Seeking to put an end to the misery, alienation and instability that corruption breeds, the 13th IACC closed with a call, in the Athens Agenda, the final conference communiqué, to address corruption, to strengthen financial, environmental and natural resources governance and enable equitable development.
“In the spirit of ethical inquiry and justice, the global anti-corruption community today sets forth with delegates returning to their countries, rich and poor, carrying ideas, tools and practical solutions to prevent and stop corruption,” said the Honourable Justice Barry O’Keefe, Chair of the IACC Council on the conclusion of the conference. “It is imperative that governments, business and civil society work together to fight corruption to ensure a cleaner, healthier and fairer world”, added O’Keefe.
The 13th IACC brought together more than 1300 participants from 135 countries who, in the closing statement of the conference, recognised the central role of transparency and accountability in mitigating the current financial crisis and preventing future failures. During the four-day IACC, participants explored how corruption undermines all facets of sustainability: fostering conflict and violence, distorting natural resource exploitation; aggravating climate change and hampering our response to it; and deepening global inequalities.
Inter-disciplinary cooperation was identified as a priority for the anti-corruption movement, with the recognition that the linkages between corruption and climate change, and corruption and human rights needed to be more fully explored and integrated.
Participants also recognised the long-term importance to the anti-corruption movement’s work of the UN Convention against Corruption as the global, comprehensive anti-corruption framework for preventing and combating corruption was recognised, as well as the urgent need need to spur political will for ratification and the review mechanism.
The need for greater civil society engagement on issues ranging from asset recovery to political finance was echoed by many and governments were therefore called upon to ensure the space and the freedom for civil society to operate. Civil society was also called on to bolster its own governance.
The global financial crisis was an omnipresent factor in many of the conference’s discussions. There was concern that the crisis poses a threat as companies seek to cut costs and governments scale back development assistance, further burdening the poorest countries. But it was also seen as presenting opportunities for the anti-corruption movement, in terms of a closer focus on corporate governance and financial regulation, particularly on a global scale. Above all, commitments were made to do the utmost to prevent the financial crisis from undermining progress made in the fight against corruption. The Athens Agenda noted that if the anticorruption movement is to remain relevant and effective, that it must recognise diversity, the role of power structures and mechanisms of exclusion. Furthermore, efforts must be made to reach and mobilise people from all quarters, and from all age groups.
The reality that corruption harms all people and ultimately all communities, but that the poorest bear the greatest burden, was echoed throughout the conference. And their sustainable livelihoods were recognised as being the first priority, starting with endeavours to give them a stronger voice. Informed and empowered citizens are the most powerful tools against corruption.
The declaration concludes that, “on a global scale, our fates are intimately linked.” As they returned to their home countries, participants committed themselves “fervently to fighting corruption in order to guarantee our common sustainable future, so that we can hand coming generations a cleaner, healthier and fairer world than the one we inherited.”
The full text of the Athens Agenda is available at: 13iacc.org/en/IACC/Conference_Agenda
From conference newsletter IACC Today, 3 November 2008