Anti-Corruption Views - Launching a “global-local” anti-corruption network in Mongolia

I recently had the opportunity to co-facilitate and present at an anti-corruption meeting in Mongolia that brought together leading players from business, civil society and government agencies. The initial idea to have the meeting came from the Office of the President of Mongolia, which is keen to improve Mongolia’s image from a governance standpoint and make the country an attractive investment destination.

According to the latest Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International, Mongolia ranks 116th out of 178 countries in terms of level and impact of corruption.

At the meeting, the aim was to explore ways in which the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) could support the private sector in Mongolia in a process backed by the Mongolian Government and local non-governmental organizations to improve local corporate governance standards across sectors.

This meeting was part of a larger PACI plan to create replicable and scalable models for harnessing the collective power of the private sector to fight corruption at the country level, working within the context of a public-private partnership.

After the three-day meeting, we came away with a clear commitment to initiate a local anti-corruption network in Mongolia, driven by the private sector with strong multistakeholder support, as a pilot project.

The idea is to have a strong nucleus of leading companies in Mongolia commit to adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption and to implement a world-class corporate anti-corruption programme modelled on a framework developed by PACI. The network will be self-policing, and participation in the network will be taken into account by governmental agencies in the award of tenders for public contracts. Civil society will ideally play an oversight role to ensure the credibility of the network.

Corruption is all over the news all the time, and most businesses are acutely aware of the impact of corruption on the cost of doing business globally, which is currently estimated at up to 10%. These statistics represent a formidable obstacle to the socio-economic development of many countries, with total bribes paid in 2003 estimated at least US$ 1 trillion.

Until now, most anti-corruption initiatives have been global in nature. A worldwide effort across countries and industries coordinated through global anti-corruption initiatives such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption for the public sector and PACI for the private sector are clearly necessary.

That said, with the emergence of strong national chambers of commerce in many countries as well as substantial resource flows within countries with the potential to support high levels of in-country corruption, more needs to be done to support the development of country-based, private sector driven anti-corruption networks. Furthermore, these networks need to be closely linked with the global anti-corruption initiatives.

I am very excited about the initiation of this project because I only see great things to come. First, joining local and national anti-corruption networks with global initiatives will offer smaller organizations the credibility they need to attract a critical mass of leading local companies, while at the same time retaining local ownership of the corporate anti-corruption fight to ensure a high level of local engagement.

Second, the approach provides local companies with the tools they need to upgrade their own corporate anti-corruption programmes and further enables them to take advantage of world-class anti-corruption expertise by joining a global corporate network.

Finally, the integrated approach enables local companies to effectively and collectively engage with other key stakeholders, for example governmental agencies, to develop solutions to corruption.

We have high hopes for this project and are confident that key lessons and valuable models for other countries and global anti-corruption initiatives will soon follow. Ending corruption will not happen if only one company, one industry or one country takes the initiative. The fight against corruption requires the collective action and partnership of every player, at every level. What we have recently accomplished in Mongolia is just one more step in the long march towards a corruption-free world.

Arthur Wasunna is the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative project manager and a Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum. PACI is a global multi-sector, anti-corruption initiative established by CEOs to level the playing field among industries and help consolidate anti-corruption efforts. PACI brings together more than 160 companies to fight bribery and corruption.



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