Transparency International New Zealand

Please present yourself:

My name is Julie Haggie, I am the Chief Executive Officer and have worked for Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) since October 2018. I am an organizational leader and advocate, but my knowledge is quite general. Our organization’s governance and outcomes are strengthened through the contribution of topic experts.

What are your organization’s main goals?

The three main strategic goals, within which our programs and actions sit are:

Stronger Integrity Systems – monitoring, assessing and pursuing accountability and transparency;

Authoritative Voice – the voice and action of CSO’s in preventing corruption and raising awareness and expanding civic participation;

Setting Our Place – the actions under this goal will help us to be true to the Treaty of Waitangi, which is a foundation document of New Zealand, and to our contribution to accountability, integrity and transparency across the South Pacific.

How does your organization operate?

We are a national chapter of a global movement. We are a membership civil society organization that is heavily reliant on governance and expertise provided by engaged volunteers.  We work closely with many other organizations (government, academic, civil society and private) to achieve our objectives.  We mainly focus on systems and policy, but also run public awareness-raising sessions.

What are the biggest successes your organization has accomplished in the field of anti-corruption in the past years?

  1. We have run public sector leaders integrity forums in partnership with the Auditor General. These are peer to peer forums that enable leaders to discuss integrity issues.  The feedback is that these are very effective forums, with leaders taking back ideas and discussions to their agencies.
  2. Many of the recommendations made in our National Integrity System Assessment (2013 and 2018 update) have been implemented.  We have strongly advocated for the recommendations, as well as monitoring and reporting on progress against them.
  3. Three of our recommendations for increasing political integrity were: a parliamentary code of conduct, the opening of Ministerial and parliamentary diaries to public scrutiny, and greater transparency and parliamentary oversight of secondary legislation. Each of these has seen some level of implementation over the last 18 months.
  4. We worked alongside another CSO (Mesh Down Under) to successfully advocate for New Zealand to sign up to the World Health Organization’s joint statement on public disclosure on results of clinical trials.  New Zealand has now signed the statement as a result of our joint advocacy. This is a good step towards improving accurate and timely public access to clinical trial information. Unpublished or ‘invisible’ trials can result in harmful drugs and devices being released onto the market, as seen in the case of surgical mesh.
  5. We advocated for the inclusion of anti-corruption clauses in trade deals. The recent China-New Zealand trade deal refresh includes an anti-corruption requirement.  We believe we did have influence on this through our recommendations in submissions.

A Pacific engagement workshop, held in 2017

What are the key challenges specific to your local context that your organization has been facing?

One challenge is the pressure on demand/need for our work compared to the resources we have (financial and human). Our funding is light (New Zealand being an aid giver, not receiver), and so we have to strike the right balance between being lithe and responsive, whilst also relevant, researched and realistic.

Another challenge is the complacency of the general population as well as businesses and NGOs, about the risks of corruption and the impact that it has. This makes us vulnerable to transnational crime activity, such as scamming and money laundering, and to local risks such as non-transparent misuse of public funds, Ponzi schemes, sporting corruption, modern day slavery, fraud and cybercrime.

What can other organizations learn from you?

  • We think we have much more to learn from people working in countries where they face more complex challenges and weaker institutions of integrity.
  • We take a positive approach – always promoting integrity and transparency as antidotes to corruption, and recognizing good practice in government and business
  • We are strictly nonpartisan – this is reflected in governance, in our partnerships and in our activities.
  • We have a structure of volunteer experts (called Members with Delegated Authority) which brings breadth and depth to a small NGO.
  • We actively pursue opportunities to work with other organizations and people and to mutually support each others’ work. Working with others is the best way to achieve our goals.

To what extent has your organization been involved in the UNCAC Review Mechanism?

In 2020, The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) invited TINZ to review and comment on the government’s draft self-assessment for the UNCAC review. We invested substantial effort into this and many of our comments were reflected in the self-assessment.  This did not come about accidentally – we have met with MoJ officials for years, and liaised with them on other instruments such as the Convention against Foreign Bribery, and the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit. This has built mutual trust and respect.

We have also used the opportunity of UNCAC engagement to lobby for greater transparency by Government on reporting and monitoring against international commitments.

What motivates or inspires you to work in anti-corruption?

I enjoy the challenge of holding power to account for the common good. Our organization has a good store of mana built on the work of many people over 20+ years.  This results in our views being listened to and our recommendations being followed.  I love working for an effective organization.

What is an anti-corruption achievement you are proud of?

I was very proud of our efforts on the UNCAC self-assessment. The responses we gave were drawn from the hard work of volunteer experts over many years. I feel great pride in being able to represent their work.

What have you learned from your organization’s work in anti-corruption that could be useful to others?

Persuasion for change requires evidence and trust. Throwing rocks is an option that should be used sparingly.

Why is it important for you and your organization to be a member of the UNCAC Coalition?

There is great opportunity for increased engagement of civil society in the UNCAC process, and for recognition by UNCAC parties, of the vital but different role played by civil society organizations. Realizing CSO impact is a key to all future work of the UNCAC.

Is there anything you would like to share that has not yet been mentioned?

We are about to embark on an exciting research project looking at the nexus between corruption and money laundering in the Pacific.  It will run throughout this year, with the results available in December 2021.