*The Romanian Academic Society (SAR),* in conjunction with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and National Endowment for Democracy, is seeking one NGO representative from each of the following Balkan countries: Bosnia-Hertzegovina , Macedonia and Croatia to participate in a two-day conference entitled "*CURBING POLITICAL CORRUPTION: Anticorruption as Revolution*, " to be held in *Sinaia**, Romania**, on October 13-15, 2006*(Hotel International) .
The conference will compare lessons from anti-corruption initiatives in Balkan and South/East European countries, and identify best practices and common success indicators from these anticorruption campaigns. The conference will debate the lessons of civil society campaigns against political corruption in the target countries of the Balkans and the Black Sea, identifying possible success indicators of such campaigns and exploring best practices, as well as reasons for failure. Speakers from every country, as well as experts and donors will be invited to join in a discussion meant to clarify what are the real achievements of the last years of the fight against political corruption. Do we know when and why we fail, as well as
when and why we succeed? Can best practices be spread? Are most of the money on anticorruption campaigns spent on the right strategies? The conference also aims at creating a South-East European network of NGOs ready to assume the role of watchdogs against political corruption. Selected organizations will be funded for the initiation of domestic programs in this respect through a National Endowment for Democracy Program managed by SAR.
Sinaia lies in the Southern Carpathians in Romania, one hour and a half from Bucharest airport and it used to be the residence of the Romanian Hohenzollern royal family. Their main palace is a very popular museum. The conference will take place in the newly refurbished International Hotel, which has glorious views over the Carpathians, as well as modern fitness rooms and a pool. Local expenses, including transportation from airport, will be covered by SAR.
SAR has initiated and led such a campaign itself in 2004, which contributed to nearly one hundred MPs of questionable integrity losing elections in Romania. Below, you can find an assessment of this campaign in the last *Anticorruption in Transition* report from the World Bank.
Box 4.4 Evolution of asset monitoring in Romania
Romania's experience with asset monitoring can best be described as evolutionary. A great stride forward came in 2003 when the government adopted a comprehensive package of laws that included provisions for the public declarations of assets and income. The forms themselves were abysmal: They lacked detail and consisted of simple boxes to check indicating whether or not the official has any assets in the category; the thresholds for many categories were very high (a10,000); and many types of assets did not need to be declared. But they did have the single most important feature of asset declarations- they were public information, posted on the web for high-level officials. The other shortcomings have been redressed in a series of amendments to the law, most recently in January 2005, and the declaration form is now among the most detailed and comprehensive in Europe. Despite the lack of a formal institution for auditing the declarations, their public nature has made them
effective. Prior to the elections in 2004, a group of NGOs, think tanks, and journalists formed a Coalition for a Clean Parliament and created lists of candidates
that they viewed as unfit for office. Many criteria were used, including involvement with the Securitate and tax arrears to the budget. Among the key sources
of information used to compile the list were the public declarations of assets and income. The Coalition ultimately had an effect on the elections in the fall of 2004, as many candidates were dropped from party lists and there was ultimately a change in the ruling party. A second stride forward came in early 2005 when the new government, as one of their first major reforms, mandated declarations according to even stricter forms. Now among the toughest in Europe, the new forms call for considerably more detail than the previous version, making it easier for observers
(including the general public) to identify discrepancies. The declarations have taken on even greater significance more recently, with several former high-level officials (including a former prime minister) being accused of corruption because of
information included in their declarations. Many challenges remain. While the public nature of the declarations has helped to bring some accountability through the political system, the lack of a workable formal enforcement mechanism means that official sanctions are weak or nonexistent. Plans are currently underway to strengthen enforcement through the creation of a new governmental body whose purpose is to receive and audit the declarations. *
The NGO representatives from the mentioned Balkan countries will have to write a short report of about 4,000 words or 10 pages about issues of political corruption in their own country, and to prepare a speech for the conference. The conference will convene EU high representatives, international donors and South-Eastern NGOs interested in fighting political corruption.
A fee will be offered for completing the reports on political corruption. All costs will be covered by the Romanian Academic Society.
If you are interested to join, please send a presentation of yourself and your organisation to the following email address: email@example.com. ro
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