Germany’s contribution to anti-corruption work

An employee at the Telavi residents’ office (Georgia)

Germany’s development work to combat corruption takes place on three levels:

  • support for reforms, with the aim of tackling corruption in partner countries;
  • compliance and risk management in development cooperation; and
  • fulfilment of international commitments.

Support for reforms in partner countries

German development policy takes a systematic approach to dealing with corruption and governance issues in the countries with which Germany cooperates. Pro-development governments are supported in their efforts to make their administration transparent and effective and gearing it to serving the common good. In particular, support is given to promote the development of efficient personnel and procurement, improvement of public finance systems and creation of audit offices, customs and tax administration bodies and specialised anti-corruption commissions.

In countries with a high risk of corruption and weak government structures, the BMZ supports the forces of reform and integrates anti-corruption measures into development programmes in other fields (education or health, for example) to address specific problems there. Strengthening civil society is also a priority in German development cooperation work.

Anti-corruption agreements have been included in all protocols of government negotiations with partner countries since as far back as 1997. Loan and finance agreements too contain pertinent clauses.  

Compliance and risk management in development cooperation

Germany frequently conducts development projects in countries that have a low level of governance. If such projects are to be effective and enjoy credibility, it is crucial that the German tax payers’ money be used in a responsible manner. A detailed analysis of the proneness to corruption of the countries and executing agencies is therefore carried out beforehand and the development measures and instruments are then adapted in line with the resulting risk potential.

The BMZ investigates all corruption cases reported in connection with its development cooperation work and takes appropriate action. It is guided by the zero tolerance principle set out in the 2011 Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation outcome document. In other words, if there is a risk that German development funding could be misused, it is possible to stop the payments.

In accordance with the 2004 Federal Government Anti-Corruption Directive ("Richtlinie der Bundesregierung zur Prävention von Korruption"), all German development cooperation workers are made aware of these issues and trained to ensure they maintain their integrity even in corrupt working environments and that they strictly adhere to all laws and directives.

As a member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), Germany has made a commitment to provide easily accessible and understandable information about how development funding is used. More information is available here.

Fulfilment of international commitments

Germany supports the drafting of and adherence to international anti-corruption standards through its active involvement in the United Nations, World Bank, G7/G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In particular, Germany is an advocate of more transparency in sectors considered to be especially prone to corruption. One of the ways in which it advances this cause is through the BMZ’s energetic support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Another key area of international cooperation is combating cross-border causes of corruption. The BMZ promotes the drafting of and adherence to standards around the world to counter bribery in international business transactions and money laundering. In addition, Germany assists its partner countries in recovering assets lost to illicit cash flows.

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