By Cristobal Vasquez
During the United Nations General Assembly meeting last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed a new agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which expire in 2015. Cameron’s plan included 12 simple steps to eradicate global poverty.
“If we end up with 17 goals there is a real danger that they will just end up sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust,” said David Cameron.
Cameron and other leaders insisted that reducing corruption should be a top priority in tackling the new agenda. “The broad sweep of history shows that a nation’s prosperity is not determined by its geography, its climate, its people’s ethnicity, or its religion,” Cameron said. He then emphasized, “it’s determined by the openness and accountability of its government and the strength of its institutions.”
He finished his speech by demanding “greater transparency over the ownership of companies to stop corrupt officials, oligarchs, and money launderers from plundering a country’s wealth with impunity.”
While recognizing the importance of tackling corruption, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, explained that accountability was not the only way to ensure the honest distribution of financial resources in impoverished countries. He stressed the importance of addressing the holes in financial and legal institutions in developing countries, which allow multinationals to plunder their limited resources.
Mahama added that the sophisticated accounting techniques used by corporations make it very hard to track their revenues and tax accordingly. He asked that the U.S. and the UK, better primed in the business of corporate accountability, direct developing countries in implementing better governance structures.
Though good governance, financial transparency, and an end to corruption are quite controversial subjects, they can and should be included in the post-MDG development goals. In a recent United Nations Global Survey for a Better World, more than two million people (out of five million who participated) identified good governance as a solution to poverty. And if Cameron and Mahama have any sway, two million voices will be integrated into the new plan of action.
Cristobal Vasquez is the economic and financial reporter for World Policy Journal.
[Photo courtesy of the UK’s Prime Minister Office]