The 20th International Anti-Corruption Conference took place from 6-10 December 2022 in Washington DC. After around 90 sessions, hours of deliberations, and much discussion, the participants resolved to unite in solidarity against corruption. This resolve was published on 12 December as the Washington Declaration. Read it below:
We, more than 2 000 people in person and more than 1 000 online from 126 countries and all sectors and walks of life, gathered for the 20th IACC. We came together sharing a sense of urgency and purpose. We have reaffirmed that we are united and that our collective actions are vital to respond to the global challenges we face, for the future we want.
We reaffirmed that by strengthening our alliances, we will be able to confront the growing corruption threats: from the rise of kleptocracy and authoritarianism to the climate crisis; from the corrupt driven political decisions to the growing violations of people’s basic rights.
We identified that as we grapple to recover from the social and economic consequences from the pandemic, existing and emerging conflicts across the globe, bring to light how deeply rooted corruption is, and how it threatens global peace, security, welfare, and the lives of innocent people.
We acknowledged the urgency to re-double our efforts and to demand the effective implementation of commitments and promises made over so many years.
During these four days of deliberations and debates we identified new ways to root out corruption and promote more accountability, integrity and transparency around the globe.
Facing both crisis and opportunity, in support of this year’s conference theme, Uprooting Corruption, Defending Democratic Values, we therefore declare that:
- Fighting corruption is vital to defending democratic values. Global corruption and its impunity are one of the prime sources of the multitude of problems affecting the poorest and most vulnerable countries, and communities across the globe. States must restore and strengthen institutional checks and balances on power among executive authorities, legislatures, and courts, as well as through appropriate independent oversight bodies, ensuring government transparency, and protecting media freedoms. Governments should be responsive to the people, and public institutions and civil society must both be vigilant in preventing authoritarian overreach. Only when government institutions are transparent, responsive, and accountable will democracy prevail over authoritarianism.
- Trust in institutions must be restored. Many countries are plagued with grand corruption and state capture, weakening legislative and regulatory powers and oversight and enforcement functions. We need to work harder to ensure that politicians are more accountable, and that civil society is capable to detect, expose and counter undue influence by corrupt interests. States must also commit to ending impunity for illicit money in politics.
- Anti-corruption fighters must be protected. Those who speak out and expose corruption are in more danger than ever. We welcome the initiatives to provide more support to anti-corruption fighters across the globe, but this is not enough. Civil society, governments, and international bodies must recognise anti-corruption fighters as human rights defenders, especially those speaking up in dangerous environments. Governments must also roll back restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly to ensure that civil society and the media can speak freely and hold power to account.
- Global security is under threat more than ever. We condemn how kleptocracies increasingly create regional and national humanitarian crises. From Russia’s invasion to Ukraine, to the civil war in Syria, to the crisis in Ethiopia and The Sahel, to name a few. Governments must urgently end the use of their financial systems as safe havens for the proceeds of corruption to stop kleptocrats and enablers who facilitate the flow of dirty and blood tainted money.
- Just recovery from the pandemic should be corruption free. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development continues to be key in coping with rising inequalities and the unparalleled impacts of the pandemic. Governments must abide by their pledges to include anti-corruption safeguards in public procurement and be transparent in their public spending.
- Anti-corruption efforts must respond to gender inequality. Gender Corruption, including sextortion, hinders progress towards gender equality and violates human rights. Gender perspectives should be mainstreamed in anti-corruption public policy design, implementation and monitoring to be effective.
- Environmental corruption must be countered. Massive investments are being made to address the climate crisis. The international community must work towards ensuring that these are not lost to corruption, including by supporting the engagement of civil society and local communities. A zero tolerance of corruption must be implemented.
- Human trafficking and organised crime must be tackled. Corruption and greed allow human trafficking networks to enjoy impunity and continue to harm innocent people. Governments, the private sector, and international organisations must re-double their efforts and work together to engaging with and protect civil society and take decisive actions against criminal networks and those who protect them.
- Unscrupulous enablers must be stopped. Greed drives the insatiable, and often corrupt, pursuit of wealth, money and power. The enablers who willingly facilitate save havens for the corrupt and their illegally obtained wealth must be subject to heightened scrutiny and accountability, especially those who operate in luxury and dark markets.
- The private sector must be brought into the fold. While many companies have improved corporate governance and compliance, too many remain major contributors to the world’s corruption pandemic. We urge all companies to take a zero-tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption, including publishing the identity of the real beneficial owners of their companies and subsidiaries.
- Technology should be leveraged, where appropriate, to strengthen the fight against corruption. Governments should enhance digital governance and regulatory mechanisms based on the principles of transparency, accountability and integrity, including for artificial intelligence, blockchain and distributed ledger technology, and big data.
The key to success is collective action. There are no unsurmountable obstacles for this brave and committed anti-corruption community. Together we will prevail.