C20 Presentation to the Anti-Corruption Working Group

Filed under - Civil society

Speech by Huguette Labelle, 26 February 2013 – Moscow, Russia
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Ladies and Gentlemen:

I want to thank the Russian Federation for extending this invitation to be present today. I also want to recognize the G20 and its creation of the Anti-Corruption Working Group in response to the lack of transparency and accountability within the crisis-stricken global financial system. We look forward to continuing our endeavour with you in the important struggle against the abuse of power, bribery and secret dealings.

Corruption is an obstacle to economic growth and as such very much in line with the priority of the Russian G20 Presidency on increasing economic growth through trust, transparency and effective regulation.

The Russian G20 Presidency is the first to introduce a formal civil society consultation process. Transparency International is pleased to have the role of the Co-Chair of the Civil 20 (C20) Anti-Corruption Working Group and in this capacity it is my pleasure to address you today.

Transparency International is also a member of the Business 20 Anti-Corruption Task Force. In our efforts to fight corruption we strongly believe in multi-stakeholder solutions, and the need for constructive dialogue and collaboration on anti-corruption issues between the public sector, the business sector and civil society. We welcome the G20’s commitment to further develop principles for outreach among nonmembers and commend the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group for its productive cooperation with the Business 20 (B20) Anti-Corruption Task Force last year. We look forward to a similarly productive collaboration and exchange with the Civil 20 Anti-Corruption Working Group this year.

1.Recommendations from civil society for G20 members in their efforts to stop corruption

There is increasing global awareness of the devastating effects corruption can have on peoples’ livelihoods and the proper functioning of a society. The new G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan (2013 – 2014) rightly puts an emphasis on identifying obstacles to implementation of anti-corruption measures and sharing best practices as well as increasing international cooperation and information-sharing. With this in mind we have nine recommendations to make. We hope recent political momentum can be used to support these steps.

a. Curb illegal financial transactions

To reduce illegal financial deals and prevent their countries from becoming a safe haven for illicitly acquired assets, G20 countries need to:

  • Undertake reviews of the treatment of high-risk customers and business relationships by their financial institutions and publish the results.
  • Create registers that disclose the beneficial ownership of trusts and companies and that are accessible to relevant investigative and judicial authorities and to the public, except in cases where a compelling case can be made not to do so. In this regard we support the work of the Financial Stability Board’s legal identity identifier.
  • Implement greater domestic and international inter-agency cooperation to overcome existing legal, operational and political barriers to legal assistance to enable more effective cross-border information-sharing on tax matters.
  • Speed up mutual legal assistance procedures to facilitate asset recovery processes.
  • Demonstrate a commitment against impunity and implement robust sanctions against malfeasance

b. Create a civil society coordination mechanism

G20 members should establish an anti-corruption network of public authorities and civil society organisations, including journalists’ organisations.

c. Standardize legislation protecting whistle blowers across G20 states

To protect whistle blowers from reprisals, all G20 countries should pass whistle blower protection legislation for the public and private sectors drawing on the principles developed in the Working group, and establish comprehensive protection procedures.  In this regard we also welcome the OECD principles on whistleblower protection.

d. Promote anti-corruption trainings for civil society and the public and private sectors

The G20 commitment in the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan promotes education and training initiatives that support the prevention of corruption through education in the public and private sectors. Civil society welcomes this initiative and would like the Russian Presidency to ensure the widest possible use by civil society, private sector and public sector.

e. Promote information sharing between civil society and G20 states

We recommend that the Co-Chairs of the G20 Anti-corruption Working Group continue to circulate civil society documents to the entire working group, a practice initiated last year.

f. Bring transparency in the extractive industries

In order to hold companies and governments to account to their citizens and to assist investors in their risk assessment, all G20 countries should pass legislation requiring oil, gas and mining companies to disclose the payments they make to governments of each country where they operate.

g. Ratification, review and enforcement of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)

G20 countries should actively apply and enforce the relevant national laws implementing UNCAC. They should also support increased transparency and inclusiveness in the UNCAC review process, including participation of civil society and other key stakeholders such as the private sector in national reviews. They should also publish the full review reports. Germany and Japan, the only G20 members that have not ratified UNCAC should be encouraged to do so urgently.

h. Enforcement of Foreign Bribery Legislation

We welcome that Russia has joined the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and that almost half of the Conventions’ parties have taken action, sanctioning companies and individuals under criminal proceedings for foreign bribery. However, in over half of the parties there has been little or no enforcement.

  • To demonstrate their anti-bribery commitment, G20 members China, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia should become parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and its peer review process.
  • All G20 members should lead internationally by providing regular public reports on the enforcement of all their anti-corruption laws including those on foreign bribery.
  • All G20 government and entities controlled by governments should report on all payments received by companies.

i. Promote greater public sector integrity

Transparency in the public sector is essential in order to build trust by citizens, to prevent social instability and to stop the misallocation of public resources to the benefit of the few at the expense of the population.

G20 governments should adopt and urge all governments to promptly enact the standards for procurement and public financial management consistent with Article 9 of the UNCAC and the OECD Principles on Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement.

  • G20 governments should urgently implement the principles for asset disclosure by public officials agreed on at the Los Cabos Summit in 2012.
  • G20 governments should adopt and urge all governments to promptly enact the standards for procurement and public financial management consistent with Article 9 of the UNCAC and the OECD principles on Enhancing Integrity and Public Procurement.
  • G20 governments should not allow elected public officials to enjoy immunity when charged with corruption offenses.
  • To protect the independence of the judiciary, G20 countries should provide for such independence by law and in systems for hiring, assignment and promotion of judges and should prohibit political interference on judges.

2. Civil society’s role in supporting the G20’s anti-corruption agenda

Civil society represents the voice of the people and as such has played an integral role in supporting the G20’s anti-corruption efforts. Since the creation of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group we have coordinated joint civil society submissions with concrete actionable recommendations to critically and constructively support the work of this Group, based on our expertise and experience. With our support the Anti-Corruption Action Plan carries greater weight and has an even better chance of being enacted and enforced. We look forward to continuing our constructive engagement. In addition to recommending specific actions and how best to enforce these, civil society:

  • Can support anti-corruption goals and promote appropriate implementation actions through our networks at national and international levels. For example, Transparency International is present in 18 of the G20 members including an office at the European Union in Brussels.
  • Can promote accountability by closely monitoring the implementation of the G20 anti-corruption plan as well as enforcement of foreign bribery laws such as the OECD Anti-bribery Convention by member states.
  • Will continue to promote enforcement and ratification of the UNCAC as the global framework against corruption.

Conclusion

The G20 is an important organisation that drives policy around the world. As the G20 has acknowledged in the 2012 Los Cabos Communiqué, the biggest challenge in the fight against corruption is “closing the implementation and enforcement gap”. The Russian G20 Presidency could make its mark on the fight against corruption by encouraging a greater focus on concrete actions to stop bribery and fraud, and by working closely with civil society and other key stakeholders.

Country / Territory - International   |   Russia   
Region - Global   |   Europe and Central Asia   
Language(s) - English   
Topic - Civil society   |   Financial markets   |   Whistleblowing   
Tags - Extractive industries   |   Whistleblower protection   |   UNCAC   |   OECD Anti-Bribery Convention   |   Impunity   |   Financial integrity   |   G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group   |   C20   |   Asset recovery   |   Public sector integrity   

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