From Indonesia to India: Is There Hope for Anti-Corruption Efforts Within the G20?

Civil Society, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, G20, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, TerraViva United Nations


Many of the global crises we face are caused or exacerbated by corruption. Credit: Ashwath Hedge/Wikimedia Commons

Many of the global crises we face are caused or exacerbated by corruption. Credit: Ashwath Hedge/Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON DC, Sep 27 2022 (IPS) – As global crises mount, the G20 is proving unable to find solutions. Political disagreements within the bloc- including most prominently with Russia over the ongoing war in Ukraine- have hamstrung collective efforts.

Economic challenges have inevitably led to a focus on domestic priorities. And significant political changes in key G20 countries over the past few months- such as the UK and Italy- have further undermined joint decision-making.

Equally, on corruption issues, the G20 has a long way go, although the body continues to reiterate its commitment fighting graft and leading by example on core issues such as the role of audit institutions, anti-corruption education, money laundering and graft in the renewable energy sector.

The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) meets for the final time under the Indonesian Presidency this week- and while there remains plenty to do, there are also glimmers of hope for the future, as India takes on leadership of the G20 for 2023.

It is easy to get disheartened about the continued ubiquity of corruption- but beyond the headlines and if we pay attention to the small print, there is some important progress being made

To better understand the progress made, Accountability Lab, as one of the international Co-Chairs of the C20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG), has partnered with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) to distill complex and scattered information on anti-corruption within G20 countries (often buried in lengthy reports, as we’ve highlighted previously) into a set of easy-to-understand one-pagers. Each of these (see Australia here or South Africa here for example) outlines for each of the member countries the progress made against key priorities, with the goal of encouraging sharing of ideas and learning within the G20.

Here is what we found:

Enhancing the role of audit in tackling corruption

The G20 ACWG recognizes the important role of audit in preventing corruption in both the public and private sectors, and member countries have institutions and systems in place to deter corruption.

For instance, 17 out of the 19 G20 member countries (the 20th is the EU) score over a global average of 63 on the International Budget Partnership’s metric for oversight by supreme audit institutions. Brazil has received a great deal of scrutiny in recent years because of corruption, but Brazil’s Tribunal de Contas da Uniao (TCU) is cited as an example for its innovative use of data analytics and artificial intelligence including identifying indicators of corruption.

Member countries are also improving existing laws, with Japan proposing to reform its audit law to provide more enforcement power to the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants and improve oversight of listed companies.

Promoting public participation and anti-corruption education

Most G20 member countries have policies guaranteeing the right to participation through specific laws such as the right to information, public information disclosure or public procurement, to name a few.

In India, the Pre-legislative Consultation Policy was passed recently to ensure public participation in policy-making processes, and government as well as civil society platforms are available to promote public education, including on corruption issues.

Similarly, South Korea’s Public-Private Consultative Council for Transparent Society under the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission provides a platform to inform and disseminate anti-corruption messages. South Korea also aims to strengthen civic space and public participation including through a national Participatory Budgeting Citizens’ Committee.

In Australia a public-private partnership (Bribery Prevention Network) launched in October 2020 bringing together the private sector, civil society, government and academia to provide free resources to help corporates implement anti-bribery programmes, and was runner up in the Anti Corruption Collective Action Awards 2022.

Professional enablers of money laundering

The G20 acknowledges gaps in member countries’ anti-money laundering efforts, particularly related to preventive measures targeting professional enablers, including accountants, lawyers, or real estate agents- and is aiming to pull together guidance on these issues through a Compendium for Professional Enablers of Money Laundering.

While most countries do not have a comprehensive definition of Designated Non-Financial Business Professionals (DNFBPs), Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia comply with the 2012 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on the definition. The 2021 follow-up review from FATF noted that the revisions to China’s anti-money laundering law will include general provisions and supervision of DNFPBs.

In the US, if the ENABLERS Act– which was approved by the House of Representatives in July 2022– is passed by the Senate, it could regulate professional enablers; and in the UK, lack of supervision of enablers is being acknowledged by the government as it looks at different models to strengthen the supervision of accountants and lawyers.

Promoting corruption in the renewable energy sector

The G20 is working on a background note on Promoting Anti-Corruption in Renewable Energy in order to raise awareness and increase collaboration to prevent corruption in the energy sector. In 2022, Argentina launched an open information system (SIACAM) which provides public access to data on mining activities in the country, including their environmental and socio-economic impacts.

The Resource Governance Index notes that Argentina is one of only 7 countries that has made this type of data available. Similarly in Mexico, progress has been made with the publication of all oil procurement contracts on the state-owned website oil company, Pemex.

Japan’s cooperation agreement with India and the European Union to share experiences and best practices on liquid natural gas is cited as an example to follow by the International Energy Agency.

It is easy to get disheartened about the continued ubiquity of corruption- but beyond the headlines and if we pay attention to the small print, there is some important progress being made.

With the G20, the key now- as India assumes leadership of group- is for member countries to double down on their commitments and follow-through on implementation of reforms. Many of the global crises we face are caused or exacerbated by corruption- now is the time for our leaders to get this right.

