News 01st Jul 2016

The Anti-Corruption Summit: A Success or a Missed Opportunity?


Jameela Raymond

Senior Policy Officer

Jameela is TI-UK’s Senior Policy Officer, working closely on coordinating UK and international anti-corruption policies and collaborating with civil society organisations and policy experts around the world. Jameela was previously TI-UK’s Public Engagement Officer (2014-2016), and recently completed her MSc in Globalisation and Latin American Development at UCL. She is enthusiastic about issues of development, politics, race, gender, equality and diversity.

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Jameela Raymond on why the UK’s Anti-Corruption can be a real catalyst for positive progress in the global fight against corruption.

It’s been six weeks since the Anti-Corruption Summit and for many people the dust has already settled. After months of anticipation the event was a whirlwind – with 44 countries represented, 11 Heads of Government in attendance, over 600 country commitments, one declaration and a long communique, the Summit put anti-corruption at the heart of global news.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of the Summit was not even a year ago, but the Summit has acted as a catalyst for global commitments to be made that have potential to drastically reduce corruption across the board.

As a Summit that covered a wide range of anti-corruption issues, there were many opportunities for both failure and success. But what actually happened on 12 May, and what do we have to look forward to?

5 things we’re excited about

  • Strength of the commitments. Of the 600 country specific commitments we’ve counted, we see more than half of them being real, concrete promises. This was backed by strong language in the communique (e.g. “We want to send a clear signal to the corrupt that they will face consequences internationally”) which will help us to use similarly strong language to hold our governments to account as we go forward.


  • Standards are set. The day of Summit was better than many expected. Participative, inclusive, and streamed online, the bar has been raised for how future conferences should take place. On the day and in the documents published, the appreciation for the need to include civil society and business in efforts to fight corruption was clear.


  • Open Contracting and Health. Argentina, Malta, Nigeria and Mexico made open contracting commitments for their health sectors. Transparency International’s Pharmaceuticals & Health Programme in partnership with the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), UN organisations and the UK Government will work with these countries to support the implementation of open contracting and open data standards in health sector procurement.


  • Innovation Hub. This could be a real game changer. Run by the UK Government, the Innovation Hub will connect social innovators, technology experts and data scientists with law enforcement, business and civil society to collaborate on innovative approaches to fighting corruption. It will be in operation by December, and will showcase innovative approaches to tackling corruption at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Paris.


  • International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre. The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre will work closely with international and national organisations to support countries that have suffered from Grand Corruption.


  • Global Asset Recovery Forum. The Forum will focus on asset recovery assistance to Nigeria, Ukraine, Tunisia and Sri Lanka, and will be co-hosted by the UK and the USA. The inaugural meeting will take place in 2017, with support from the joint World Bank and UNODC Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR).


3 things we’re worried about


  • Weak on professional services. The communique promises to “drive out those lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, trust and company service providers, and other professional service providers who facilitate or are complicit in corruption and to deprive them of the opportunity to carry out professional activities in future”. But few countries committed to take real action in their individual statements, and those that did only committed to penalties for professionals facilitating tax evasion. We need confirmation that individual countries will take action against professionals who enable all types of corruption.


  • What happens next? Unlike G20 or UN Summits, the Anti-Corruption Summit didn’t fall under any particular framework, and it is not guaranteed that it will be repeated. A concern from TI-UK from the beginning has been the follow up and implementation needed for such an event, and it seems that opportunities are on the horizon. To avoid losing momentum from the Summit, we as civil society need to maintain pressure on our governments to stay committed to the promises they made.


Why we see the Summit as a success

The Summit had its weaknesses and kept many people in the dark in the months leading up to it. But now that it’s over it’s clear that the potential impact that it can make to anti-corruption is enormous. A mountain of commitments were made across a wide stretch of issues, and although it didn’t quite reach the ambition we had hoped on some topics, it has potential to have been in the world of anti-corruption.

As we move past the Summit it’s likely that people will get distracted- in the UK, the political landscape is already changing. Nonetheless, we will be urging the next Prime Minister to continue his work in the area. But we can’t do it alone. We need to work together to hold the Government to account – and to keep the need for anti-corruption in the public eye.

For a comprehensive list of what the UK Government committed to, and what we’ll be monitoring, see the table below.

