Greetings from Berne!
We are one of the host cities of Euro 08, the European Football Tournament that will begin tomorrow June 7. A lot of facelifting and refurbishing has been going on in the city throughout the last year. Just in time for the big event the works have now been completed. A new landmark has been added to the inner city. The square at the main railway station is now covered by a huge glass roof in the shape of a wave. It's called "The Baldachin". The project had raised some controversies. It had to be adjusted several times in a lengthy, cumbersome process. But now that it is finished the new architecture receives praise from all sides, even from former critics. Some have referred to it as "a symbol of transparency".
The Baldachin is not my only reason why I want to write about transparency today. The major reason is Transparency International and the fact that I attended the annual general meeting of its Swiss branch this week. I had become a member of this international NGO last year on my return from a short mission to Africa where I had stepped in as interim coordinator of a Swiss development NGO. My task was to accompany a local audit bureau in a case of misappropriation of funds. The auditors did an admirable job in building accountability all along the aid pipeline from the international corridors out to the rural villages and to the nomadic people. I became a witness of both the devastating effects of lost credibility as well as of the truly empowering impact of a new partnership founded on the principle of mutual accountability. So I decided to take the theme "transparency" higher up on my list of concerns.
And then, back home, I received the sad news of the passing away of my first teacher in development cooperation, Henri-Philippe Cart. I new that Henri-Philippe had been a strong supporter of Transparency International. So could there be a better way of commemorating my teacher than by joing his organization, adding my support? I took a quick, spontaneous decision. And I don't regret it. The meeting this week confirmed my impression that Transparency is doing an excellent job. If you would like to read more about their activities, her is the link:
Last but not least:
as mediators, we also must build on transparency. Without it there can be no lasting trust. And thus no win-win.