Regional Forum: Partnerships to Strengthen Democratic Governance, Public Integrity and Leadership in Latin America

Mar 10, 2014

Photo: From left to right, Nicolás Ardito Barletta, Panama; Carlos Mesa, Plurinational State of Bolivia; Ernesto Samper, Colombia; and Vinicio Cerezo, Guatemala. Photo Credit: Marta Ortega/ UNDP RSCLAC

Four former presidents of the region meet in Panama to discuss Public Integrity

Panama City , March 10, 2014  - Public integrity and transparency are one of the biggest challenges for democracy in Latin America. This regional forum tooked place in Panama City and brought together four ex – presidents: Carlos Mesa, Plurinational State of Bolivia; Nicolás Ardito Barletta, Panama; Vinicio Cerezo, Guatemala; and Ernesto Samper, Colombia; who discussed different aspects of governance, training and leadership for effective governance when addressing these challenges. The Regional Forum Partnerships to Strengthen Democratic Governance, Public Integrity and Leadership in Latin America, was summoned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Center for Development and Democracy (CGDD) and the Ford Foundation, and was organized with the support of the City of Knowledge.

The welcome speech was held by Freddy Justiniano, Director of the Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean of the UNDP, and Jorge Arosemena, Executive Director of the City of Knowledge. The inaugural session was chaired by Gerardo Berthin, Regional Policy Advisor UNDP Governance and Decentralization.

The four former officers shared different thoughts, many of them based on their own experiences of government. "You cannot talk about integrity and good governance only in the hands of the rulers, but should also put responsibility within a well-built democratic society," said Carlos Mesa, former President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

Nicolás Ardito Barletta, former president of Panama said that "we must raise the cost of corruption", adding that to achieve an optimal public integrity, audit and accountability processes should be more serious. "You have to show the citizens that they can request information, have a comptroller who is not subject to executive and demonstrates how public money is spent, because it helps to ensure greater transparency."

Also, the former president of Guatemala, Vinicio Cerezo, stressed that "all ethnic and social groups should be represented in the government of a country: indigenous communities, women, youth, etc. because it contributes to society feel part of the political process."

Besides, Ernesto Samper, former president of Colombia, talked about the importance of the media in the political processes. "There is currently a greater commitment from the media for reporting corruptive offenses and that helps to create transparency." Also said that is necessary not only to focus on the public figure and the training and education of political leaders through good practice policies, but also to "involve those citizens who pay high amounts to agents to such win bids because that also strengthens corruption in politics."

The former Presidents Forum is an initiative of CGDD, which performs regularly at various towns of the region, and brings together more than twenty countries in Latin America. This initiative has become a means to discuss and share experiences and lessons learned, serving as inputs for understanding the dynamics and dilemmas of policy decisions, and also allowed to consider and propose reforms to enhance democratic practices in the region.

This forum in Panama is in turn part of an initiative that includes an online course designed and implemented by UNDP, Ford Foundation and CGDD to promote the strengthening and training of public officials in Latin America, and thanks to which, during 2013, about 200 public officials from 15 countries representing 50 public entities benefited from this course.

The dialogue on issues of democratic governance, public integrity, and leadership training for public management and prospective scenarios in Latin America served as a teaching input for the supply of training scheduled for 2014, and to enrich the dialogue on issues of significant relevance and interest to the public, and for future training efforts of government officials in Latin America. At the same time, this forum will help to further strengthen and expand partnerships between a variety of international organizations, foundations and government entities in favor of more democratic societies.

The session was closed by Ana Maria Romero- Lozada who offered some words of thanks and invited to further dialogue on the challenges of public policy and management as a way to reach real democracy and quality and to achieve better public integrity.

The forum was broadcast online through

Contact information

Marta Ortega Baldonedo //

UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

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