Micah Challenge G20 campaign – End Corruption End Poverty

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World leaders meeting at November’s G20 economic summit in France this week are being strongly urged to tackle world poverty by recommitting to work together to end the scourge of corruption, which keeps people in poverty across the world.

‘Corruption and poor governance and transparency are major barriers to overcoming poverty in the least developed countries, and if the world leaders start to address these issues, then we will be on the way to reaching the Millennium Development Goals to which the world is already committed ’, says Rev Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, a global movement active in over 40 countries encouraging Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the MDGs.

‘Corruption at the highest level in some countries means that the very poor remain very poor, with resources going to a few people at the top, or to outside agencies who have bribed their way into contracts. And even when social or aid programmes are specifically designed to help the poor, funds are often diverted from front-line services because of bribery or inefficiency,’ Joel Edwards says.

France will host and chair the G20 Summit in Cannes on November 3rd and 4th and will therefore determine the agenda for the two days. In advance of the summit, Micah Challenge representatives across the world have been writing to their French Ambassadors, endorsing French government plans to place poverty and corruption firmly on the agenda. Letters have also gone to the governments of some of the individual G20 nations and meetings requested with the ‘Sherpas’ – senior civil servants who work behind the scenes to prepare and advise world leaders ahead of and during the economic summits.

On Sunday October 30th, Micah Challenge France held a church service in Cannes attended by many French and international Christian leaders. During this service there was prayer, and a challenge for both churches and political leaders for action on poverty and, in particular, action to end corruption.

‘While we understand much of the focus for the G20 will be the state of the world economy, we do not want the world leaders to take their eye off the Millennium Development Goals,’ says Micah Challenge France co-ordinator, M Thierry Seewald.The G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea last year recommitted the leading world economies to addressing corruption (see footnote1). Micah Challenge is reminding world leaders of that clear commitment and is looking forward to the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group’s first monitoring report, which was promised for G20 2011. 

Micah Challenge is also encouraging G20 nations to undertake two initiatives which will go some way to tackling corruption.

Firstly, to follow the lead of the USA in introducing a requirement for companies to publish what they pay to all governments where they operate (see footnote 2).  Secondly, Micah Challenge is urging the G20 leaders to improve the fight against tax havens that deprive nations of much needed tax income (see footnote 3) .

The drive against corruption is linked to meeting The Millennium Development Goals, decided in 2000 by 189 countries who pledged to halve world poverty by the year 2015 (see footnote 4 – MDG Goals)

‘So much more needs to be done if we are going to see a considerable change in the lives of many very poor people across the world’, says Joel Edwards. ‘That’s why we are calling the church to be an example of integrity so we can call business and government to serve communities honestly. Dealing with corruption is a key to overcoming poverty.’

Christian groups across the globe are calling for fairer economic models that reflect God’s Kingdom values. Micah Challenge is a major voice to leaders. Joel Edwards says, ‘G20 is our opportunity to remind world leaders of their previous commitments, and to urge them not to forget the desperate needs of the world’s poor while they consider the needs of the rich economies. It is also a challenge to us all to take action wherever and whenever we can to help those who, through no fault of their own, are in dire poverty.’

Notes to Editors

Media contact: Cathy Le Feuvre, media consultant – [email protected] / 07889321638

Micah Challenge contact: Amanda Jackson, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns – [email protected] / 0207 367 6573

Micah Challlenge is a global movement active in over 40 countries whose aim is to encourage Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the Millenninum Development Goals, signed by 189 countries in the year 2000 which committed to halving world poverty by the year 2015.

The Micah Challenge logo is available for use on request

Footnote 1  : G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2010 Summary of the G20 Anti-Corruption Plan, Seoul, November 12, 2010.

The action plan decided at Seoul last year by G20 nations details the agenda for combatting corruption and promoting market integrity.  It notes that corruption undermines the law and is an impediment to economic growth.  The G20 recognise their responsibility as major trading nations to establish frameworks to tackle this.  They seek to find a common approach towards greater transparency in accordance with UNCAC (United Nations Convention Against Corruption)  and other existing mechanisms. 

Specifically, the G20 pledged to fully implement UNCAC and other anti-corruption measures, and to enforce international anti-bribery laws.  In order to prevent corrupt officials, measures against money laundering will be strengthened and common principles to prevent travel with impunity will be established.  The FATF(Financial Action Task Force)  will be invited to participate in this.  Similarly, extradition laws will be unified and mutual legal assistance strengthened.  These mutual channels will also be used to promote the detection and recovery of proceeds of corruption stowed abroad.   Furthermore, in order to safeguard whistleblowers, international protection rules will be established by the end of 2012.  Additionally, anti-corruption bodies are to be promoted and transparency is to be encouraged in the public sector.

The agreement recognises the importance of business in anti-corruption efforts, and so seeks to encourage public-private partnerships.  They will work with industry and civil society in specific sectors, aiming to recommend multi-stakeholder initiatives by the end of 2011.

The G20 commits itself to leading by example, for instance by continuing with peer-review systems.  Moreover, the Anti-Corruption Working Group will prepare a first monitoring report to be ready for the summit in France.

For full details of the Action Plan can be found in Annex III of the ‘Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth’, http://www.g20.org/Documents2010/11/seoulsummit_annexes.pdf

Footnote 2 : The American legislation, called the Dodd Frank Act, requires all companies listed on their stock exchanges and operating particularly in the ‘extractive’ sector (mining, oil, gas industries) to publish all payments made to foreign governments.  These multi-million pound contracts often depend on the very poor for workforce but revenue invariably does not benefit the poor. Reporting and transparency would ensure that any payments made to governments to secure contracts was in the public domain, allowing communities in developing countries to hold their governments to account for how the money is spent.

Footnote 3 : Tax havens enable considerable sums of money to by-pass national taxation, and deprive the country where the funds are generated of substantial financial resources which could be used to improve the lot of the poor – building schools and hospitals, providing life-saving drugs and supporting the livelihoods of the very poor.

Footnote 4 : The Eight Millennium Development Goals are - the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, primary education for all, promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, the reduction of child mortality, improvement of the health of mothers, a commitment to combat Aids/HIV, malaria and other endemic disease, environmental sustainability and the development of a ‘global partnership for development’.