Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department for International Development


  1.  The collaborative plan agreed by the Utstein partners is below. It should be noted that this is a working document, subject to change in consultation with our Utstein partners. The dates cited in the action plan are approximate and are for planning purposes only.

  2.  The Declaration on Anti-Corruption issued by Utstein Development Ministers in May 2000, to which reference is made in the plan, also follows.


  1.  International Development Ministers of the Utstein Group, meeting in The Hague in May 2000, declared their commitment to concerted action to reduce the damaging effects of corruption on development, and their readiness to collaborate with those who share this commitment, in governments, civil society and the private sector, and other development agencies, both multilateral and bilateral.

  2.  This action plan has been developed to turn this commitment into practice. The detailed actions it contains are intended to contribute to four strategic objectives:

To strengthen the international framework for combating corruption

  3.  The Utstein group (U4) strongly supports the international framework established by the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to combat corruption in business transactions. We want to see effective implementation of the Convention leading to a reduction in international business-related corruption. To contribute to this, we will work domestically to ensure that the Convention's provisions are fully known to the business community. Internationally, we want to encourage the replication of the principles of the Convention in other regions, by promoting regional approaches. The Secretariat of the OECD also needs to be strengthened to support further analysis of "horizontal" issues, and outreach to non-members.

  4.  The U4 also strongly supports, and wants to see strengthened, the regime created by the Financial Action Task Force to deter money laundering. We want to encourage further efforts at regional level to build on this achievement. Better corporate governance and regulation of financial sectors, particularly in transitional and middle income countries, are also vital elements of the battle against corruption. We want to contribute to international efforts to improve corporate standards.

  5.  The planned UN Convention on Corruption offers the opportunity to create an overarching international framework for all anti-corruption efforts. We aim to play an active role in the negotiating process.

To support developing countries committed to combating corruption

  6.  The U4 are pledged to strengthen partnerships with those developing countries which are committed to combating corruption. We will increase bilateral financial support and work with other bilateral and multilateral agencies to increase the quantum of resources applied to anti-corruption work.

  7.  The U4 recognise the burden which uncoordinated donor activity imposes on developing countries. We want to develop better ways of working. Where practicable, we want to develop programmes jointly, pool resources and harmonise procedural requirements. This includes encouraging collaborative working with other bilateral and multilateral agencies.

  8.  We also want to help to strengthen developing countries' own systems, for example in financial management, procurement, accounting and audit, and contribute to increasing the momentum for reform by fostering parliamentary, civil society and private sector efforts. Helping to ensure that anti-corruption is embedded within poverty reduction strategies will be a major objective.

To strengthen development agencies' systems

  9.  The U4 development agencies recognise the need to strengthen their internal systems, both to respond to the changing forms of development assistance and to build better defences against corruption in development assistance programmes.

  10.  We envisage a number of specific areas of action: to strengthen financial oversight of through joint approaches; to develop new forms of financial control appropriate to emerging budgetary and sector-wide approaches; to deal more vigorously with corruption in procurement; to increase transparency; and to improve our own technical capacity to assist in developing anti-corruption programmes, including regular reviews of the quality of our anti-corruption contributions.

To learn from experience and communicate those lessons more widely

  11.  The U4 believe that an important outcome of their collaboration should be a better drawing together of past experiences and a pooling of knowledge and expertise. To this end, they will establish a joint resource centre on anti-corruption, organised on-line to maximise external access. We will look to encourage and bind into similar regional initiatives to develop a global network of knowledge. We want also to explore avenues to broaden and give better structure to collaboration between donors. The governance network of the OECD Development Assistance Committee may be a suitable forum.

  12.  We believe that measuring and tracking corruption is an essential component of anti-corruption strategies, especially to monitor progress, demonstrate success and understand trends. Capacity for monitoring corruption needs to be institutionalised within national authorities. We want to support such efforts. We also want to support efforts to synthesise, on a global basis, experiences, successes and trends, both as a contribution to the knowledge stock and as an advocacy tool to sustain momentum for further endeavour.

Turning the Plan into Action

  13.  This action plan will determine the priorities of the Utstein partners in anti-corruption work. Central contact points in each partner HQ will co-ordinate regularly to oversee implementation, and commitments will be reviewed and updated regularly. Programme managers in developing countries where Utstein partners are present will also collaborate in line with the objectives of this plan. Progress will be reviewed regularly by the Utstein Ministers.


Our Goal

  We, the International Development Ministers of the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom, are committed to reducing the damaging effects of corruption on development. We are ready to work with those who share our commitment, in governments, civil society and the private sector, and the other development agencies, both multilateral and bilateral.

The Problem

  2.  Corruption occurs in all regions of the world but it is particularly harmful to developing countries because they are already the most vulnerable. Corruption diverts scarce resources from development, deters investment and retards economic growth. Corruption undermines democratic political systems and is a barrier to the delivery of basic services and the provision of security to the poor.

  3.  These consequences of corruption are no longer disputed. There is a widening recognition that effective action against corruption is required if the world is to make progress in the urgent task of eradicating poverty and, in particular, if the International Development Targets for 2015 are to be achieved.

