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Tackling corruption overseas inquiry launched

3 February 2016

The International Development Committee is holding an inquiry into tackling corruption overseas. 

Scope of the inquiry

The International Development Committee is inquiring into tackling corruption overseas and, in particular, evidence should address the points listed below. Evidence does not have to address all of the points listed. Where possible and appropriate, the committee are particularly grateful to receive submissions that illustrate points with specific examples.

  • Should DFID have a zero tolerance policy towards corruption in the countries where it is working or is a more nuanced approach needed to tackle corruption over the long-term?  How can DFID manage the risks associated with corruption and reconcile them with its value-for-money agenda?
  • In 2013 DFID published anti-corruption strategies for all the countries it works in; how effective have these been? Do they adequately take into account the political and social context of the countries in question?  Do certain sectors require particular attention? How should success be measured? 
  • What should the balance be between seeking to tackle corruption top down at institutional level and bottom up at the grass roots? What works and what is not working as well and why?
  • Corruption and poor governance can be a key cause of instability in fragile states. Is the UK Government appropriately prioritising and managing anti-corruption strategies in these settings? What are the challenges in practice and what could it be doing better?

UK Policy

  • How important is UK domestic anti-corruption policy and practice to international efforts to curb its effects?  Is there a coherent ‘One HMG' strategy to combating the effects of corruption on developing countries, and what should DFID's role be within this?  What are the challenges in practice?
  • What more should the UK Government be doing on issues such as beneficial ownership, tax havens, illicit flows and the arms trade to limit the effects of corruption on developing countries? How might it use its influence to encourage coherent international action?

Written Submissions

The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 3 March. The Committee values diversity and seeks to ensure this where possible. We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence.

The Committee considers requests for reasonable adjustments to its usual arrangements for taking evidence and publishing material, to enhance access. Please contact or telephone 020 7219 1223.


Corruption costs developing countries an estimated $1 trillion each year. It can have a devastating effect on a country's democratic system, economy, civil society, and the provision of public goods and services. It is also a very complex problem to tackle, often embedded in social norms with numerous groups and actors involved. Rule of Law, local ownership, governance, taxation, and private sector behaviour in a global marketplace all have an impact, so efforts to tackle corruption require significant coordination and a comprehensive understanding of the context.

Sustainable Development Goal 16 commits signatory governments to significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, substantially reduce bribery and corruption and develop accountable and transparent institutions. At the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September, David Cameron put tackling corruption at the top of the UK Government's development agenda, stating:

“Let's be frank about what keeps so many stuck in poverty. Corruption. Rotten government. No access to justice. No property rights. No rule of law. Today, for the first time, every country in the world is committing to tackle corruption, to promote the rule of law and access to justice, to reduce illicit financial flows and to strengthen the return of stolen assets.”

DFID's Approach 

DFID has developed specific anti-corruption strategies for each of the countries it works in, although the Department has previously received criticism for its work in this area. Ahead of the Prime Minister's Anti-Corruption Summit, to be held in London in May, the International Development Committee is inquiring into the direction and effectiveness of DFID's current anti-corruption efforts, the development impacts of UK Government policy on corruption and the coherence of the Government's approach as a whole.

Further information

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