In 1978, the UN objective was to provide 1 per cent of the gross national income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA). In 2000, it became 0.7 per cent. Denmark has fulfilled the UN objective of providing 0.7 per cent of its GNI to ODA since 1978 and will continue to do so. Promoting the international anti-corruption agenda is a key priority for Denmark as also reflected in Denmark’s strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian action (The World 2030). Denmark will help build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions in partner countries. The anti-corruption and human rights commitments have remained stable, while the zero tolerance for corruption has become well known. Denmark has supported anti-corruption initiatives and broader governance reform through its bilateral engagement and strategic sector cooperation as well as through support for multilateral partners and civil society organisations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (MFA) will continue to support anti-corruption initiatives in bilateral country programmes through, for example, strengthening public financial management, including domestic control systems, supreme audit institutions, anti-corruption agencies and ombudsman institutions. MFA will apply zero tolerance to corruption in line with its anti-corruption policy and its code of conduct that are applicable to all staff working in the MFA. The National Audit Office of Denmark is notified of all cases of reasonable suspicions of irregularities or misuse concerning Danish development assistance. As a rule, these notifications are also published on the MFA’s website. The Danish focus on anti-corruption is prominent in the global anti-corruption agenda. This was noted in the 2018 evaluation of Danish Human Rights support (available at um.dk evaluations). At country level, the anti-corruption focus may vary according to which country is supported. In Uganda, Ukraine and Afghanistan, for example, the anti-corruption focus in programmes is quite strong.
Each year, the activities are reported to the OECD. Denmark follows the OECD/DAC (Development Assistance Committee) system to determine if an activity is development assistance or not. The OECD/DAC system ensures that data from all countries is comparable and that the activities comply with the common agreement on what development assistance is.
The MFA will support Danish companies and NGOs operating abroad in resisting demands of bribes and the facilitation payments through the Fight Against Facilitation Payments Initiative (FAFPI) implemented in cooperation with the Confederation of Danish Industry. FAFPI will provide a platform for anonymously reporting incidents where demands for facilitation payments are raised. This in turn will serve as a point of departure for a dialogue with local authorities in how to address given challenges.
The commitment targets a concrete and sufficiently narrow policy area. The 0.7 per cent of the GNI, the support of the implementation of FAFPI and the disclosure of cases of suspected or confirmed misuse of Danish development aid are sufficiently specific to be measured and monitored.
The commitment targets a concrete and sufficiently narrow policy area. The 0.7 per cent of the GNI is sufficiently specific to be measured and monitored.
Corruption can be reported on the Danish MFA’s website, which also has information on all corruption cases the various anti-corruption initiatives.1 There is no specific information on the percentage GNI to ODA that is focused on anti-corruption. In its 2019 finance bill, the government increased the development assistance framework by DKK464.1 million (around US$73.9 million), bringing total development assistance to 0.7 per cent of GNI, or DKK16.392 billion (around US$2.61 billion). An additional DKK182.8 million (around US$29.1 million) was also allocated as an adjustment to the 2017 development assistance framework. Development cooperation assistance thereby totals DKK16.575 billion (around US$2.64 billion) in 2019.2
In 2019, the MFA launched a programme to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts at national and international levels, focusing on advocacy, monitoring and research among others.3 The programme supports civil society organisations (CSOs), private companies and international organisations. Transparency International Denmark is in favour of the programme and will follow its activities and allocation of funds until it ends in 2022.
The MFA website offers a public register for the suspected or confirmed misuse of Danish development funds. In accordance with data privacy legislation, the cases are removed after two years, but can be recovered by contacting the MFA. The Danish national audit agent, Rigsrevisionen is informed on a quarterly basis about the number of cases and expected financial loss. In 2019, 46 cases were reported, amounting to an expected loss of DKK550.000 (around US$87,578) as a result of corruption, fraud and misuse of Danish public aid (in 2019, the total development aid from Denmark was DKK12 billion, approximately US$1.9 billion).
FAFPI is still under development, and it is therefore not possible to assess the level of support from the MFA.
Challenges to effective commitment implementation
The Danish capacity to implement the commitment may be reduced as the number of actors has increased with more and new types of partnerships. Cuts in allocations to the Danish MFA could mean that it is more difficult for embassies and country offices to maintain an overview of programmes and projects implemented with Danish support. Furthermore, the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on economies worldwide will presumably lead to declines in GDP which might have adverse effects on aid in the coming years.
The declining allocations of funds to bilateral programmes could lead to a decreased opportunity for country level political dialogue, which is a pre-condition for an effective country-based cooperation on reducing corruption. This may be counterbalanced by Denmark’s success at getting human rights issues on the agenda at the UN level, but these considerations are important for future anti-corruption programmes.4
Opportunities to accelerate commitment implementation
Accountability and transparency were previously dealt with through bilateral country programmes. This has declined, and now more funding is channelled through either multilateral funds, the EU system CSOs. This change of channels has increased the opportunities to monitor the implementation of the commitment and reduced the instances of corruption. Continuing to use these channels are thus seen as an opportunity to accelerate commitment implementation.
Denmark is increasing its focus on digital resilience; a position has been established in the department of Humanitarian Action, Civil Society and Engagement with a focus on support through CSOs. International Media Support is a major actor in the media support globally and works with its partners in these areas. United Nations Development Programme has also requested support from Denmark for its #NextGenGov initiative.
It is recommended that the implementation of the commitment continues to follow Transparency International guidelines for transparent development aid5 by: i) following the common International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards for reporting all development flows; ii) ensuring that information is consistently and proactively made public; iii) guaranteeing the public’s engagement and ownership of development activities that are funded from abroad; iv) bringing new and traditional development actors into the same cooperation structures; and v) leveraging international processes to deliver on development commitments. Further specific recommendations are available in the annex of the Transparency International paper, Anti-Corruption Strategies for Donors During the COVID-19 Pandemic.6
- MFA, Danida Transparency, no date, https://um.dk/en/danida-en/about-danida/danida-transparency/
- DANIDA, Government priorities for Danish development cooperation, https://um.dk/en/danida-en/strategies%20and%20priorities/government-priorities—danish-development-assistance/2019
- MFA, Anti-corruption Programme 2019-2022, https://um.dk/~/media/um/english-site/documents/danida/about-danida/danida%20transparency/documents/council%20for%20development%20policy/2019/03%20anticorruption.pdf?la=da12 October 2018
- Danish Parliament Foreign Policy Committee, https://www.thedanishparliament.dk/en/committees/committees/the-foreign-policy-committee
- Transparency International, Transparency and Accountability in Development: Where Do We Stand?, https://www.transparency.org/en/news/transparency-and-accountability-in-development-where-do-we-stand20 November 2012
- Transparency International, Anti-Corruption Strategies for Donors During the COVID-19 Pandemic, https://www.transparency.org/en/blog/anti-corruption-strategies-for-donors-during-the-covid-19-pandemic25 May 2020