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A closer look at Mongolia’s anti-corruption drive

In a paper for the European Foundation for Democracy, Holger Loewendorf, a senior advisor at the think tank, takes a closer look at Mongolia and how its rule of law is progressing. He writes:

“Following a peaceful revolution in 1990, Mongolia has transitioned to a multi-party electoral democracy with institutionalized political rights and civil liberties. But corruption remained a persistent problem, so much so that two scandals – one involving coal exports and the other cheap education loans by politicians – prompted massive protests in December
2022. Popular discontent led to a governmental push for reforms in the spring of 2023, including the introduction of a mixed electoral system to increase the representativeness and responsiveness of parliament. Anticorruption efforts are seen as a crucial element of these reforms and are one of the country’s priorities. Mongolia’s success in fighting corruption
has important implications, both for the future of domestic politics and international relations.

So what has Mongolia done thus far? In April of last year, the country’s Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) unveiled a comprehensive 2030 national strategy to combat corruption across all facets of public life. The strategy’s objectives include public service reform, improving citizen participation and public awareness,
strengthening the independence of state institutions, reducing the risk of corruption in budgeting and procurement as well as tackling theft, embezzlement, and waste. As part of this process, the IAAC adapted over 40 laws and implemented recommendations from international financial institutions and development organizations.


The new anti-corruption strategy is already showing results. Figures due to be released by the IAAC in this week have found a significant decrease in corruption losses. In 2022, according to the preliminary findings, 5 trillion MNT (Mongolian Tugriks), or about 1,35 billion Euros at the current exchange rate, disappeared as a result of corruption, with MNT
2,3 trillion (or about 622 million Euros) in recovered assets. In 2023, the corresponding numbers were MNT 845 billion (or about 229 million Euros) lost and MNT 17 billion (or about 4,6 million Euros) recovered.  This represents an 83% reduction in losses during the “Year of Fighting Corruption”, indicating a remarkable success for Mongolia.”

He concludes:

“The scope of Mongolia’s recent initiatives suggests that this is not merely a political but a societal effort, if not a more profound cultural shift. The country has long recognised that there is a positive correlation between transparency and democracy – and that the fight against corruption serves both.”