International agency cooperation at heart of 4th Commonwealth Africa Regional Meeting for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies (May 26 – 30)
The theme of this year’s conference will be one of international cooperation – a trend we see globally as practitioners: enforcement agencies are able to increase exponentially their success rate in uncovering and prosecuting bribery, corruption and public fraud by closely cooperating with their international sister authorities.
The event’s title is therefore aptly (if blandly) put: “Coordinating National Anti-Corruption Agenda within Commonwealth Cooperation.” The event will be hosted by the Ghanaian government and organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat. (Last year’s conference, held in Mauritius, was more intriguingly entitled: “Fighting corruption without fear and favour”). The event has been described as “peer-to-peer” / “south-south” and is designed to strengthen the network of heads of regional anti-corruption enforcers.
According to a Ghanaian government report, the country’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) issued a statement, saying that combating corruption has been identified by the Commonwealth Secretariat as crucial to its work: “To this end, Commonwealth Secretariat has established the Network of Anti-Corruption Agencies (ACAs) in Commonwealth Africa to enable South-South collaboration and learning,” and a Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre has been established in Botswana to aid in coordinating the Commonwealth-African agencies’ team work in the future.
The CHRAJ, based on a provision in the 1992 Constitution, has not been without its critics., who have emphasised that the solution to corruption in African countries “lies in not the establishment of more structures to fight corruption but the reorganisation of existing ones to strengthen and improve their efficacy.”
The conference may accomplish just that, notably by strengthening international cooperation in the region. Such information-sharing coordination not only enhances agency skills, investigatory readiness, and network effects, but may also have as a positive side effect an improved checks-and-balances system that would otherwise lack if each authority operated without a close watch by sister agencies vis-a-vis each other.