The phenomenon of corruption affects countries all over the globe – although to a different extent – and for this reason is one of the main themes at the centre of international debate.
In addition to undermining the rule of law and trust in institutions, corruption damages international credibility, distorts competition and reduces investment, especially foreign. According to the World Bank, corruption is the biggest obstacle to a country’s social and economic development (Shang-Jin Wei, 1999). The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group highlighted this negative correlation between corruption and growth as early as in 2014, with the G20 High Level Principles on Corruption and Growth, negotiated under the direction of the Italian co-presidency.
Measurement indices based on the perception of the level of corruption have gradually shown some inherent limitations due to a subjective analysis of the phenomenon that can generate biased and partial results.
The creation of new tools of measurement based on actionable, objective, identifiable and valid data is an essential precondition for the affirmation of the rule of law and the principle of legality: the more knowledge is obtained about the phenomenon of corruption and its measurement, the more focused and effective are the policies put in place by countries for prevention and enforcement. Such data is also critical to better understand the impact of these policies on anti-corruption and integrity outcomes.
The topic has been recognised as a priority for the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG). Under the Italian Presidency in 2021, G20 members have embarked, with the support of the OECD, on the collection of good practices on measuring corruption, resulting in the “Compendium of Good Practices on Corruption Measurement”. It was drafted on the basis of countries’ responses to a Questionnaire on Corruption Measurement, provided on a voluntary basis by 18 delegations. The Compendium has been approved by the whole ACWG.
The questionnaire included a series of questions on existing practices and approaches used in G20 countries to measure corruption. Starting with a brief description of the national detection and enforcement system generating data and statistics on corruption cases, the ultimate goal was to take stock of current practices by collecting and sharing detailed information on methodological approaches, data sources, concepts in use, actors involved, access to and use of produced data/information. Feedback on various types of operational, methodological, conceptual and other challenges was also collected. To capitalise on the diversity of countries’ situations, G20 countries were encouraged to provide information on a variety of approaches used to measure corruption and related vulnerabilities.
The spirit of this exercise was that of collecting good practices of G20 countries and raising the awareness of the general anti-corruption global community – including the private sector, academia and civil society – on the need to overcome exclusively subjective/perceptive indicators and to promote a collective discussion and reflection on ways to improve corruption measurement and develop more reliable data, also in line with the “leading by example” principle that qualifies the action of the global forum.