The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) takes a strong stand on anti-corruption

Written by Fiona Meyer. Fiona is responsible for promoting the use of water integrity tools & methodologies within the Water Integrity Network.

The German government has made a strong statement to promote anti-corruption activities as instrumental to the success of economic cooperation and development. In order to integrate anti-corruption initatives into their work, the BMZ has launched its anti-corruption strategic paper for German development policies in Berlin, Germany on the 13th of June. WIN was invited to present its work to the audience of the forum.  The presentation of the concept at the policy forum was accompanied by several panel discussions and a ‘market of opportunities’- an exhibition forum for organisations involved in anti-corruption work. The Water Integrity Network was given the opportunity to display examples of solutions for increased integrity in the water sector. Besides presenters such as Transparency International Germany and Open Aid there was a strong GIZ and BMZ presence at the forum.

The anti-corruption concept presented by the BMZ foresees three different levels of intervention in anti-corruption initiatives in German development cooperation. The actors that engage in anti-corruption work, including governmental institutions, the private sector and civil society interacting within the area of compliance and risk management, on the level of country engagement and in the context of international agreements and conventions.

The policy forum was officially opened by a short BMZ film that showed how important anti-corruption work is in development cooperation. In the various panel discussions that followed, representatives from civil society, governmental institutions and the private sector discussed the necessary frameworks required to jointly prevent and combat corruption in the different levels of engagement within development cooperation. Cobus de Swardt, executive director of Transparency International congratulated the BMZ on the concept and reminded that momentum has been created for such an initiative. De Swardt added that the success of the anti-corruption strategy will depend on the next steps and the practical implementation of the concept. Participants from the private sector also welcomed the initiative by the BMZ pointing out that the private sector repeatedly faces the challenges of insufficient legal and political guidance and support regarding corrupt practices in international businesses relations. The representative from the private sector shared his experience with the audience by illustrating how his company traditionally offers presents to the host of an international business meeting abroad. When does such a present fall under the realm of bribery? Cobus De Swardt offered a simple answer: If the company does not feel comfortable with the media covering the meeting and mentioning the business present , one may not be actually talking about a present – but about a bribe.

This discussing clearly underlines the important role of strong, independent media, capable institutions and an engaged civil society in creating accountability mechanisms within our society. As with every creative, innovative and important initiative, the success of the anti-corruption concept presented last week by the BMZ will now clearly depend on how effectively the strategy can be implemented in practice.

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