News 19th Jan 2016

Will the 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit be a closed-door affair?

Robert Barrington

Executive Director (former)

Robert served as Executive Director of Transparency International UK from 2013 until July 2019. He is now Professor of Anti-Corruption Practice at Sussex University’s Centre for the Study of Corruption.

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In July last year, the Prime Minister announced that he would host a global anti-corruption summit in 2016. It looks like that will be held in May, and it could turn out to be extremely important.

Many observers feel that the global anti-corruption architecture has been stuck in a rut over the past decade, with certain governments blocking progress. The result has been a constant re-assertion of the problems but without real progress in solving them.

This Summit could be different – it can bring together governments that really want to make progress, and have them sign up to actions that they genuinely intend to carry out. It could change the terms of the debate by being an inter-governmental anti-corruption process that acknowledges that the real victims of corruption are the world’s citizens, and often the poorest; that developed economies are often complicit as centres of money laundering; that corruption undermines global security and perpetuates insecurity; and that business and economies thrive when corruption is reduced.

Although the Cabinet Office has, to date, been admirably inclusive in their discussions around the Summit plans, key decisions have not yet been taken. It is important that the voices of civil society and business are properly heard around the development of the Summit.

A poor outcome would be a group of governments getting together behind closed doors and, for whatever reason, failing to meet the high expectations that the Prime Minister has laid out. A good result will move forward the global agenda and make a genuine difference in the fight against corruption, while ensuring that the positive energy of business and civil society is working in the same direction as the inter-governmental effort. That is more likely to happen if the voices of civil society and business are heard both in the planning and at the time of the Summit.

Read a longer piece from Robert Barrington on the Summit here.