From an anti-corruption perspective, was the 2018 G20 a success?

"Another G20 Summit is over, but for all of us committed to the fight against corruption, the work is just beginning."

Another G20 Summit is over, but for all of us committed to the fight against corruption, the work is just beginning.  Our initial reaction to the G20 2018 Communique was disappointment.

Once again, there was only a weak mention of anti-corruption, and no reference to our call for the G20 to implement its existing commitments rather than come up with new ones.

The delay in publishing the supporting documents on anti-corruption didn’t help either.

But now that we’ve managed to have a look at the new G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan, we are pleased to report that we are cautiously optimistic about the G20 anti-corruption agenda over the next three years.

Among the strengths of the new 2019–2021 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan launched in Buenos Aires, we can highlight:

Implementation: Compared to previous years, the new Anti-Corruption Action Plan has a strong focus on implementation.
With the clear phrase “More needs to be done” the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) recognizes that they need to accelerate the implementation of their past commitments.
The group says that this will be one of their priorities for the next three years.
Furthermore, they commit to sharing experiences and best practices on developing and implementing national anti-corruption strategies.
This is in line with the joint statements, recommendations, campaigns and blogs that civil society have presented to the G20 this year.
Gender: For the first time ever, the G20 ACWG has decided to address the links between gender and corruption.
Although concrete measures are not specified, we will make sure they remember the suggestions civil society has sent them.
Communication: All the G20 Anti-Corruption commitments will be compiled on the G20 website.
This started as an informal initiative of the German G20 Presidency and was picked up by the Argentinian presidency. It was strongly supported by civil society.
This is an excellent resource that helps to strengthen the communication and engagement of the G20 ACWG.
Desire to get out of the silo: This year, civil society reminded the G20 that corruption is not an add-on issue that can be dealt with in isolation.
We urged the G20 ACWG to get out of its silo and try to have a greater impact on the other working groups and work-streams.
The new Anti-Corruption Action Plan says that the ACWG will strengthen its interactions and cooperation with other relevant work streams.
Furthermore, it states that it will start using the Leaders’ Communique to achieve greater impact. We expect to see a greater prominence of the anti-corruption agenda in the upcoming G20 Communiques.

G20 recognizes fight against corruption

Despite the slow pace of implementation of the 2014 G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership, the G20 again recognizes that transparency about the ultimate owners of companies is critical in the fight against corruption.

The working group says it will continue to promote the utilization of beneficial ownership information to tackle corruption and money laundering.

However, while the new G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan has strengths, many weaknesses still remain.

One of the main weaknesses is the failure to explicitly link previous commitments with the new G20 anti-corruption priorities and the Action Plan in general.

Furthermore, the G20 has decided to revert to a single Action Plan, which will be complemented each year by an annual work program.

By eliminating the implementation plan, the new Action Plan runs the risk of being too high level to allow for detailed monitoring and accountability.

What´s next, with Japan taking on the G20?

Although we are happy to see that the G20 ACWG has incorporated many of our recommendations into the new Anti-Corruption Action Plan, this doesn’t mean that we are going to walk away.

On the contrary, we are going to continue to ensure that the G20, once and for all, live up to their anti-corruption promises and that G20 leaders take the fight against corruption seriously.

Credit: Transparency International, the global coalition fighting against corruption.

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