On May 16, International Day of Living Together in Peace, the Basel Institute on Governance reflects on how Collective Action can help strengthen governance and contribute to bringing about peace – crucial preconditions for prosperity and sustainable development.
The UN Global Compact in its work on governance has long recognised the complex relationship between corruption, peace, the rule of law and sustainable development. So too does the UN 2030 Agenda: Sustainable Development Goal 16 emphasises how peace, stability, human rights and effective governance rest on the rule of law and strong, accountable institutions.
This connection between corruption, governance and peace is something that our anti-corruption work at the Basel Institute on Governance has demonstrated time and again over the last 18 years. Addressing corruption challenges helps directly to build state capacity, expand social inclusion and improve the management of natural resources. All are fundamental to sustainable development and the prosperity that underpins peaceful societies.
The journey, not just the destination
A peaceful world free from corruption is a goal that that drives our work, and a dream shared by many citizens and businesses. But the journey to get there is also important. As the UN says about peace, it is not just the absence of conflict but a “positive, dynamic participatory process, in which dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation”.
This spirit is at the core of Collective Action.
Collective Action takes many forms, but is essentially about bringing together diverse stakeholders with different perspectives and priorities to find a joint solution to a shared challenge.
This process of dialogue and collaboration fosters mutual understanding that focuses on pragmatic solutions while respecting different opinions and perspectives. It builds relationships and strengthens institutions across sectors and borders. These are recipes for sustained and solid peace.
The target of Collective Action could be issues arising from Covid-19 or climate change, or global peace and security as the Final Communiqué of the G7 recently emphasised. But it can also address barriers to peace, such as corruption.
Tangible co-action for fairer, cleaner business environments
Collective Action against corruption has been our focus at the Basel Institute since its foundation. Today, through our B20 Collective Action Hub and guidance services, we support dozens of practitioners working to enhance responsible and sustainable business practices in their countries and sectors.
We are seeing increasing interest by businesses and others in the application of Collective Action as a tool to address a wider combination of risks where corruption is an underlying issue. Human rights, sustainable development and good governance practices are all undermined by corruption. Whether driven by investors, regulators or societal expectations, there is a growing sense of urgency that collaborative approaches are needed now more than ever to tackle these challenges that cross borders and ultimately affect us all.
Collective Action tools such as the Integrity Pact and High Level Reporting Mechanism bring governments and businesses together to improve high-value procurement processes – a topic that has triggered social unrest in many countries due to allegations of corrupt practices in Covid-19 emergency procurement.
Some local certification initiatives for anti-corruption compliance bring large companies together with their smaller suppliers to address integrity and corruption risks in their business relationships. These kinds of collaborations help to support working with integrity and contributing to sustainable business, economic growth and the prosperity that fosters stability and peace.
Who is leading the way?
Like the UN Global Compact itself, the Collective Action approach embraces differences, unites diversity and channels the collective energy of different actors towards achievements that benefit all.
No wonder that Collective Action is at the heart of the UN Global Compact’s Strategy 2021-2023. It has been a leader for many years in driving the concept and practice of Collective Action as a way for companies to foster a fair and enabling business environment.
Others are following. One of our recent research papers revealed fresh endorsements and recommendations of anti-corruption Collective Action by around 20 governments in their national anti-corruption strategies as well as by the B20, UNODC, OECD, World Bank, World Customs Organization and GRI Standards.
So on this International Day of Living Together in Peace, spend a moment reflecting on how your institution could take up those calls and lead the way in deploying Collective Action against corruption and other barriers to peace and sustainable development.
The Basel Institute on Governance is an independent, non-profit organisation working around the world to strengthen governance and counter corruption and other financial crimes. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland since 2003, its 90 staff work with public, private, third sector and academic partners on issues of asset recovery, public governance, public financial management, compliance and anti-corruption Collective Action.
As a facilitator of anti-corruption Collective Action initiatives, the Basel Institute hosts the B20 Collective Action Hub and has guided companies in multiple sectors towards pragmatic self-regulatory standards and best practices in compliance. See baselgovernance.org or go straight to the B20 Collective Action Hub at baselgovernance.org/b20-collective-action-hub