Target 16.4 in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) is a global commitment to reduce the level of illicit financial flows and the damage they do. The target stands as a great achievement by civil society organisations, bringing a complex set of issues from the wilderness to the international agenda. But there remain critical challenges, both technical and political, if progress is to be realised.
‘Illicit financial flows’ is an umbrella term which covers cross-border movements related to tax avoidance, tax evasion, regulatory abuses, bribery and the theft of state assets, the laundering of the proceeds of crime and the financing of terrorism.
While international organisations had been somewhat active in relation to grand corruption and money laundering, it was only with the growing drive of civil society organisations from the early 2000s that the focus shifted to reflect the importance of tax-motivated flows.
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