Promoting transparency and accountability. Striving for sustainable development. Preventing corruption in sports. Ensuring political transitions lead to good governance. These were among the goals discussed this month in Brasilia, Brazil, as over 1900 participants from 140 countries gathered for the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC).
The largest multi-stakeholder meeting in the world focused on combating corruption, the IACC is a biennial forum where government officials and representatives from nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, development agencies, and the private sector gather to exchange knowledge, evaluate progress, and collectively devise innovative ways to more effectively promote integrity and fight corruption. This year's IACC also placed a special emphasis on preventing and combating corruption by mobilizing and connecting "agents of change."
As a first-time IACC attendee, I was struck by the sense of community that existed among the diverse group of participants and by the centrality given to civil society throughout the plenary and break-out sessions. It was also inspiring and sobering to be surrounded by so many people who have dedicated their lives to combating corruption and demanding justice, some at great personal risk and in the face of ongoing hostility.
Combatting corruption is a priority for the United States as corruption is a barrier to economic growth and hurts American businesses; fuels transnational crime, illicit trade, and terrorism; undermines global development and poverty reduction efforts; and corrodes the pillars of free and accountable societies. As stated by Secretary Clinton, "Corruption not only erodes the trust and confidence that citizens hold in one another and in their governments, it also robs citizens and governments of resources that could be invested in a brighter future."
Much work remains to be done in the fight against corruption. But the IACC reminded all participants that much progress has been achieved over the past 20 years -- corruption is no longer a taboo word; world leaders recognize the importance of combating corruption; and 164 countries have now ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which provides the global community with universal anti-corruption norms and a framework for international cooperation. Moreover, the IACC reminded all participants that a dedicated community of activists, policymakers, and technical experts are committed to working together to achieve the many goals discussed in Brasilia.
You can view more information about the IACC and podcasts of all the sessions here.