2018: A Year of Integrity and Anti-Corruption

Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Sanjay Pradhan, CEO of Open Government Partnership and Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio, Chair, Transparency International, present upcoming challenges and events in the world of integrity and anti-corruption.

2018 is shaping up to be a significant year for integrity and anti-corruption. Several global events, including those hosted by OECD, Transparency International (TI) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP), will allow governments, business and civil society to explore, showcase and shape the debate on integrity reform and innovation.

2018: a nexus for change?

Over the last two years, scandals unveiled by the publication of the Panama and Paradise Papers grabbed headlines, shocking citizens and shaming the corrupt. These scandals made prominent an ugly truth – that corruption and unethical practices undermine the benefits of globalisation by exacerbating inequality, deterring investment, and distorting competition. These revelations showed an urgent need to strengthen public integrity, double down on anti-corruption reform, create a level playing field for businesses, and close legislative loopholes. Moreover, they demonstrated the need to rebuild trust between governments and citizens.

We have reached a turning point in the global fight against corruption: only a coordinated response among all partners – government, business and civil society – will lead to meaningful reform and lasting change. The global events in 2018 will provide a forum for discussions on the role of international cooperation and multilateralism in building a culture of integrity.

Turning ideas into action

The OECD, OGP, and TI all help countries develop and implement integrity, transparency, and anti-corruption reforms. For example, through its Recommendation on Public Integrity, the OECD guides countries in putting integrity strategies into practice across the whole of government and whole of society. Similarly, through its Recommendation on Open Government, the OECD supports countries in making their laws, institutions, and policies work to make government more open, fair, and transparent. In 2018, the OECD will work with countries from across the globe, including Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Thailand, to carry out systemic integrity and open government reforms.

Similarly, OGP provides a platform for government and civil society to work together on national and local-level reforms. These reforms are put together into OGP action plans, which can also complement commitments made in other forums. For instance, the London Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016 resulted in more than six hundred commitments across more than forty countries. Twenty countries turned their summit pronouncements into concrete commitments in their OGP action plans, which are co-created with national civil society  and ensure accountability for implementation. These commitments have ranged from establishing beneficial ownership registers in Kenya and Nigeria, to creating the data infrastructure to implement the Open Data Charter in Italy. TI is supporting their implementation and tracking their progress in several countries, including through “pledge trackers” TI chapters have developed.

With more than one hundred chapters worldwide, TI is leading a global movement of civil society organizations against corruption, holding governments and businesses to account and inspiring activists and advocates to stand up for transparency. Last month, TI released its flagship publication, the Corruption Perceptions Index, which showed that most countries are making little to no progress in curbing corruption, while activists and journalists are risking their lives to speak out. As part of the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, TI collaborates with local partners and investigative journalists, identifies structural weaknesses and corruption risks in-country, and spotlights corruption scandals in the media while pushing for policy change. Building off recent campaigns around Golden Visas in Europe and an Azerbaijani Laundromat slush fund scheme to buy influence across Europe, in 2018 TI will continue its global advocacy efforts to expose corrupt governments and businesses.

Maintaining momentum through global dialogue

These efforts, along with countless others, will feed the integrity, anti-corruption and transparency debates taking place during 2018. On 27-28 March, the OECD Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum, one of the first big milestones of 2018, will take place in Paris. Here, the international debate will focus on how integrity contributes to a level playing field for business, reduces socio-economic inequalities, and makes public policies more effective, – thus increasing the benefits of globalisation for all.

The next multi-stakeholder dialogue will take place at OGP’s 5th Global Summit in Tbilisi from 17-19 July, where the current government and civil society co-chairs of OGP – the Government of Georgia and civil society leader Mukelani Dimba – have made anti-corruption a priority for the agenda, as well as their year-long tenure as co-chairs. OGP is seeking proposals for sessions until 31 March.

Finally, these conversations will culminate with the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Copenhagen from 22-24 October. This year’s theme, “Together for Development, Peace, and Security: Now is the Time to Act,” builds on previous IACC priorities to spur movement throughout the global community and to turn promises into collective action. IACC is currently accepting proposals for workshops from now through 15 April.

We call on our partners to help ensure continuity and accountability across the different global conversations. We invite countries to use the OGP Global Summit and the 18th IACC as opportunities to check-in and carry forward the conversations they initiate at the OECD Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum.

To explore how we turn reform into concrete action, OGP, OECD and TI are jointly hosting a breakfast roundtable on the margins of the March Forum, convening government, civil society and business leaders. The roundtable will 1) discuss how ideas brought to the Forum can be pursued at national and local level, including through OGP action plans, 2) explore follow-up opportunities for collaboration after the Forum, and 3) identify key milestones to check throughout 2018.

We’re looking forward to productive conversations at the Forum to advance both country and collective action on integrity and anti-corruption.

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