford; the UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, Mr. Amado de Andrés; the Academic Coordinator of ARAC, Ms. Melissa Flynn; and various representatives of Panama´s Private Sector.