Anti-corruption summit 2016: What will happen? How has David Cameron made it a bit awkward?

'Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world'

Ashley Cowburn@ashcowburn
Wednesday 11 May 2016 11:56
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Panama, despite being home to Mossack Fonseca law firm, will not attend
Panama, despite being home to Mossack Fonseca law firm, will not attend

David Cameron will welcome delegates from countries across the world for a major anti-corruption conference, but the event is likely to be overshadowed by the Prime Minister’s acutely embarrassing indiscretion.

Just days before the 2016 anti-corruption summit, he was caught on camera in discussion with the Queen, Archbishop of Canterbury and John Bercow, describing two of the countries sending delegates to London as “fantastically corrupt countries”.

“Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world,” Mr Cameron said.

As if the momentary lapse of diplomacy was not ample cause for chagrin, the leader of one of those countries is due to give a keynote speech during the event.

When/Where is it the summit?

Thursday 12 May at Lancaster House in London

Who is going?

The President of Afghanistan and the President of Nigeria are set to attend – creating the possibility of an awkward encounter with Mr Cameron.

The PM will also bring together leaders from Colombia and Norway “to ensure the summit kick-starts a truly global movement to defeat corruption”.

It will “bring together a unique coalition of governments, businesses, civil society, law enforcement, sports committees and international organisations, who will commit to taking practical steps to tackle corruption and make it a genuine global priority”.

Panellists are expected to include World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Transparency International Global Chair José Ugaz, author Sarah Chayes, and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

…Who isn’t invited?

Well, despite Panama being the country at the centre of the Panama Papers controversy, it will not send any delegates.

The Panamanian government told the Times they hadn’t received an invite. The British Virgin Islands, another country linked to leaked cache of documents detailing the tax affairs of thousands of wealthy individuals, has also been left off Downing Street’s invitation list.

What will they be talking about?

Interestingly, during the summit, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to deliver a keynote address entitled: "Why We Must Tackle Corruption Together".

But the broad aim is to “step up global action to expose, punish and drive out corruption in all walks of life”. The PM wants those at the summit to “acknowledge” that corruption undermines efforts to end “poverty, promote prosperity and defeat terrorism and extremism”.

What has the Prime Minister said about the summit?

“Corruption is an enemy of progress and the root of so many of the world’s problems. It destroys jobs and holds back economic growth, traps the poorest in desperate poverty, and undermines our security by pushing people towards extremist groups.

“The battle against corruption will not be won overnight. It will take time, courage and determination to deliver the reforms that are necessary. But we cannot hope to solve the major global challenges we face without tackling the exploitation, fraud and dishonesty at their heart.

“For too long there has been a taboo about tackling this issue head on. The summit will change that. Together we will push the fight against corruption to the top of the international agenda where it belongs.”

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