This week, activists from more than 600 civil society organisations and more than 45 countries worldwide gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the sixth annual Civil 20 (C20) summit.
As governments across the globe crack down on citizen groups, stifling their ability to speak out and hold governments to account, the role of civil society is more important now than ever. The meeting comes at a critical time prior to the G20 meeting later this year.
Spurring global action
Hosted by Poder Cuidadano, Transparency International’s chapter in Argentina, this year’s C20 summit has a simple, yet critical goal: amplify the voice of civil society to ensure G20 leaders make good on their promises.
One of seven engagement groups of the G20, the C20 is in a unique position to represent the interests of citizens and advocacy groups in urging world leaders to act on behalf of the people they serve, and not just in the best interests of politicians and special interest groups.
G20 commitments at risk
Despite more than 60 anti-corruption commitments from G20 leaders in the last few years, there is little evidence of any real progress.
A recent report from Transparency International exposing issues of money laundering and anonymous company ownership, found severe weaknesses across most G20 countries, underlining the lack of action.
B20 and C20 collaboration
However, last month, in a rare show of solidarity, the Business 20, which represents the private sector, and the C20 released two historic joint statements highlighting the crucial role of anti-corruption in maintaining economic and financial stability.
The first statement urges G20 countries to create specific anti-corruption action plans to help combat cross-border corruption and build accountability; the second statement calls for increased integrity and transparency in state-owned enterprises, which are essential to national economic success.
With the business community and civil society speaking with one voice against corruption, the question remains: Will G20 leaders finally live up to their promises?
A turning point in Argentina
In the opening session at the C20 summit, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri highlighted the importance of civil society in prioritising anti-corruption and promoting transparency, as outlined in the final C20 communique to G20 leaders. Days before the summit, Macri also announced that Argentina will develop a national anti-corruption strategy, and will invite other G20 members to do the same.
Addressing the meeting, Transparency International’s chair, Delia Ferreira Rubio, joined by civil society leaders to outline what governments must do to commit to anti-corruption.
What we need in the fight against corruption is AIR – action, implementation and reports.
Transparency International and its participating chapters from Australia, Brazil, Mexico, France, Russia, Germany and Argentina, along with other C20 attendees, urged leaders to uphold their commitments on anti-corruption and other essential issues at the G20 meeting in November, and launched the #G20takeaction social media campaign.
Looking further ahead, C20 participants focused on how to maintain this momentum at future summits in Japan (2019) and Saudi Arabia (2020), with an eye toward 2030 and the deliverables outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With so many competing priorities, it’s important for the G20 to keep a clear focus in order to implement their commitments. Why make new promises when the previous ones are still outstanding?
You can find a full list of anti-corruption recommendations and the C20 communique here.
Image: Creative Commons, Flickr / Valerie Hinojosa
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