Alex Cobham ■ Identifying and reducing illicit financial flows: collaborate with us!


The UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed globally in 2015 includes a target, for the first time, to reduce illicit flows. Three years later, however, the process to identify appropriate and sufficiently robust indicators is still ongoing. Meanwhile, policy processes and advocacy efforts are themselves held back by a lack of consensus on the most robust estimates. At the same time, there is a lack of consensus on where efforts to improve data and methodologies should focus – with the result that progress is likely to be unduly slow.

The Tax Justice Network has therefore decided to initiate a process aimed at making a degree of progress in each of these areas. We plan to publish a book, drawing together the leading estimates of various components of illicit flows and offering a critical evaluation of the data and methodology used in each case, along with recommendations for the most promising areas for future work. Each chapter will address a different approach, including the work of many of those receiving this email. Each chapter will be published online, in the collaborative forum provided by Github/Gitbook, and our fervent hope is that many of you will invest the time to review this work and – crucially – to make your own contributions.

You can find out more about the project here. You’ll also find a link to the draft of the first chapter, which is launched today. Our intention is to publish drafts of each subsequent chapter every three to four weeks. This first chapter provides a detailed explanation of the context and motivation for the book, and sets out the structure and approach that it will take.

By summer 2018, we aim to have a complete, revised manuscript, reflecting multiple contributions from experts and wider stakeholders. In the first instance, the chapters will be drafted by Petr Janský of Charles University, Prague, and by me, Alex Cobham – but we are open to suggestions on additional chapters, and also to including multiple co-authors for given chapters where this is appropriate to the contribution. All contributions of any degree will of course be acknowledged. The intention is that the book be published with a leading academic publisher.

We are now inviting comments on, and contributions to, the first chapter. We also welcome any suggestions, critical and/or constructive, about the overall project. If this is successful, we see it as a potential model for future work. In any case, we are keen to make sure we learn as much as we can from the process, in addition to getting as high quality a final volume as possible.

Please do participate if you can, and please share this far and wide with your relevant contacts and networks. Many, many thanks in advance!

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