News 07th Aug 2018

Two Years of Pledge Tracking

Jameela Raymond

Senior Policy Officer

Jameela is TI-UK’s Senior Policy Officer, working closely on coordinating UK and international anti-corruption policies and collaborating with civil society organisations and policy experts around the world. Jameela was previously TI-UK’s Public Engagement Officer (2014-2016), and recently completed her MSc in Globalisation and Latin American Development at UCL. She is enthusiastic about issues of development, politics, race, gender, equality and diversity.

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The world was a very different place two years ago.

But amid political change – both the predictable and the unpredictable – anti-corruption efforts should, in theory, continue unaffected. As an apolitical issue, we at Transparency International work hard to make sure that corruption stays at the top of global agendas despite fast-moving change on the ground.

Which is why in the last two years, since the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit was held in London, TI-UK has been leading our movement in encouraging the 43  governments which attended to act and implement the commitments they made at the time. Today we publish the most recent set of data, which reflects progress made on pledges by 16 governments across six themes using publicly available information found by our chapters in spring 2018. So where has there been a positive shift since 2016, and where does more work need to be done?


Asset Recovery

The  Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) was one of the new initiatives which came from the Summit. The GFAR’s inaugural meeting took place in December 2017, hosted by the UK and the USA and with a special focus on assistance to Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine. The GFAR communique states that the meeting generated an MOU between Nigeria, Switzerland and the World Bank which set out the return of $321million of recovered assets, and participants drew up principles for the disposition and transfer of confiscated stolen assets in corruption cases. Of the 24 asset recovery commitments that we are monitoring, 18 are either complete or ongoing – ten more than last summer.


Beneficial Ownership Transparency

At the start of 2016, comprehensive public registers of beneficial ownership information were merely an ambition for a handful of countries, and not even available option for many others. Eleven countries made commitments around introducing these registers. Afghanistan, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria have progress underway or ongoing – ambitious and original pledges from each of these countries demonstrate the importance of the issue all over the world. The UK’s register was promised ahead of the Summit, reiterated in its country statement and established in June 2016.


Law Enforcement

The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre was launched in July 2017 and is hosted in the UK. The Centre seeks to bring together specialist law enforcement officers from multiple agencies to tackle allegations of grand corruption – a phenomenon that we at TI have been fighting against for many years.  Kenya committed to introduce an Africa-focused version of the Centre, but there hasn’t been any news on this since the pledge was made.


Open Data

In the current iteration of global pledge tracking, the only open data commitments that we are tracking came from Mexico. Mexico is the first country in the world to implement the Open Up Guide for Anticorruption. In this effort 72 data sources were identified which matched the 30 datasets classified for anticorruption in the Guide. Following the recommendations in the Guide, 7 new datasets were published, 8 are in the process of being published, and 32 improved their quality.


Public Procurement

Pledges to establish databases of companies and individuals with corruption convictions against them have seen mixed progress: Afghanistan’s National Procurement Authority has established a public register detailing previous or current debarment sanctions; Switzerland has drafted legislation to introduce a central register of convicted companies, and; Mexico’s list already exists but has not been updated since 2015. Ghana and Nigeria are the only countries in the sample which made commitments to implement the Open Contracting Data Standard but  have not yet shown any evidence of progress.


Whistleblower Protection

Few governments have acted on their commitments to protect whistleblowers. Bulgaria seems to have gone against the spirit of protection altogether, with its new anti-corruption law instead requiring those who report corruption to sign the reports with no promise of exemption from reprisal. In 2016 the UK promised a review of ‘recent whistleblower legislation’, but the 2017 Anti-Corruption Strategy suggested the review would not take place until ‘2018/19’. Delays and dilutions of measures intended to protect whistleblowers are cause for concern.


A lot of this is hard work. It’s hard for governments which made incredibly ambitious commitments to get started on them, and it’s hard for certain global players to continue leading the pack as other issues emerge as competing priorities. But there are challenges on our side, too. The process of collecting this data can be a burdensome, as our methodology requires a necessary balance between working with government to get the right information and maintaining a critical perspective as an independent NGO. And this is time-sensitive work; we hope that by the time this data is launched new steps will have already been taken, and our assessments will need updating yet again. We will be revising this data again this year and launching it in October, ahead of this year’s International Anti-Corruption Conference. If you are aware of any updates on any of the specific commitments in our database, please let TI’s in-country chapter know and we’ll be able to capture it in our next iteration.

It is now two years on from the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit and so far, there has been mixed performance across the board. But the work needs to continue. Across the TI movement we will continue to hold our leaders to account and report on the progress they do or don’t make. Governments, meanwhile, can gain trust from their public and prove that these meetings are meaningful if they take the right steps to properly fulfil the pledges that they made.