Blair Glencorse is Executive Director of Accountability Lab; Sanjeeta Pant is of Accountability Lab. This piece draws on research carried out with RUSI. Follow the Lab on Twitter @accountlab


We Need Urgent Commitment, Resources & Action to Tackle Hunger Crisis

Civil Society, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Food and Agriculture, Global, Headlines, Population, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations


Conversation at the UN General Assembly Side Event on Responding to the Urgent Humanitarian Needs in the Horn of Africa. Credit: Karelia Pallan/Oxfam

NEW YORK, Sep 27 2022 (IPS) – Last week, as world leaders gathered in New York for the 77th United Nations General Assembly, one topic came up more than most: looming famine. That’s because despite a global commitment to make famine a relic of the past, it is once again knocking at our door.

In Somaliland two weeks ago, I witnessed communities past their breaking points. Grandparents there told me they could not recall a drought like this in their lifetimes.

At UNGA, I was honored to take part in many discussions on this and other topics – in particular a panel about the urgent humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa. The region is facing several interlinked issues, including hunger, conflict, climate, and COVID-19. As we discuss – and more importantly, respond to – the crisis, we should keep in mind three themes: the urgency of the moment, the need for more access and more funding, and the implementation of a systemic solution.

The humanitarian crisis in the Horn needs to be at the top of the international agenda, and we need commitment, resources and action urgently. We have seen the warning signs that famine is coming for quite some time – and now we have been warned that it could be declared in Somalia as soon as next month.

Often, the international community is reactionary to crises, but this time we must also be anticipatory in assessing and responding to the needs of the region. In my trip to Somaliland, I spoke to farmers, pastoralists, and visited communities impacted by conflict, climate, and COVID-19. It was my first visit back to Somaliland in more than 20 years, which offered an interesting perspective of the arc of change.

Abby Maxman speaks with Safia, a woman forced to leave her home in Somaliland amid the drought and growing hunger. Credit: Chris Hufstader/Oxfam

Their shared experience is clear: their livelihoods and way of life – and that of their ancestors – are in danger and the need for action now is more urgent than ever. It is dispiriting that these preventable tragedies continue to repeat when the world has the resources and know-how to prevent them.

I spoke with Safia, a 38-year-old divorced mother of eight children, who lost 90% of her livestock. She stayed as long as she could in her community until she felt unsafe as the weak and dead livestock attracted hyenas at night, compelling her to make the five-day journey to reach the Dur-Dur IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camp near Burao.

At Dur Dur they were welcomed with clean water, some food, and materials to build a shelter. She and her children have been there for about three months. They are struggling to get enough food and might eat one meal a day, if they can. Oxfam and others are there offering support, but it’s not nearly enough to meet their basic needs.

Safia’s experience was just one of countless more of those who are bearing the brunt of the dual global hunger and climate crises that has been brought on by distant forces who are prioritizing profits over people and planet.

Earlier this year, Oxfam’s research estimated that one person is dying from acute hunger in the region every 48 seconds. Since then, the situation has only gotten worse. We have a narrow window of opportunity to stave off hunger in the horn. It is not too late to avert disaster, but more needs to be done immediately.

We know that anticipatory action saves lives, livelihoods, and scarce aid money, and across Oxfam and with our partners we have been sounding the alarm of this slow, onset emergency at local, national, and global levels for the past two years. Yet we are witnessing a system that is failing the people who are least responsible for this crisis.

We need more access and a lot more funding that supports frontline organizations and leaders. During the panel, it was encouraging to hear Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Second Martin Griffiths put such emphasis on funding local organizations and leaders who have the knowledge, access, and courage to make real impact.

Local organizations know where the most vulnerable people are located, they can reach disaster zones quickly, and they understand the languages, cultures, geography, and political realities of the affected communities far better than outsiders.

These local leaders should be given the resources and space to make decisions to have the most effective response that will save lives now and in the long run. This may mean that international donors and organizations need to be more flexible in how they coordinate, fund, and implement a humanitarian response. The old way may not be the most effective – in fact we know it is not – especially where there are access challenges.

Finally, we must take a systemic approach in tackling these issues. We know that hunger, climate, and conflict do not happen in silos – they are inextricably linked. We must make sure we are fighting these interlinked crises, especially hunger and climate, together.

Climate change is causing more extreme weather events like droughts, floods, and heatwaves, which devastate crops and displace vulnerable communities. In fact, hunger has more than doubled in 10 of the worst climate hotspots in recent years.

Countries that have contributed the least to emissions are bearing the worst impacts of the climate crisis, while fossil fuel companies see record-breaking profits. Less than 18 days of profits from fossil fuel companies could cover the whole UN humanitarian appeal of $48.82 billion for 2022.

These conversations and convenings are important, but we must do more than raise the alarm – we must see action to follow them up. I hope that leaders recommit the political will to fulfill their moral obligation to meet this crisis in the Horn head on.

Safia is doing all she can to ensure her family’s survival – we must see leaders do all in their power, right now, to make sure she and millions more get the urgent aid they need now to survive, and see their right to a safe, healthy future recognized and realized in years to come.

Abby Maxman is President and CEO Oxfam America.

IPS UN Bureau