GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- At least two Caribbean prime ministers are scheduled to attend the University College of the Cayman Islands’ Caribbean ethics and values conference in March. The head of the organisation that rates governments worldwide on anti-corruption will open the fourth such conference organised by the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI), this time on the theme of ethics, values, trust, and morality.
Heads of government expected to attend are Perry Christie, prime minister of The Bahamas, who will speak on the ethical and anti-corruption framework of The Bahamas; and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who will reflect on the state of corruption in the Caribbean as a whole.
Dr Huguette Labelle, the chair of the board of Transparency International, an organisation that works in more than 100 countries in the fight against corruption, will speak at the opening ceremony. Each year, Transparency International scores countries worldwide on a corruptions perceptions index regarding how corrupt their public sectors are seen to be.
In addition to the corruptions perceptions index, the organisation’s surveys include the “global corruption barometer,” the only worldwide public survey on views and experiences on corruption, and a “bribe players barometer,” rating the wealthiest nations by their firms’ propensity to bribe abroad.
Other speakers will include international and regional academicians, ministers of government, and directors of anti-corruption agencies. Also sharing their views will be regional and regional business, church and community leaders with an interest in furthering the cause of building corruption-free societies.
Speaking about the importance of raising awareness and educating all sectors of society, Labelle said: "The fight against corruption cannot succeed unless ethical values are strongly embedded in society's institutions.”
The chair of Transparency International said that a key challenge was “to make sure that values such as integrity and ethical behaviour characterise the daily work of leaders and institutions that serve the people."
The president of UCCI, Roy Bodden, expressed his delight that someone of the calibre and international standing as Labelle will be opening the March conference.
“This is possibly the first time that we will have such an array of eminent speakers, and I urge everyone in the Cayman Islands and the region as a whole to take advantage of this opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges our societies face with regard to corruption, unethical behaviour, and malfeasance,” he said.
Adding his endorsement, Dr Livingston Smith, chair of the conference organising committee, spoke to the leadership of Transparency International in the global fight against corruption. “Transparency International is easily the most powerful organization focusing exclusively on corruption. Its mission is to ‘create change towards a world free of corruption' and it seeks to do this by bringing people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world.”
Smith said that he was confident that the March 2014 conference to be opened by Labelle would do much towards advancing this objective in Caribbean societies.
Conference keynote speaker Labelle is also a member of various other boards and bodies, including the board of the UN Global Compact, the Group of External Advisors on the World Bank Governance and Anti-corruption Strategy, the Advisory Group to the Asian Development Bank on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, the Executive Board of the Africa Capacity Building Foundation, the Global Centre for Pluralism, and the Advisory Council of the Order of Ontario. She is also Vice Chair of the Senior Advisory Board of the International Anti-Corruption Academy and provides advisory services to various national and international organizations.
Labelle served for 19 years as deputy minister of different Canadian government departments and is a former chancellor of the University of Ottawa.