Three ways OGP can help deliver real change from the UK Anti-Corruption Summit
Across the world leaders are locked in policy discussions on how to tackle corruption, most notably at this week’s Anti-Corruption Summit in London. To achieve truly ambitious reform, that meets citizens’ needs and expectations, the Open Government Partnership should play a central role in the global response to the wave of recent corruption scandals.
This should happen in three concrete ways.
First, the anti-corruption commitments made by governments at the London Summit and other international fora, such as within Sustainable Development Goal 16, should be embedded within OGP National Action Plans. This guarantees two crucial elements needed for success: an opportunity for civil society to advocate and shape reforms to make them as ambitious as the context allows; and independent reporting to ensure accountability for implementation of announcements made this week. There is strong precedent for this approach. For example, last week South Africa committed to a public register of beneficial ownership in their new OGP plan, building on the UK government’s 2013 OGP commitment to do the same.
Second, OGP is an ideal space to secure a lasting legacy from this week’s Summit. The UK initiative to convene a large number of countries around tackling corruption is welcome, but policy making processes will not necessarily align with the timeline for an individual Summit. OGP can help ensure that this is the start of an ongoing conversation, rather than the end. We will invite all of the London participants to a special session in Paris at the fourth OGP Global Summit December 7-9th to check in on progress made on the London agreements, and to allow leaders to make further, more ambitious, policy commitments. Our aim is to encourage the 69 governments and thousands of civil society organizations participating in OGP to see this as an opportunity to secure major collective action on beneficial ownership, open contracting, citizen monitoring, open data and extractive industry transparency. OGP’s new anti-corruption working group (co-anchored by several governments and civil society organizations) will help to facilitate this process. It will aim to offer technical assistance and peer to peer exchange for those countries aiming to include anti-corruption commitments in their 2016 action plans.
Third, we invite governments not currently participating in OGP to consider joining. Germany recently announced its intention to join in 2016, Sri Lanka signed up in late 2015 and there were positive signals from the Nigerian government at an anti-corruption event in Abuja last week. There are close to 30 other eligible governments who could join OGP and make it a platform for tackling corruption and engaging with civil society.
From the fallout of the Petrobras scandal in Brazil to the abuse of offshore companies exposed by the Panama Papers, people are demanding action against corruption. This is a pivotal moment. Policy responses could be timid, and continue to protect the vested interests that benefit from the status quo, or could usher in a new era of unprecedented openness and accountability. Through OGP our collective ambition can be raised, and a lasting policy response can be secured.