  4.  Developed countries have also acknowledged that it is not only social, institutional and economic conditions in the developing countries that facilitate corruption, but also much grand corruption in developing countries has its origin in trade with developed countries and is facilitated by the laundering through the international financial systems of money obtained through corruption. Globalisation and increasing interdependence mean that all countries need to bear down on corruption worldwide.

Our Approach

  5.  Primary responsibility for combating corruption belongs to the government, civil society and the private sector of the countries concerned. We attach a high priority to supporting those in developing and transitional countries who are committed to action and to encouraging them to work collaboratively.

  6.  In providing our support, the Utstein partners will accordingly adopt a collaborative style in order to reduce the administrative burden on developing countries and to increase the effectiveness of their efforts. We are working towards supporting common policies, and jointly harmonising our procedures and to working towards providing joint funding and shared programme management. These efforts can be extended to include other like-minded donor countries.

  7.  Our aim is also to join with other like-minded development agencies in pursuing the objective of combating corruption. We wish to work with the United Nations system, regional development banks and our fellow bilateral development agencies. We attach particular importance to working with the IMF and the World Bank, whose President, James Wolfensohn, has given a lead in mobilising development efforts against corruption. The Comprehensive Development Framework and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers provide a policy framework within which anti-corruption efforts can be effectively pursued.

  8.  In our own countries, we will work to promote development objectives in international trade and financial policy. We will collaborate with our private sectors to promote responsible business practices and partnerships with the other stakeholders. We will encourage mutually supportive links between civil society on a North/South and South/South basis.

  9.  In order to improve our understanding of anti-corruption policies and to define our vision of the way ahead, the Government of the Netherlands organised a Working Conference on Combating Corruption in Maastricht between 25 and 27 April 2000. Attached is the organiser's report of the expert conference including the working groups' recommendations. The next step in our efforts should be to further elaborate the Plan of Action.

  10.  Having considered these proposals, we, the International Development Ministers, plan to take the following action.

Priorities for Action

  11.  We will provide programmes of support to governments in developing countries and to those in transition, committed to reform and combating corruption. The objective will be to help these countries generate political support for reform, develop technical capability and secure financial resources for governance so that they can develop and implement anti-corruption policies. We will provide this support on a collaborative basis with one Utstein partner taking the lead in each country on behalf of the other partners. We will work wherever possible in collaboration with the World Bank and other like-minded agencies. Plans for such collaboration are now in hand.

  12.  This will include support for the system of checks and balances provided by civil society, the media, the judiciary and legislatures as well as support for achieving high standards of corporate governance in the private sector. All these actors are especially important for building a constituency for reform where governments lack commitment. We will continue to provide support to these actors therefore, even where we feel unable to operate through government because of its lack of commitment.

  13.  To reinforce our cooperation and learning, we will establish a virtual expert centre. Its function will be to co-ordinate our anti-corruption activities, to develop networks of non-governmental actors committed to combating corruption, to identify sources of expertise in our countries, to exchange expert information and to undertake research.

  14.  We will encourage developing country governments to ensure that all Poverty Reduction Strategies Papers (PRSP) address governance and corruption issues. We welcome the inclusion of governance in the World Bank's guidelines for PRSPs. We are ready to collaborate with all concerned to include a clear focus on anti-corruption policies and plans within PRSP guidance and programmes.

  15.  We will work within our own Governments to ensure that the legal requirements of the OECD Convention on the bribery of foreign officials are implemented fully. We will seek ways to strengthen the capacity of the OECD Secretariat to monitor implementation of the Convention and to raise awareness of the Convention in the business community so that they adopt effective codes of corporate conduct. We will support, where necessary, for the efforts of the OECD Financial Action Task Force, to extend anti money-laundering networks to Africa and Asia.

  16.  We are ready to support the strengthening of financial management and procurement systems in developing countries where several Utstein partners are engaged and to harmonise our own approaches to procurement. This harmonisation can be expanded to other like-minded donor countries. There will be many cases where such strengthening of financial and procurement systems is a prerequisite for channeling more development assistance on a sectoral or budgetary basis in support of developing country policies. In order to support action by multilateral development agencies to combat corruption in their procurement processes, we are also ready to consider action in accordance with our laws, against our national companies that have been blacklisted by the multilateral agencies because of corrupt activities. This presupposes however, transparent processes and the possibility of legal protection for the companies concerned.


  17.  We believe that a commitment to combating corruption is a necessary basis for an effective development relationship. We have adopted the measures outlined above to help us fulfil our responsibilities for combating corruption in development. We welcome the views of our partners and peers on our plans. We repeat our invitation to governments, civil society and the private sector and to other development agencies to join us in a collaborative approach to this vital enterprise which will best serve the interests of all of us.


  1.  DFID is not currently involved in work with the judiciary in Cambodia. At present, the Royal Government of Cambodia is not inclined to release executive authority over the judiciary. In these circumstances, DFID, along with other donors, are unable to engage in meaningful ways. The World Bank has conducted diagnostic studies, and identified areas for reform. We, along with our donor partners, will continue to seek opportunities to assist as and when the environment allows.

Department for International Development

March 2001

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