Introducing the OGP Anti-corruption Working Group

On the eve of ICIJ’s next significant release of the Panama Papers, focused on the damage wrought by secrecy jurisdictions, and a major, G20-style anti-corruption summit in London, it seems logical to expect ambitious government agreements that will open up shady places and practices. For one, such agreements will help stop corruption, which is one of the main objectives of the Open Government Partnership.

To further this goal, OGP has recently set up a new Anti-corruption Working Group. To further this agenda, a group of countries (Brazil, Georgia and the United Kingdom) and CSOs (Open Society Foundations and Transparency International) have decided to co-anchor an Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) within OGP. We’ve recently been joined on the group by Romania and Sri Lanka, as well as by Global Witness and Open Contracting Partnership.

Why a corruption focus now? Corruption is a huge impediment to open and accountable governance, damaging trust and public service delivery alike. While the political and public momentum to address corruption is also evident, attention to issues of public integrity (where many OGP anti-corruption commitments can be found) has been limited, representing just 12% of overall commitments. Many OGP commitments in the public integrity area focus on corruption prevention, including regulatory reform and building capacity of anti-corruption systems. These are critical in that they set a strong framework for keeping government clean. They do not, however, do much to ensure that rules and systems will be enforced. They also don’t provide mechanisms that, when corruption is detected, are robust enough to ensure that justice is served. 

At Transparency International, we’ve long argued that dealing with corruption requires a holistic approach. The same applies to commitments within OGP, where we recommend a range of measures, from building an anti-corruption framework and targeting bureaucratic corruption, to focusing on political, private sector and cross-border corruption and strengthening law enforcement and the judiciary.

These commitments need to connect to one another. Even if a country implements the best possible asset declarations systems for its public officials, the measure will be incomplete if there is no adequate provisioning of consequences for false information. In short, anti-corruption efforts need to link prevention to enforcement if they are to lead to justice and accountability.

Ambitious commitments should be transformational (such as those positively flagged by the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism) and adhere to the highest standards for policy in a particular area. One example is the introduction of legislative footprint tracking in Ireland. There, the Irish government committed to introducing a legislative footprint -- a comprehensive public record of lobbyists’ influence on a piece of legislation -- to all current legislation, to be published on each government department’s website. This would allow citizens to track to and monitor the level of influence of lobbyists on elected representatives. Another is the adoption of public registers of beneficial ownership, such as in the UK, which promote corporate transparency and make it more difficult to perpetuate secrecy around international money flows.

Transparency International is delighted to be working with our co-anchors and others on the Anti-corruption Working Group to promote anti-corruption commitments to go further than ever before. The London summit provides a key moment to promote anti-corruption new action plan for June 2016.

The initial workplan for the ACWG is here. We look forward to welcoming new members as we refine and expand our mandate and develop our resources. In the short term, we aim to offer technical assistance and peer to peer exchange for those countries aiming to include anti-corruption commitments in their 2016 action plans. Moving forward, we hope to be an ongoing resource for ‘what works’ in anti-corruption, so that efforts to stop corruption within OGP make a significant contribution to opening up government and creating stronger accountability in our societies.

 

For more information about the ACWG and how we might be of help, please contact the co-anchors:

Robin Hodess rhodess@transparency.org

Craig Fagan cfagan@transparency.org

Julie McCarthy julie.mccarthy@opensocietyfoundations.org

Mark de la Iglesia mark.delaiglesia@opensocietyfoundations.org

 
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Authors: Robin Hodess
Filed Under: OGP News