NDI’s anti-corruption work puts politics at the core. NDI’s approach is grounded in an understanding of the political incentives that stymie or drive reform and considers misconduct perpetrated by domestic elites as well as the crossborder corruption promoted by covert foreign powers or transnational non-state actors. All of NDI’s anti-corruption programs are designed and implemented with partners, particularly local civil society organizations and government reformers.
Public Debt Transparency and Accountability
Exacerbated by COVID and other crises, opaque and unsustainable debt represents a major impediment to global development and democracy. Loans are contracted without public knowledge or parliamentary scrutiny. Unsustainable debt reduces funding for essential public services with 21 of the 25 world’s poorest countries spending more on debt service payments than on health, education and social protection combined. NDI's programming on public debt promotes transparency on the part of lenders and borrowers as well as enhanced checks and balances through parliamentary policymaking and oversight.
A key area of focus are efforts to understand and counter kleptocratic rule, where ‘rule by thieves’ becomes the operating system that dominates institutions and drives policy making. Under this workstream, NDI supports activists and reformers to conduct research and support programming in countries that are seeking to recover from kleptocratic rule. In these transition contexts, NDI works with domestic reformers to identify, assess and dismantle the deeply embedded kleptocratic networks that act as ‘spoilers’, intent on undermining anti-corruption or democratic progress.
Anti-corruption communications strategies:
NDI’s program also includes assistance to reformist leadership on mobilizing and sustaining public support for anti-corruption reform. NDI does this through support for the development of evidence-based anti-corruption communications strategies that draw on citizen input and effectively message integrity progress.
Kleptocratic leaders rely on cross-border networks to launder and invest their illicit gains, often in low-risk (rule of law) settings in Europe or North America. Investigations of kleptocrats across regions have documented the myriad ways in which Western institutions facilitate corrupt behavior through legal and accounting advice, financial services, real estate and luxury goods sales, strategic consulting, public relations campaigning. Recognizing that corruption on a transnational scale requires transnational solutions, NDI supports anti-corruption activists in kleptocratic contexts to effectively communicate the results of their corruption investigations and improve their advocacy capacity in the countries that host and enable the kleptocrats’ ill-gotten gains.