Illicit Financial Flows in the Global South: How do we influence the Advocacy Narrative?

March 13th, 2020

By Robert Ssuuna, Tax Justice Network Africa

The changing face of illicit financial flows (IFFs) necessitates multifaceted approaches to detect, remedy and or mitigate risks associated with the phenomenon.  It is therefore paramount that civil society actors in developing countries are able to create and contribute to policy debates for the realization of financial and tax transparency and accountability. To achieve this, such actors need to actively engage and provide developing country perspectives informing the ongoing international debate on financial transparency issues, as well as contextualize global debates at national levels, thus promoting the development of national and regional rights-based narratives and movements on illicit financial flows and financial transparency in the Global South.

From the foregoing, the Financial Transparency Coalition’s (FTC) Southern Regions Program (SRP) aims at providing a platform civil society to shape the global discourse on illicit financial flows and financial secrecy. The SRP through research and advocacy activities seeks to inform norms and standards on illicit financial flows according to the differentiated realities of developing countries.

The FTC recognises the dearth of literature emerging from the Global South to effectively address issues of financial secrecy, enablers of illicit financial flows, the lopsided impact on domestic resources mobilisation due to the loss of revenue as illicit financial flows, adoption of tax transparency standards in developing countries and the much needed reforms in the international financial architecture.

It is against this background that the FTC has produced a Toolkit from the coalition member organisations [1] intended to shape the advocacy narrative addressing the foregoing challenges. Attaining this objective, requires an understanding of the impact of lack of definition of IFFs, establishing mechanisms to combat IFFs in the most affected sectors specifically the extractives, guidance to facilitate lawyers in the Global South to address IFFs, examining effective interventions and entry points to influence cooperation at national, regional and global levels to eliminate IFFs and unmasking the role of banking in facilitating the IFF phenomenon.

The Toolkit is meant as a reference point to empower civil society organizations (CSOs), lawyers, activists and journalists based in the Global South familiar with the subject by demystifying technical issues on IFFs, tax justice, financial transparency norms and advocacy processes for better reportage and wider awareness,  making it accessible and enabling resource that targets global, regional, national accountability mechanisms, national budgetary processes, institutions, SDG review and Financing for Development processes. It includes simplified case study-based examples developing a framework that facilitates downstream and upstream advocacy efforts by publishing varied practices and strategies across Global South in the form of 5 modules.

There is great potential in bringing out a document from the experience and expertise of civil society organisations from developing regions to curb IFFs for civil society organisations, practitioners and journalists based in the Global South. We also hope the toolkit will strengthen the rights-based discourse on tackling illicit financial flows.



[1] Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), Latin American Network on Economic and Social Justice (LATINDADD), Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) and Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA)

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