The Commonwealth has announced the start of informal consultations on an important set of benchmarks designed to help governments tackle corruption.
Senior legal officials meeting in London this week were presented with the Commonwealth’s ongoing work to develop a package of minimum standards, which countries can use as a ‘checklist’ to measure their own anti-corruption practices and make improvements if needed.
Delegates welcomed the benchmark approach and requested the Secretariat to carry out a consultation process for all member countries.
Twenty core issues are covered in the benchmark framework, including anti-corruption laws, the judiciary, investigation and prosecution authorities, public sector procurement procedures, and independent project monitoring and auditing. Freedom of speech and of the news media, the role of civil society, and organisational anti-bribery systems will also be examined.
Matthew Moorhead, legal adviser at the Commonwealth, said: “The upcoming consultations with stakeholders will look at the many forms corruption can take, and the many places it can appear. Discussions will provide countries with the opportunity to share their own practical experiences and good practices for preventing corruption.”
The proposed benchmarks, developed in close cooperation with national standards institutions and professional membership bodies, were first unveiled at the 8th Commonwealth Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa in May 2018.
Reflecting international best practice, they specify actions that can be taken to combat corruption, both in the public and private sector, as well as success stories from governments and organisations as case studies.
Chairing a side event at the meeting of Senior Officials of Law Ministries (SOLM) this week, Colin Nicholls QC described the benchmarks as an important advocacy tool to encourage Commonwealth countries to adopt high standards of good governance.
“This event is the next step, leading to an informal consultation with member countries over the next two years to refine the benchmarks,” he said. “This work is to be completed in time for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda in 2020.”
The benchmarks are the latest in a series of key initiatives by the Commonwealth to strengthen anti-corruption measures in member countries, building on the Framework for Commonwealth Principles on Promoting Good Governance and Combating Corruption adopted in 2000, the establishment of the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre in 2013, and the ‘Tackling Corruption Together’ international conference hosted by the Commonwealth in 2016.