Forty (40) student leaders from selected Secondary Schools across the Central Division participated in the annual Young Leaders’ Seminar this morning, with the theme for this year being, Leading with Integrity.
The annual Young Leaders’ Seminar is co-hosted with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office under the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project and aims to equip the young leaders with an educational experience and empowerment that will assist them in gaining life skills through the informative activities that will help promote the principles of transparency, accountability and integrity.
Speaking at the opening of the seminar this morning Commissioner Mr Rashmi Aslam stated that the objective of the seminar is to empower the future generation to build their personality with one of the most important values of humanity, that being, integrity.
“When it comes to leadership, as Dwight Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office,” added Commissioner Aslam.
Being the law enforcement agency responsible for fighting corruption, Commissioner Aslam further stated that the common factor that the Commission finds within the perpetrators is that they had no integrity.
“What’s worrying is that there is a tendency that some of the young civil servants were engaging in devious acts. In the recent past, the Commission has witnessed some of the biggest personalities in our society collapse due to the lack of integrity, bringing shame to themselves, their families and the people who follow them,” added Commissioner Aslam.
Commissioner Aslam stressed that it is also the responsibility of FICAC to protect the future of the country, that when the future generation take up important roles in society, the nation has a generation of leaders who are ready to lead with integrity.
“Young leaders, you are the invaluable asset of this country and we hope that you all will grow up as a generation that values the principles of honesty and integrity,” said Commissioner Aslam.
During her keynote address, Chief Guest and UNDP Team Leader Effective Governance Ms Revai Makanje Aalbaek said that corruption is not just a criminal offence, prohibited and punished by the law but it is also a moral offence, a crime against society.
“Corruption damages everyone. In the smallest and most remote community, just as in the largest and most powerful nation, corruption is theft from everyone, and everyone is left worse off,” said Ms Aalbaek.
Ms. Aalbaek added that at UNDP, the organisation is also concerned about building integrity, fighting corruption and partnering with UN member states across the world to fight this scourge.
Ms. Aalbaek further added that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals were established by the UN General Assembly in 2015 to present a blueprint in achieving a better and more sustainable future for everyone worldwide by 2030.
“A recent authoritative report concludes that while there has been some success, in general, progress is insufficient, the rate of progress is actually slowing, and that the expected year of achieving the SDGs in the Asia Pacific region is now 2065, not 2030 as originally envisaged,” said Ms Aalbaek.
Ms Aalbaek stated that the seminar today is important not only for the young leaders individually, but for the community, the nation and the world as a whole.
"If we can win the fight against corruption, it will be that much easier to achieve the vision of the 2030 Agenda closer to schedule, and assure a better and more sustainable future for everyone, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable,” added Ms Aalbaek.
Concluding her remarks, Ms Aalbaek urged the student leaders to use the necessary tools, innovations and digital technologies at their disposal in disrupting the trends which are taking away from current and future development.
Giving the overview of the seminar this morning, Manager Corruption Prevention Mrs. Kolora Celua stated that the first ever Young Leaders’ Seminar, with the them of “Ethical Leadership” was held on 4 April 2017, which commemorated with the 10th year anniversary of the Commission.
“The seminar this morning aims to equip the young leaders with an educational experience and empowerment for building positive changes in the young minds, attitudes and behaviour, that will help nurture and effectively promote a culture of integrity and build a generation that stands for resilience to corruption,” said Mrs. Celua.
The outcome of the seminar is for the young leaders to develop and compile a Young Leaders Code of Conduct to be used as a guide and assist Secondary Schools across the nation.
“From the anti-corruption perspective, the Commission together with its strategic partners, strongly believe that youth empowerment is a key tool to prevent and fight corruption nationally, regionally and globally,” added Mrs. Celua.
The student leaders will hear from the following expert facilitators throughout the seminar today:
Mr. Gerardo Berthin – a political scientist specializing in applied democratic governance policy in areas such as human rights, anti-corruption, accountability, and civic engagement. Mr Berthin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs, two Master’s Degree: one in Political Science and the other in Latin American Studies. He also holds a Certificate in Leaders in Development and a Trainers’ Certificate from the United Nations Staff College in Turin, Italy.
Dr. Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska is a governance and anti-corruption practitioner with over 20 years of experience in the UN system. She is currently an Anti-Corruption Adviser with UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, managing regional anti-corruption programmes implemented in 14 Pacific Islands Countries. Dr. Stefanovska-Trajanoska holds a PhD in political science, an MA in linguistics, and a specialist postgraduate degree in peace and development.