Democratic Renewal: The Financial Dimension

This project will inform the Summit for Democracy’s ‘Year of Action’ by highlighting the illicit finance challenges facing democracies today, and the role of financial integrity in democratic renewal.

De Luan / Alamy Stock Photo | A meeting of the Athenian Council aka Boule, in 594

The Summit for Democracy’s ‘Year of Action’ offers an opportunity for joint initiatives and new ideas for strengthening global democracy. Finance, and the probity of its influence, lie at the heart of – and contribute to – democratic values. Finance can spur innovation, development and renewal. But it can also be used to undermine democracy. Authoritarian regimes are increasingly co-opting the global norms for combatting illicit finance and corruption to supress civil society and human rights. They also continue to exploit loopholes and lax standards in democratic countries to fund anti-democratic activities. Kleptocracy and corruption, sometimes enabled by finance professionals, serve to further corrode trust in democratic institutions.

RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies is highlighting the integral role finance plays in democracy’s renewal – and in its setbacks – through a series of publications, workshops and public events.

De Luan / Alamy Stock Photo | A meeting of the Athenian Council aka Boule, in 594

Aims and objectives

Illicit finance is a common thread through the major challenges to democracy. It touches upon all three pillars in the Summit for Democracy’s ‘Year of Action’: authoritarianism, anti-corruption and human rights.

Our research aims to unravel the complexities of this threat and identify viable policy responses – for both the public and private sectors – in order to increase the chances for lasting democratic renewal across the globe.

Team insights

On Authoritarianism:

The CFCS has closely followed the Financial Action Task Force’s project on tracking the unintended consequences of its standards for human rights and civil society – particularly how standards have been co-opted by authoritarians to encumber political opponents and free and fair elections. We have big plans to build on that research and outreach during the S4D Year of Action.

Stephen Reimer

Associate Fellow

On Anti-Corruption:

Kleptocracy and malign finance undermine democracy. At RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, during the S4D Year of Action, we will redouble our focus on illicit finance and continue to promote the need for countries to tackle these issues as not only criminal threats, but also threats to security and the fundamentals of democracy.

Tom Keatinge

Director, CFS / Centre for Finance and Security

On Human Rights:

Financial inclusion is key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is crucial to participation in democratic societies. At the CFCS our work aims to identify where disproportionate application of financial crime controls can harm inclusion and alienate disadvantaged groups. By ensuring our financial system is inclusive, yet resilient against illicit finance, we cement its integrity and bolster democracy.

Isabella Chase

Associate Fellow; Former CFCS Senior Research Fellow, RUSI

Latest publications

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