Good Practice
Transparency International on the Success of the Anti-Corruption Summit

Back in May, London hosted the Anti-Corruption Summit. It was a call to action for world leaders, business and civil society to collaborate on a global plan to tackle corruption. The Gov.UK website outlined its intentions as: “agreeing a package of actions to tackle corruption across the board, it will deal with issues including corporate secrecy, government transparency, the enforcement of international anti-corruption laws, and the strengthening of international institutions.”

According to Transparency International (TI), the body that “gives voice to the victims and witnesses of corruption,” and works with governments, businesses and citizens to stop the abuse of power, the scale of the issue is huge. “68% of countries worldwide have a serious corruption problem. Half of the G20 are among them.” It highlights that more than 6 billion people live in countries with a serious corruption problem and 114 countries score below 50 out of 100 in its 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index.

In May, 43 countries representing global regions came to the UK Summit. They signed a global declaration against corruption and made 600 country-specific summit commitments. In a recently made available report, Transparency International asks: Was it worth it?

It has produced detailed analysis of the country-level commitments, asking whether they are concrete: actionable and measurable, new: generated by the Summit, and ambitious: strong steps in the context of the country they are coming from. It has also collated the country commitments and published them within a central database. Both the findings and the database are downloadable on the website, here and here, and are very worthwhile reading, we would suggest.

Overall it found that more than half of all commitments are concrete (56%), about a third are new (33%), and about a third again, are ambitious (30%).

The database is fascinating, do view it here, it gives all countries’ individual commitments and can be sorted by country, region or theme.  For example, one entry states: “The United States will continue to rigorously identify, trace, and ultimately recover assets related to the proceeds of corruption, which include over $1.8 billion currently under litigation. The United States is committed to returning the proceeds recovered for the benefit of the people harmed by the corruption …” And that is just one entry out of about 650. It must have been a mammoth task – you have to take your hat off to the people who worked on it.

The report itself is equally enlightening. It explains its standpoint, “that only a comprehensive approach to tackling corruption would make the Summit successful. We called on the Summit to deliver concrete, ambitious and measureable pledges on: Preventing corruption, Punishing the corrupt and ending impunity, Protecting and empowering citizens who report corruption.” And outlines how it measures success.

Overall it deems that “… Transparency International judged the Summit a success in promoting new and ambitious anti-corruption pledges on a comprehensive set of key issues. But the real verdict will only come when governments follow through and adopt the reforms that prevent corruption and prosecute corruption when it happens.”

It goes on to explain how it assessed the strength of summit’s country commitments, and identifies who promised what. It makes some startling but very interesting findings, such as “Afghanistan and Nigeria, two countries labelled as ‘fantastically corrupt’ just days before the Summit, exceeded the expectations of many. Both fall in the group of top five countries making the most new commitments. In addition, 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s commitments and 72 per cent of Nigeria’s commitments were judged ‘ambitious’ or ‘somewhat ambitious’”.

However, it also highlights some disappointments, “… some of the world’s major and emerging economies fell short. The majority of Brazil’s commitments were judged ‘not new’ (78 per cent) and ‘not ambitious’ (67 per cent). Although all of China’s commitments were assessed as ambitious, none were new. While 38 per cent of Russia’s commitments were ambitious, 60 per cent were judged ‘not new’”.

Again it is well worth reading in full (it’s not too long and easy to navigate and, thankfully, written in plain English – not sure if there are translations available, but if there are the uncomplicated language would probably translate well). You can download it here.