Cablegate: Conference On Iraq's Anti-Corruption Strategy

DE RUEHGB #2576/01 2691102
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E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Leaders of Iraq's main anti-corruption
institutions held a conference with UNDP project managers and
officials of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Amman
September 7-10 to put finishing touches on Iraq's national strategy
for compliance with the UN Convention against Corruption. The GOI
expects to unveil the strategy in late October, and it will provide
donors a good framework for aid programs in anti-corruption and
other areas. ACCO is convening a NGO forum September 28 to promote
NGO involvement in anti-corruption efforts, consistent with precepts
of Iraq's new strategy. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Following up on meetings last April with UNODC and UNDP
officials, Iraqi anti-corruption officials and NGO's met in Amman
September 7-10 to refine Iraq's emerging anti-corruption strategy
(Ref A). Representatives from Iraq's Board of Supreme Audit (BSA),
the Commission on Integrity (COI), Inspectors General from key
ministries, the Central Bank, the Council of Representatives and
elements of civil society attended the workshop. Ali al-Alaq, the
Secretary General of Iraq's Council of Ministers who chairs the
Joint Anti Corruption Committee for the Prime Minister also
attended, along with Embassy Anti-Corruption Coordinator and staff

3. (SBU) The Iraqis convened six working groups to flesh out ideas
on: improving protection for witnesses and whistleblowers; crafting
codes of conduct (including creating conflict of interest guidelines
for public officials); improving Iraq's civil code and rules on
political party finances; and clarifying terms of political
appointments in public service. UN officials provided feedback and
finalized with Iraqi principals a new draft strategy, mechanisms for
implementation, and roll-out plans for Iraq's governorates. The
committees also recommended that Iraq improve transparency of
political party and campaign financing and create firewalls between
government institutions and political party operations.

Key Challenges

4. (SBU) The draft strategy focuses extensively on improving
cooperation among ministries, improving the legal framework and
regulations governing Iraq's public workforce, and increasing
citizen awareness of government actions, including budgeting. It
prescribes 18 areas for corrective action designed to secure Iraq's
compliance with UNCAC. These include promoting a market economy;
implementing civil service reform; improving media coverage of
judicial process in corruption cases; executing reforms to the
judicial and financial systems, including enhanced budget
transparency; more transparent public procurement; and new education
and media initiatives.

Keeping the Public on Board

5. (SBU) Participants noted the challenges of focusing public
attention on the new strategy, once unveiled. UNDP Director in
Amman Paolo Lembo stressed the importance of public awareness
campaigns to gain buy-in from Iraqis, a theme echoed by Iraqi NGOs
that attended.

6. (SBU) Commission on Integrity head Judge Raheem al-Ugaily told
Iraqi media at the conference that anti-corruption is a "new
concept" that needs constant outreach to both government and
society. He said international assistance was critical and stressed
the need to secure passage of key legislation (e.g., the proposed
comprehensive anti-corruption law) for thorough implementation of
the strategy.)

7. (SBU) In his statement at the conference, COM SecGen Alaq
expressed satisfaction with the discussion, saying they had advanced
anti-corruption efforts and promoted strengthening of Iraq's
Qanti-corruption efforts and promoted strengthening of Iraq's
institutional capacity. Alaq thanked the UN and US for their
support, and agreed with Ugaily that international inputs were
critical to success of the effort. While Iraqi leaders had
developed a "strategic framework" he noted, "we still need the
support of the organizations that have the expertise in this area to
help guide outcomes."

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The conference brings to fruition a months-long
effort by the GOI to devise a strategy that, if implemented
effectively, will result in substantial progress toward Iraq's
long-term goal of fashioning a strong anti-corruption regime. The
draft strategy, while still subject to some alterations in the next
month, offers a fairly honest assessment of key challenges and will
help both the GOI and donors better consolidate efforts. The
conference was noteworthy for the presence of NGOs as well as the
three independent anti-corruption agencies, parliament and the
council of ministers. ACCO is convening a forum September 28 to
promote NGOs' involvement in anti-corruption efforts consistent with
the new strategy and UNCAC provisions.

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