Hosted by the Republic of Korea, the 19th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) was held virtually for the very first time, as the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging around the world.
While we have not been able to gather in person, the virtual conference brought together over seven thousand participants from 135 countries and territories, representing civil society, governments, multilateral agencies, media, academia, the arts, the private sector and concerned citizens.
Over six days and more than 130 sessions, the conference has shown that, across national borders, those who work to end corruption face similar challenges. It has also highlighted many anti-corruption successes around the world. In doing so, we have shared ideas, experiences and strategies; we have forged alliances; and we have identified new approaches that promise to result in greater progress against corruption.
Wherever we look around the world, the criminal and corrupt never cease to undermine the common good. As the deadly proliferation of corruption during the COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows, there is much still to do to achieve our common objective of designing a future based on equity.
Supporting the theme and objectives of the 19th IACC: Designing 2030: Trust, Truth & Transparency we declare that:
- As a movement, we will leave this conference stronger and more determined to hold power to account, to expand civil society space, defend media freedoms and stand up for whistleblowers, and to ensure social and economic justice everywhere.
- COVID-19 has overshadowed this conference, and corruption has flourished during the pandemic. We now have an opportunity to make more resilient, more transparent and better-performing health systems the legacy of COVID-19.
- Nine months after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, promising vaccines are on the verge of rollout. The same devastating lack of transparency in public contracting and the misuse of COVID-19 funds that we’ve seen during the pandemic cannot be allowed to undermine the purchase and distribution of vaccines. We must fight to ensure fair and equitable access to the vaccines and a just economic recovery, everywhere, leaving no one behind.
- Corruption harms every single one of us. It is why our cause unites people from all walks of life, whether global leaders or grass root activists, but especially young people seeking ways to fight for their own future. Young people are taking the initiative themselves, we must support them.
- We know corruption disproportionately affects women, the poor, the marginalised and the disenfranchised. We will seek to build new alliances to address gendered forms of corruption, including amongst LGBTQIA+ communities; and we will join those seeking to dismantle the systemic discrimination that allows corruption to hit under-served communities, including ethnic minorities, the hardest.
- We have witnessed the rise of authoritarianism and populism, global trends that have dramatically eroded democratic norms across the world. As the trust in the independence of institutions has been undermined, impunity has increased. We must work to ensure democratic norms are upheld, expanded and defended.
- We condemn the actions taken against activists, investigative journalists and whistleblowers who are routinely intimidated, threatened and killed for exposing corruption and injustice as a result.
- The power of Big Tech and the social media giants continues to be harnessed by those who seek to spread fake news and conspiracy theories that fuel hate, division and fear. Truth, trust and transparency, and the loss of privacy, are the victims. Human rights violations, social injustice and environmental crimes just some of the results.
- We are also encouraged by the growing consensus around the need for central registers of companies’ beneficial ownership. This is the result of relentless civil society pressure and the work towards building coalitions from across sectors.
- We will forge alliances across sectors to counter corruption that stretches across national borders, and end impunity for professional enablers of money laundering and other financial crimes. The opportunity to address the types of corruption with most victims – grand corruption – and impunity for it is offered by the first-ever UN General Assembly Special Session against Corruption. This is a milestone that cannot be missed
- Now more than ever, our role as a global movement is vital in restoring and enhancing global norms in the fight against corruption.
We thank the government and people of Korea for hosting and supporting the 19th IACC, especially under the difficult circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognise Korea’s resilience and strong commitment to the IACC and the anti-corruption movement.
We thank the delegates and look forward to adopting the 19th IACC outcomes as our guiding principles for the road we now begin: Building the future we want. Towards a 2030 of trust, truth and transparency.
The time to act is now.