Forty three countries from all global regions came to London in May for the Anti-Corruption Summit, a Summit intending to "put fighting corruption at the heart of our international institutions". They signed the Global Declaration against Corruption and made 600 country-specific Summit commitments.
We assessed whether these commitments are
- concrete - actionable and measurable,
- new - generated by the Summit and
- ambitious - strong steps in the context of the country they are coming from
Overall Transparency International judged the Summit a success in promoting new and ambitious anti-corruption pledges on a comprehensive set of key issues in a wide range of countries. But the real verdict will only come when governments follow through and adopt the reforms that prevent corruption and prosecute corruption when it happens.
Transparency International found that:
- More than half of all Summit commitments - 56 per cent - are concrete.
- About a third – 33 per cent – are new, that is, generated by the Summit
- About a third – 30 per cent – are ambitious.
Transparency International called for the Summit to deliver concrete, ambitious and measureable pledges on preventing corruption, punishing the corrupt and ending impunity and protecting and empowering citizens who report corruption. Here are some of the key findings:
- Beneficial ownership information generated the largest number of commitments from Summit participants. Thirty-six countries made a total of 110 commitments.
- Transparency International also called for governments to support protective measures for activists and whistleblowers. Fifteen countries said they would make it easier for citizens to report corruption and to protect whistleblowers who take personal risks to unveil corruption.
- Georgia, Switzerland, the Ukraine and the UK made mostly ‘new’ commitments.
- The majority of commitments made by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico from the Americas are considered ‘not new’.
- China and South Africa are the only two countries to make not a single “new” commitment.
Fantastically corrupt, or fantastically ambitious?
Afghanistan and Nigeria, two countries labelled as ‘fantastically corrupt’ just days before the Summit, exceeded the expectations of many. Both are in the top 5 countries making the most new commitments. In addition, 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s commitments and 72 per cent of Nigeria’s commitments are judged ‘ambitious’ or ‘somewhat ambitious’.
In contrast, some of the world’s major and emerging economies fell short. The majority of Brazil’s commitments are judged ‘not new’ and ‘not ambitious’. Although all of China’s commitments are assessed as ambitious, none are new.
Civil Society's role
Governments did not adopt any formal mechanism for implementation of Summit commitments although the UN have stated they will discuss follow up at the UN General Assembly in September 2017. It is absolutely crucial therefore that civil society pick up the baton and ensure that countries are held accountable for the commitments made.
Timed with the release of the global database, Transparency International UK releases their method for monitoring the commitments made by the UK government. Their UK Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker will show exactly what commitments are made, who is responsible for them and the state of play according to publicly available information. This also ensures that governments must be transparent and communicative in their efforts to implement their own commitments.
By the UN General Assembly in 2017 we should be able to see which countries have been true to their words and which have walked away. Along the way will do all we can to keep them honest.
Editor's note: On 24 May 2017 this feature was amended to correct the link to the UK Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker.
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