In May of last year, 43 governments and six international organisations met in London for the Anti-Corruption Summit, issuing a bold Global Declaration Against Corruption and making 648 commitments. These ranged from introducing strong anti-corruption legislations to returning stolen assets and outlawing secret companies. However, within the past year a number of participating governments, from the US to the UK to Ghana, have changed – and with them their resolve to follow through on their anti-corruption efforts.
To keep up the pressure and make sure that these promises are kept, Transparency International looked at a sample of 453 commitments from the 648 to find out what progress has been made - today Transparency International UK has launched a new report and a global pledge tracker with the results.
Transparency International chapters and partners in 27 countries have been monitoring a selection of government anti-corruption promises, based on publicly accessible information (available through media articles, government statements, blogs, websites etc.). Our colleagues in the UK, Afghanistan, Ghana and Kenya have each published online pledge trackers to make sure the commitments aren’t lost or forgotten.
The system is easy to follow. You can click on a country and see if the pledges they made are complete, ongoing (no fixed end date), underway, overdue or inactive.
The good news is that at least two-thirds of all the promises are being worked on. But there's still some way to go.
Through the analysis we’ve learned three things:
1) Governments were most likely to have acted on ambitious commitments
One in five commitments that TI chapters classed as “ambitious” after the Summit have already been completed, compared to just one in ten “not ambitious” commitments that supposedly should have been easier to implement. “Somewhat new” and “somewhat ambitious” commitments had the worst completion rate of all – at just 4 per cent.
Countries that displayed genuine political-will issued ambitious commitments and stuck to them. Our message: more countries should be more ambitious going forward.
2) It pays to collaborate
The Anti-Corruption Summit generated a number of new partnerships. Time will tell how effective these will be in tackling corruption but the prospect of collaborating across countries and sectors has exciting potential. Two examples of brand new partnerships include:
- The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC), launched in July 2017, brings together specialist law enforcement officers from multiple agencies around the world to tackle allegations of grand corruption.
- The Global Forum on Asset Recovery brings together countries from which assets have been stolen and countries where the stolen assets have turned up. The first forum meeting will take place in December. The current focus is on how to return stolen assets to Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Nigeria.
Ukraine in the spotlight
We don’t know the full impact of the new initiatives established in the wake of the Anti-Corruption Summit yet but we know it pays to collaborate. ProZorro is a multi-stakeholder initiative between government, business and civil society to digitise public procurement to encourage competition via an e-platform. So far more than 2000 healthcare organisations have saved an average of 15 per cent on all their procurements as a result.
3) Actions speak louder than words
Words at summits can be easily made, but following up on them is much harder, especially when the cameras stop rolling. Some countries are sticking to their words, others need to be more proactive. We hope that by putting a spotlight on the pledges and whether they are being kept will encourage countries to take more action.
Spain and Indonesia were identified by chapters as having the highest completion rate to date. Together, the two countries are responsible for more than half all completed pledges by the 27 monitored countries.
On the flip side, very little action has been taken by three financial powerhouses - the US, Switzerland, and Japan. Two thirds of the commitments made by these three high-income countries remain inactive.
Leaders are emerging on all continents. Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria have taken some steps towards implementation of their pledges to adopt registers that disclose the identity of people who ultimately own and control companies (the beneficial owners). These commitments now need to be included into law through the bills that are going through parliament in each country.
Meanwhile, Mexico is emerging as a global leader within the field of open contracting. The country is making good progress on its six procurement pledges (twice as many as any other country) with 2 complete, 2 ongoing and 2 underway.
How to make summits worthwhile
We have learned that genuine political will is likely to be backed by concrete and ambitious commitments. The Anti-Corruption Summit was different to most summits since countries issued country specific statements. This allowed countries to show leadership and ambition, which is often reined in when summits only adopt consensus-based declarations.
We’ve also learned it pays to take risks sometimes – to collaborate when it might seem hard, to take action beyond issuing commitments and to be ambitious and raise the bar.
The UK government itself took a risk in hosting the Anti-Corruption Summit and was successful in generating political will and action but they shouldn’t walk away with a job half done. The UK pledge tracker shows that it is falling behind or overdue on six of their 15 commitments and leadership on the issue internationally has waned.
All participating countries should still see this as the start of their work on corruption – not the end.
*All percentages are based on tracking 453 pledges
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