Accountable and effective institutions

Principles for Donor Action on Anti-Corruption



The DAC has been concerned with corruption for over a decade, with work undertaken on strengthening donors’ efforts in aid-funded procurement in particular. However, a 2003 GOVNET report concluded that donors had made little progress in addressing corruption in the field. Limited capacity, competing priorities and piecemeal approaches constrained any strategic impact at the field level, beyond one or two well known small-scale examples.

At the same time, the context in which donors operate has changed. Donor-driven perspectives have given way to approaches that place donors in a role that supports developing countries’ own anticorruption  efforts. International co-operation and understanding of corruption have advanced, with a number of initiatives promoting more coherent frameworks for addressing corruption. And the prospects of very significant increases of aid—possibly an additional $50 billion per year by 2010 and beyond have raised the stakes for both donors and partner countries. Stronger governance and anti-corruption provisions, accountability and financial management capacity will be needed both by recipients and donors.

Principles for Donor Action on Anti-Corruption
In response to these developments, a Partnership Forum on Improving Donor Effectiveness in Combating Corruption took place in December 2004. Draft Principles for Donor Action in Anti- Corruption were developed and subsequently endorsed by the GOVNET. A survey conducted in ten developing countries (Bangladesh, Georgia, Kosovo - Serbia and Montenegro, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia), as well as presentations to donor communities, partner countries and civil society representatives, revealed strong support for the draft Principles. The overriding emerging conclusion was that the draft Principles reflected best practice and that their widespread application would enhance donor effectiveness in combating corruption. The draft Principles were given final endorsement by the DAC at their 22 September 2006 meeting.

The Principles embrace the key areas and activities where donors should work together on anticorruption. They emphasise the need to support and strengthen the capacity of civil society, and underline the need for OECD donors to undertake work in their own countries on areas such as repatriation of assets, money laundering, and the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Making use of the Principles
The Principles constitute basic guidelines and orientations to improve collective donor action in the fight against corruption. They serve as stand-alone policy guidance as well as complementing the GOVNET Policy Paper on Anti-Corruption, which sets out opportunities for collective action in a number of areas where a concerted approach seems essential if the multiple risks associated with corruption are to be successfully managed.


Donor agencies are invited to use the Principles to inform the design of anti-corruption policies and as a diagnostic tool for governance assessment work on the ground. The first DAC-led anti-corruption and governance assessment mission to Cameroon in July 2006 demonstrated that the Principles can be used to remind donors of the need to work on both the ’demand’ and ’supply’ sides of corruption. It is expected that as more of these joint assessments are piloted in partner countries, the Principles will be used as common guidance and as a basis for dialogue with other stakeholders.


Principle No. 1 
Collectively foster, follow and fit into the local vision

Meeting the MDGs requires, inter alia, the resolve to fight corruption and to meet commitments agreed in relevant international and regional conventions including the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on antimoney laundering. Whenever feasible, these endeavors should be led by the host government.

At the country level, donors should:

  • Promote with government the development of a shared government-donor vision/strategy and collaborative mechanism(s) for anti-corruption dialogue and action, ideally based on government
    commitment to implement the UN Convention (or other relevant instrument)
  • Share diagnostics, knowledge and analysis through such mechanism(s), identifying gaps and reviewing progress
  • Engage with other key actors through such mechanism(s) (e.g. civil society, media and the private sector)
  • Support and strengthen the capacity of civil society for strengthening the demand for reform, and promoting and monitoring transparency and accountability in the fight against corruption. Work,  where government commitment is weak, with local and international civil society and private sector actors as the primary alternative, but recognising that strengthening government commitment is the essential objective in the long term
  • Take time to understand local political, economic, social and historical contexts and challenges, and develop responses that are appropriate to them
  • Favour long-term responses over short-term, reaction-driven inputs, but without losing the capacity for responding quickly to support new initiatives and emerging reformers where these opportunities arise

As individual donors:

  • Agree to present our anti-corruption assistance explicitly as being contributions to the shared vision/strategy and the collective donor approach (this should not be taken to imply any obligation to move to formal pooling arrangements, financial or otherwise)

Principle No. 2
Acknowledge and respond to the supply side of corruption

Donors recognise that corruption is a two-way street. Action is needed in donor countries to bear down on  corrupt practices by home-based companies doing business internationally. The OECD Anti Bribery  onvention has helped to underline the responsibilities that OECD member countries themselves have on the supply side of corruption. Donors need to work more effectively within their own domestic environments, with key relevant departments responsible for trade, export credit, international legal cooperation and diplomatic representation, as well as with the private sector.

Development agencies should:

  • Foster stronger action by relevant domestic departments in their own countries against the supply-side of corruption in areas such as bribery by donor country companies, money laundering,  epatriation of assets or the ratification and implementation of major international Conventions such as the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
  • Inform counterparts in other development agencies of this engagement
  • Engage proactively with the private sector in partner countries
  • Ensure that accountability and transparency measures are included in all areas of donor assistance.
  • Contribute to strengthening inter-country co-operation (mutual legal assistance, mechanisms for asset recovery) both by strengthening capacity in developing countries for making requests for international legal co-operation and by collaborating with domestic departments where appropriate

Principle No. 3
Marshal knowledge and lessons systematically and measure progress 

It is essential to make better use of existing knowledge and lessons learned, supporting governments in making them an integral part of the policy making process. It is also important that clear baselines and targets are set, while progress is systematically assessed against results.

At country level, donors should:

  • Collectively foster knowledge gathering to inform policy and operational action, drawing, wherever possible, on local capacity
  • Encourage government to develop systems that better connect evidence with policy development
  • Foster the systemisation and publication by government of the measurement and the reporting of progress on anti-corruption efforts

At the global level, donors should:

  • Develop a systematic approach to dividing up efforts for undertaking strategic research/knowledge gathering and synthesis and in sharing results


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