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El Salvador and Mexico: South-South solidarity to assess and combat corruption

El Salvador
Posted date: 
Thu, 05/03/2012
Source of the information: 

For the first time in the history of El Salvador, the government embarks on a high-level project to systematically measure corruption and transparency, through a country-specific indicators framework. With UNDP support[1], the Sub-Secretary of the President on Transparency and Anti-Corruption (SSTA) is championing an unprecedented process to design a comprehensive anti-corruption indicators system in collaboration and agreement with a broad range of public and private national actors, including several NGOs and think tanks from different sides of the political spectrum.

In this effort, the SSTA as well as the CSOs involved in transparency & anti-corruption advocacy face a series of challenges. Some of these are technical, as it is the first time an initiative intends to go beyond the usual global indicators to create nationally-owned ones, and the country lacks the technical capacity to achieve this goal with the required quality. Some are strategic and political, as it is not proving easy to get all relevant actors around the table and build trust between them around a government-led transparency and anti-corruption measurement initiative.

UNDP support was called for to help resolve both types of challenges: at the technical level, GAP experience and expertise on country-led governance assessments would help the Salvadorians design their own corruption measurement mechanism. At the strategic level, UNDP is seen as a neutral actor trusted from all sides, and thus in the best position to facilitate an authentic multi-stakeholder dialogue leading to a substantive compromise on the indicators. A GAP mission went to El Salvador in February 2012 to provide part of this assistance, through participatory training and consultative workshops, and meetings with multiple partners from different State institutions, civil society, and members of the donor community such as USAID who assist the government in the conception of its national anti-corruption policy.  

But rather than typical, one-way North-South assistance, GAP acknowledged that most effective support to a new national assessment process like this one would come from another country of the same region with appropriate experience and competence. It thus invited the Director of Transparencia Mexicana (the Mexican Chapter of Transparency International), Eduardo Bohórquez, to share his knowledge and the Mexican experience on anti-corruption indicators, and provide guidance to the nascent Salvadorian process. The workshop held in San Salvador on 13 February 2012 was a great success, with a turnout almost 3 times higher than expected (15 expected – over 40 came), enthusiastic reactions to the Mexican contribution and rich discussions with immediate implications for the corruption assessment process in El Salvador.

Mr Bohórquez provided high quality, strategically relevant information on global, regional and national corruption indicators, sharp insights into the Mexican experience of developing a National Corruption and Good Governance Index, and valuable advice adapted to the needs of El Salvador. The participants from government, judiciary, parliament, university and civil society organizations of various political colours decided to make the most of this occasion. They called for continued support from Transparencia Mexicana, discussed the applicability of the Mexican example and advice in their country, and by the end of the workshop came up with concrete recommendations and proposed to follow-up with the constitution of a Salvadorian network for measuring corruption and transparency nationally.  

If proof was still needed that South-South support is the most useful way to promote and assist country-led assessment processes, this Mexico-El Salvador exchange provides it.

That said, this is only the beginning of the process in El Salvador, and it will still take continued support from Mexico, UNDP and others, persistent efforts from the Sub-Secretary and unfailing willingness and hard work from all stakeholders committed in this process to obtain a truly useful, broadly-agreed national measurement mechanism that will help identify problems and set targets to tackle corruption and transparency issues in the country.


[1] This initiative is supported jointly by 2 UNDP Global Programmes: the Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments (GAP) and the Global Programme on Anti-Corruption for Development Effectiveness (PACDE), through UNDP-El Salvador.


[1] This initiative is supported jointly by 2 UNDP Global Programmes: the Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments (GAP) and the Global Programme on Anti-Corruption for Development Effectiveness (PACDE), through UNDP-El Salvador.