Governments must embrace the role of charities in tackling corruption

12 May 2016

Commenting on the UK Anti-Corruption summit taking place in London today, the Charities Aid Foundation’s International Policy Manager Adam Pickering said:

“As government officials and finance professionals meet at the global anti-corruption summit orchestrated by Prime Minister David Cameron, they should be thinking not just about how to protect charities from exposure to corruption, but about how charities can help to combat it.

“Around the world charities play a crucial role in exposing corruption, scrutinising business deals, revealing vested interests and holding the powerful to account when the rule of law fails. Voluntary organisations also play a big part in addressing the conditions under which corruption thrives.

“The Prime Minister clearly recognises the important role charities play in tackling corruption, however this fits awkwardly with his government’s proposed anti-advocacy clause - which would be inserted into its contracts with charities to ensure that public funds would not be used to “lobby” government. Preventing charities which deliver public services from being able to present data or recommend policy changes risks undermining their ability to expose corrupt practices.

“Tackling corruption is about much more than simply increasing regulatory powers; and in some cases this can actually do more harm than good. We have already seen that increased compliance costs for banks as a result of anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CTF) directives can make it more difficult for banks to offer a service to charities engaging in controversial cause areas or operating in insecure regions of the world.

“A vibrant civil society in which charities are able to hold big business and politicians to account is a vital weapon in the fight against corruption. Today’s corruption summit must work to ensure that the very regulation designed to combat corruption does not emasculate the very institutions which seek to address it.”

Note to Editors:

In a speech in Singapore on the 28th July 2015 where he announced today's summit David Cameron offered to give more support to “civil society […] who are working to fight corruption”.
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