Lawyers Council Focuses on Anti-Corruption Efforts During the Covid-19 Pandemic

April 2020

The Vance Center’s Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights is analyzing how the official response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Latin America is creating corruption risks.  Governments throughout the region have sought exceptional or emergency powers to expedite administrative decision-making, including to provide health services, economic relief, and other critical needs. These emergency powers often bypass procurement rules and other standard processes to make exceptional use of public resources.

Civil society organizations in the region have expressed concern about the corruption risks, as the government’s extraordinary powers threaten misuse of funds and setbacks in the fight against corruption.  Strengthening or putting in place anti-corruption measures is crucial, to ensure that the government response is effective, but also protective of the civil and economic rights of those who are most at risk. While corruption risks always exist, the costs of these risks are higher during the emergency, due to the unprecedented economic effects: the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit.

The Lawyers Council will produce a report with information from several countries in the region about the use of exceptional legal measures for administrative decision-making, the conduct of procurement processes under such exceptions, and any government actions to minimize corruption risks, including respecting and enhancing transparency obligations. The report will include information about initiatives developed by civil society organizations or other sectors of society to monitor government actions related to the pandemic,  as well as public information about investigations of corruption in government actions related to the pandemic.  The report will include recommendations based on international standards and relevant experience of the analyzed countries that can help governments ensure a response free from corruption and effective to fight the pandemic.

The Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights convenes private-practice attorneys across the Americas to support the critical work of civil society and to combat corruption throughout the region. The Council consists of eighteen lawyers from the United States and thirteen Latin American countries with experience as leaders of bar associations, board members of non-governmental organizations, and as pro bono practitioners, who design and implement multilateral, region-wide initiatives to address challenges to civil and economic rights in Latin America.