Countering Corruption: 2012 Conference Report from the World Forum on Governance


Reformers, businesspeople, investors and citizens alike are grappling with a common issue around the world: Good governance. How can each nation secure government that is honest and not corrupt, that serves the public interest and not special interests, and that aims to deliver practical solutions to today’s most pressing problems? How can corporations and institutional investors achieve good governance of their own, that protects and promotes long term value while complying with legal norms, ethical standards and customer expectations? What is the relationship between good corporate and democratic governance? Indeed, is either possible without the other?

In December 2012, Brookings convened the second World Forum on Governance, which has unique capacity to join thought leaders from the public and private sectors together. The objective was to identify means to leverage the collective power of capital, media, public policy and social organization behind the movement against global corruption.

Conference participants included a rich mix of leaders, experts and grassroots innovators from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America, the corporate and investment worlds, traditional and new media and faith-based organizations. Delegates revisited the Ten Principles outlined in the Prague Declaration, which was formulated during the 2011 World Forum on Governance, reviewed reports on initiatives raised at the 2011 meeting, and discussed next steps to address governance and integrity.

Most importantly, breakout sessions trained attention on four policy action areas critical to the fight against corruption:

  • Crafting effective law, regulation and enforcement within and across borders;
  • Strengthening the business and investment case for managing corruption risk; 
  • Linking a wider group of civil society organizations, including faith groups, behind the push for integrity in the public and private sectors; and
  • Enhancing the capacity of traditional and social media to serve as watchdogs against corruption.

One plenary session concentrated debate on the experience of financial institutions; a second addressed how the strengths and weaknesses of democracy affect corruption. By the end of the 2012 WFG,  conference organizers gained enough feedback and useful ideas from the participants to decide upon an agenda of next steps. These policy action ideas are clustered around five themes. Organizers can steer follow-up on each to specific conference participants or relevant organizations; other actions can be taken forward by the Brookings Institution.

  • Establishing a framework for an investor road show, to bring the voice of capital directly to political leaders on the business value of fighting corruption.
  • Encouraging greater collaboration among policymakers around the world to incubate legislative and policy action to improve anti-corruption efforts.
  • Increasing the capacity for the media to report on and be educated about corruption and increasing accountability for media companies themselves.
  • Engaging with the faith community to identify a role for this critical voice in the fight against corruption.
  • Raising the profile of firms considered leaders in the field for business integrity, transparency, and corporate governance.

Download and read the full conference report » (PDF)