New Year Message from TI
2013 was a special year for all involved in Transparency International. We celebrated the dedicated people who met in The Hague twenty years ago to create an organisation that would fight corruption.
Corruption continues to devastate people’s lives. When a thousand garment workers died after a factory in Bangladesh collapsed, it was a tragic reminder that corruption leads to poor quality construction or safety checks being neglected, and that corruption can kill. Courage is instrumental in combatting corruption. On the day of our 20th anniversary conference, we recognised the courage of Integrity Award winners Luo Changping and Rafael Marques.
Many of our Chapters, along with our colleagues in wider civil society, face intolerable threats to their daily operations. We remain determined to stand in solidarity with our colleagues who face pressure in the course of their duties.
Sadly, we lost one of our colleagues from Transparency International Rwanda in tragic circumstances. Gustave Sharangabo Makonene worked in one of our Anti-Corruption Legal Advice Centers in Western Rwanda. He was murdered on the night of 17 July on his way home after he left the office. The loss of a second colleague, Yves Nyirinkwaya, who died from illness over this holiday period, makes this a challenging time for TI-Rwanda. Colleagues, our thoughts are with you.
Our movement has come a long way in those twenty years, as the events of 2013 show. We have been working with international organisations to push reforms: the G20, the B20, the C20, and the OECD. The G20 has taken a leading role in international efforts to combat corruption.
For the first time ever, a forum of civil society groups was held in the framework of the G20. Transparency International was co-chair of the C20’s anti-corruption working group.
At the Saint Petersburg Summit, the G20 also adopted an action plan to enhance tax transparency. The UK presided over the G8 this year promising to seek a “transparency revolution”. True to their word, they became the first country to act on beneficial ownership in October.
There was also progress on the automatic exchange of tax information and wide adoption of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting plan. After a decade of efforts to bring more transparency to the management of natural resources, we now have laws on the books requiring country-by-country reporting in the EU. We congratulate the EU office for their tireless efforts to push for this rule, and all of you who took part in this campaign down the years. After years of being told that we should settle for voluntary standards, transparency is now the law for many of the world’s big oil, gas, mining and logging companies. The need for transparency, accountability and integrity was also recognised in development circles in 2013. In September, we held a meeting at the UN General Assembly to further the cause for a more central role for anti-corruption in efforts to end poverty once the Millennium Development Goals end in 2015. Our efforts have been largely successful. Both the UN Secretary General’s report in August and the UN high level panel’s recommendations in May on the future of development called for a governance goal. Such progress must have been hard to imagine back in the early days of TI, when many thought TI’s efforts were naïve and quixotic.
Today, however, the need for our values and principles throughout public life cannot be ignored. This year the financial sector continued to be beset by scandal, with dozens of major companies facing legal action for misleading investors, money laundering or rigging markets. The spotlight is very much on big companies and their use of complex structures and offshore accounts. In our latest report on Transparency in Corporate Reporting, we assessed the transparency of multinationals from emerging markets for the first time. Meanwhile, nine Chapters are preparing local Transparency in Corporate Reporting reports covering approximately 280 companies. The revision of our business principles, first created ten years ago, will ensure they remain at the cutting edge of corporate sustainability.
Our research continues to push the boundary in new fields. We launched the latest edition of the Global Corruption Report in Budapest. Also launched was a new stream of work on education, through the Global Transparency Education Network. We launched our first project on match-fixing in sport and made recommendations for reforming the governance of cricket.
In 2013, the Helpdesk answered 151 questions in 2013; 91 from the TI movement. It produced 106 fully developed anti-corruption briefs, ranging from good practice in access to information laws, to assets declaration and to countries that have established legislative footprints.
Our movement is proving adept at adapting our experience to offer solutions on the big issues of the day.
The adaptation of our National Integrity System to the local level will give us a powerful tool to identify corruption problems on the front line and work with local authorities to find solutions that have a big impact on daily life.
Last year we had reminders that some will fight back to keep anti-corruption efforts at bay. While Brussels recorded a great victory with the passing of new EU rules making the extractive sector more transparent, in Washington DC lobbyists won a court case against similar US rules.
As we look to the next twenty years, a rapidly growing population, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in emerging economies, threats like climate change, pressure on natural resources, rising economic inequality and youth unemployment and the risk of new financial crises, a lot needs to change in our societies. We can have every reason to believe that Transparency International can play a role in making change happen.
Let us take encouragement from the findings of the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, when two in three around the globe believe that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. We hear this message from young people loud and clear, whether through global essay, video and photo competitions or summer schools, hackathons and other activities.
Helping people to act constructively on their desire for change will be a major priority for us, thanks to the work of many of you in preparing the campaign to stop impunity for the corrupt that will be launched next year. On anti-corruption day, activities in many countries were a vivid reminder of the power of our message to mobilise people.
The basic vision of the signatories of our founding charter twenty years ago was that we can have the greatest impact when we work together as a movement. We must continue to strive to finds ways to make a difference.
At the beginning of 2014, as we wish you and your families well, we also want to express our profound appreciation for your contribution to the movement. We look forward to continuing the fight against corruption with you in the year ahead.
Huguette Labelle Akere Muna Cobus de Swardt
Chair Vice-Chair Managing Director