Maggie Murphy, Senior Global Advocacy Manager for Transparency International, contributes the following guest post:
International summits come and go, and all too often the promises made at these summits are quickly forgotten, lost in an online catacomb or otherwise hard to track. We at Transparency International are determined that the commitments made by government representatives at last May’s London Anticorruption Summit (648 total commitments by 41 of the 43 participating governments) must not slide into oblivion in this way. That’s why, as Matthew announced in a post earlier this month, we’ve gone through every single country statement and compiled all commitments into one central database, sortable by country, theme, and region. Our goal is for this database to be used by anticorruption advocates and activists to monitor what their countries have committed to, and whether and where they are making progress.
We’ve done our own preliminary analysis of the commitments, assessing the extent to which each commitment is (1) “concrete” (i.e measurable), (2) “new” (i.e., generated by the Summit), and (3) “ambitious” (according to country partners). We found that more than half of the commitments were concrete, about a third were brand new, and about a third seen to be ambitious by our country partners. That’s encouraging, and certainly better than I would have expected.
We’ve put together a more formal analysis here, including a description of how we came to our conclusions. Let me highlight some of the most interesting ones:
- Of the 43 participating governments, 41 issued unique country statements containing commitments. (We don’t know why Saudi Arabia didn’t issue commitments, nor why Senegal’s declaration, which can be found (in French) here, wasn’t included on the formal Summit website.)
- Afghanistan and Nigeria, the two countries then-Prime Minister David Cameron said were “fantastically corrupt” just days before the Summit, ended up being fantastically ambitious. Both were among the top five countries making the most brand new commitments. In addition, 80% of Afghanistan’s commitments and 72% of Nigeria’s commitments were judged “ambitious” or “somewhat ambitious.”
- South Africa seemed to go AWOL. Despite issuing a four page statement, we struggled to find a single specific commitment anywhere in that document. The only thing we could find that could be generously characterized as a commitment was a vaguely worded statement that South Africa would continue to redraft its national anti-corruption strategy. (It was also disappointing that while 12 other countries, including for example Nigeria, were represented by their heads of government, South Africa was represented by the High Commissioner in London.)
- Despite South Africa’s disappointing showing, Sub-Saharan Africa as a region outperformed the G20 on all three criteria, generating greater percentages of new, ambitious, and concrete commitments. Sub-Saharan African countries also made more commitments on average than their counterparts (even though South Africa, with just one commitment, brought the regional average down).
- China scored very highly on ambition. All five commitments were deemed ambitious. However, we found that not a single one of China’s commitments was actually new.
- As mentioned previously on this blog, there was quite a lot of the (relatively) “new”—open contracting, open data, and beneficial ownership—and less of the “tried and true” (such as supporting national audit institutions). Indeed 17% of all 648 commitments were made on beneficial ownership, an apt demonstration of the momentum generated on that issue in recent years. Compare that to the 0.01% of commitments made on anti-bribery laws and enforcement. Of course, that’s not to say that countries have necessarily shifted away from tackling bribery as a priority – perhaps that a Summit in 2016 isn’t necessary to generate new commitments (although certain attendees still have a woeful lack of legislation in place).
So what next? First, we hope that the database will act as a useful tool for people interested to filter and sort and find out which countries have committed to what. Our main goal, though is that country partners are able to use it as a way to hold their governments accountable. Transparency International UK has already developed a own “pledge tracker” to keep the UK government honest, and we hope others will follow suit. In the meantime, I’m curious to see what trends or surprises readers of this blog will find in the database. So please do have a look at the dataset and let us know what you think in the comments box! All comments are encouraged and welcome.