PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Integrity Chamber hosted its first Integrity Symposium at the American University of the Caribbean, under the theme: “Building Integrity to Build a Nation”. The symposium highlighted the need for building integrity, the challenges that must be overcome, and the importance of doing so collectively.
The Integrity Symposium opened with an official opening address by the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, the honourable Silveria Jacobs. The opening address highlighted the importance of integrity being a shared value among all aspects of St. Maarten’s society and the role that technology can play in building trust and improving the quality of public services. Jacobs emphasized that “a nation built on integrity is one where corruption finds no fertile ground”.
The opening address was followed by an address by the President of the Integrity Chamber, Mrs. H.W. (Rian) Vogels. Vogels stated that “integrity is the cornerstone of good governance and essential in building public trust, fostering economic growth and promoting social justice.” Six threats to integrity were highlighted: corruption, nepotism, conflicts of interest, lack of transparency, political interference, and inadequate oversight. Key measures to address and prevent these threats were outlined during the presentation.
The keynote speakers, Mr. Dion Abdool of Transparency International, and Professor Trevor Munroe of National Integrity Action, gave informative and inspiring speeches and regional perspectives.
Mr. Abdool outlined critical components of the National Integrity System and provided recent data on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the region as it compares globally. In building a nation, Mr. Abdool emphasized the importance of having trust between society and government and the need to work towards our own “Caribbean Currency” of trust.
Professor Munroe congratulated the Integrity Chamber for convening the symposium and for their multidimensional awareness campaign to promote integrity. “Improved governance requires empowerment of people; the next logical step is action in building integrity”, stated Munroe. Other takeaways from Professor Munroe’s address were that corruption is a global issue that needs to be fought and that there is a lack of awareness of actions that citizens can take to combat integrity issues.
Members of the Integrity Chamber, Mr. Rafael Boasman and Mr. Hans Lodder, joined the two keynote speakers for the panel discussion. Questions from the audience ranged from how artificial intelligence will impact integrity, to the role of financial institutions in promoting integrity for civil society, and best practices for public and private sector.
Closing remarks were given by the director of the Integrity Chamber, Ms. Charna Pompier, who thanked those involved in ensuring the first Integrity Symposium was a success.
The Integrity Symposium can be viewed online via https://www.integritychamber.sx/symposium or via the Facebook or YouTube page of the Integrity Chamber.