Wellington (New Zealand), 29 November 2022 - Pacific Parliamentarians, Ombudsmen and integrity agencies are working together this week at the Parliament of New Zealand to boost oversight of Constituency Development Funds (CDFs), with technical assistance from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC).
The conference, held in the Legislative Council Chamber of the NZ Parliament, will result in a new Pacific-focused toolkit on CDFs to strengthen accountability and transparency, in line with UNODC mandate as the custodian of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and GOPAC’s role in assisting parliamentarians to work together to combat corruption, strengthen good government, and uphold the rule of law.
“CDFs developed as an answer to the challenge of decentralizing development funding, with Papua New Guinea being one of the world’s first CDF adopters in the 1980s. Key standard practices around the world include that the amount of funds allocated through CDFs has generally increased over time, and MPs are part of the allocation decision process, with variations in oversight and the role of the Executive and Parliament,” said UNODC Pacific Anti-Corruption Adviser, Ms. Marie Pegie Cauchois.
GOPAC recognized the potential for perceptions of conflict of interest, as Parliamentarians juggle their role as the democratic and often best-informed representative of their constituency to judge funding priorities, while also having a Parliament oversight role in spending by the Executive and Parliament.
“While the Melanesian and Tongan countries are the major users of CDFs in the Pacific, every country has a different system – GOPAC recognizes there is merit in developing a best-practice Pacific model particularly learning from the reviews and accountability that Solomon Islands and Tonga are introducing,” said Lord Fusitu’a, Chair of GOPAC Oceania, the GOPAC regional grouping of Pacific, Australia and New Zealand parliamentarians.
“GOPAC welcomes the partnership with UNODC to examine CDFs from an evidence-based perspective, with genuine consultation between parliamentarians, Ombudsmen and integrity agencies,” said Lord Fusitu’a.
Ms. Cauchois said that consensus on good practices in CDF dispersal and management would build on Pacific countries commitments under UNCAC and the Teieniwa Vision, the anti-corruption regional roadmap adopted by 18 Pacific Island countries.
UNODC supported the two-day CDF conference and development of the CDF toolkit through the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC), supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme. GOPAC Oceania is assisted financially by the GOPAC Office in Qatar and the Government of Qatar. UNODC also partners with Qatar’s international Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Center (ROLACC) and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar to safeguard sport from corruption and crime.