 What did we call for?What did the UK Government commit to? See the UK's full country statement here 
Anti-Corruption StrategyWe outlined the need for an Anti-Corruption Strategy, as well as what that Strategy should include,here.“The UK will develop a cross-government Anti-Corruption Strategy by the end of 2016, which will set out our long-term vision for tackling corruption, including how we will implement the following commitments.” 
Asset RecoveryGovernments should commit to return stolen assets securely through a process that has openness and accountability at its heart. Where there are legitimate corruption risks in the repatriation process, this process should include looking at alternatives that are effective, open, accountable and participatory.“We endorse the guidelines for the transparent and accountable management of returned stolen assets, and common principles governing the payment of compensation to the countries affected.” 
 Governments should seek to implement the UN Convention Against Corruption article on illicit enrichment criminal offences, or Unexplained Wealth Order civil offences (depending on the national legal context).“The UK is consulting on stronger asset recovery legislation, including non-conviction based confiscation powers and the introduction of unexplained wealth orders.” 
Beneficial OwnershipImprove the mechanisms by which intelligence is shared between law enforcement agencies in different jurisdictions. Also seek to develop mechanisms through which banks, business, civil society and other stakeholders can share information related to risk and suspicions of corruption.“The UK is a founding country of the initiative for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information.” 
 Governments should set out clear timelines for establishing central, public registries containing beneficial ownership information.“The UK’s public central register of company beneficial ownership information for all companies incorporated in the UK will be launched in June 2016.” 
 Governments should require that any company, incorporated domestically or abroad, publicly disclose its beneficial ownership information when bidding for a public contract or purchasing and selling property.“The UK will also establish a public register of company beneficial ownership information for foreign companies who already own or buy property in the UK, or who bid on UK central government contracts.” 
DebarmentGovernments should establish a common debarment system to exclude companies from being awarded public contracts due to allegations of fraud, mismanagement and corruption. Leaders can agree to a joint effort to adopt and apply administrative sanctions and publicly list debarred companies, similar to the World Bank Listing of Ineligible Firms & Individuals.“The UK will introduce a conviction check process to prevent corrupt bidders with relevant convictions from winning public contracts, and is committed to exploring ways of sharing such information across borders.” 
Law Enforcement CooperationWorld leaders should improve the mechanisms for sharing financial intelligence on the corrupt between law enforcement agencies in different jurisdictions and coordinate regional or international law enforcement operations.“The UK will work with others to establish an International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre and will provide people and resources to support it” 
Open ContractingGovernments should sign up to and adhere to the Open Contracting Global Principles and associated Data Standard to make better use of government driven data“The UK Crown Commercial Service will implement the Open Contracting Data Standard by October 2016.” 
Professional ServicesGovernments should require professionals in law and accountancy, real estate, as well as company formation agents and bankers to have in place anti-money laundering checks and promote mandatory reporting on suspicions of money laundering. Governments should establish more effective administrative sanctions by encouraging professional bodies to withdraw professional licences from those implicated in such cases.“UK Government to publish a code of conduct for professional services.” 
SportsGovernments and other sporting stakeholders such as sponsors, international sporting organisations, and supporters’ bodies should collectively adopt a London Declaration, setting out an action plan for improving transparency and governance of sports organisations.“The UK will continue to work with international sports bodies, other countries and international organisations to develop an International Sport Integrity Partnership. The UK is also launching a domestic charter on integrity and good governance in sport.” 
Protecting Whistleblowers & Civil SocietyGovernment should support protective measures for activists and whistleblowers, including through increased support to initiatives for reporting, responding to and seeking redress for corruption complaints, and by providing strong digital security and physical protection measures“The UK is committed to providing effective protections for whistleblowers and made recent legislative changes to make the system more transparent. The UK will review the effectiveness of these changes” 
 Governments should issue a London Declaration of support to protect the space and safety of civil society organisations, anti-corruption activists and whistle blowers.“Today’s Summit has demonstrated the deep commitment of a significant number of countries, businesses and members of civil society to work together to tackle this scourge.” 
  Read the rest of the The Global Declaration on Anti-Corruption here 
Open DataGovernments should promote open data literacy by supporting the collaborative development of guides, documents, training and tools that can increase the effectiveness and use of open data across government, civil society and business sectors.“The UK is launching an Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub with other countries to support social innovators, technology experts, and data scientists to collaborate with law enforcement and civil society organisations on innovative approaches to anti-corruption.” 

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