The presidents of Afghanistan, Colombia and Nigeria will join US Secretary of State John Kerry at an anti-corruption summit in London next week, which British leader David Cameron said Sunday will make the issue a global priority.
The prime minister wants those attending Thursday’s day-long summit to sign the “first ever declaration against corruption” that would acknowledge the damage it causes and commit them to tackling it.
“For too long there has been a taboo about tackling this issue head on. The summit will change that. Together we will push the fight against corruption to the top of the international agenda where it belongs,” Cameron said. Issues under discussion will include how to “lift the lid on practices that allow the corrupt to act with impunity”, he said in a statement released by Downing Street. Nigerian President Muhammadu Bahari, Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani and their Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos will be among those attending, as will Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and the head of advocacy group Transparency International, Jose Ugaz, are also expected.
Russia’s foreign ministry announced it would be sending deputy foreign minister Oleg Syromolotov. The summit will also address corruption in sport, with representatives of sports committees, believed to include football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA, due to attend. Cameron said corruption was the “root of so many of the world’s problems”, from holding back economic growth to undermining security “by pushing people towards extremist groups”.
“The battle against corruption will not be won overnight. It will take time, courage and determination to deliver the reforms that are necessary,” he said. Since the G8 summit in 2013, Cameron has led international calls to tackle aggressive tax avoidance and evasion and global corruption, and is hoping to build on the momentum for change sparked by revelations from the Panama Papers.
But campaigners have warned the British leader must also act on issues within his own jurisdiction, namely the secrecy of British tax havens and the way anonymous money flows through the London property market. The publication of millions of files from Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca revealed the large-scale use by wealthy individuals and firms of anonymous companies to evade scrutiny, many of them in British overseas territories. Cameron’s late father was named in the files for an investment fund he had set up in the Bahamas in the late 1980s, but the premier insisted he had done nothing wrong.