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Your opinion matters!

Posted by iaccforum on November 7, 2008

Just a brief call to our loyal readers to encourage you to add your voice to the debate on corruption. Whenever you see a post on this blog, just click on the highlighted link below it that reads ‘no comments’ or ‘1 comment’ or ’32 comments’ to leave your contribution.

It doesn’t have to be long, or earth-shattering (as long as it’s not offensive or libellous!). We want to know what you think!

The IACC Forum

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Transparency International: The Magician

Posted by iaccforum on November 7, 2008

A hundred dollar bill, your money, dissapears in a puff of smoke. Magic? Impenetrable mystery? Think again. It’s just plain theft. Watch again in slow motion and we see where the money goes. Corruption is hidden by those who profit from it – but you *can* reveal the mystery, and make the corrupt accountable for their theft.

Transparency International

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The 13th IACC: A Collective Commitment

Posted by iaccforum on November 6, 2008

Seeking to put an end to the misery, alienation and instability that corruption breeds, the 13th IACC closed with a call, in the Athens Agenda, the final conference communiqué, to address corruption, to strengthen financial, environmental and natural resources governance and enable equitable development.

“In the spirit of ethical inquiry and justice, the global anti-corruption community today sets forth with delegates returning to their countries, rich and poor, carrying ideas, tools and practical solutions to prevent and stop corruption,” said the Honourable Justice Barry O’Keefe, Chair of the IACC Council on the conclusion of the conference. “It is imperative that governments, business and civil society work together to fight corruption to ensure a cleaner, healthier and fairer world”, added O’Keefe.

The 13th IACC brought together more than 1300 participants from 135 countries who, in the closing statement of the conference, recognised the central role of transparency and accountability in mitigating the current financial crisis and preventing future failures. During the four-day IACC, participants explored how corruption undermines all facets of sustainability: fostering conflict and violence, distorting natural resource exploitation; aggravating climate change and hampering our response to it; and deepening global inequalities.

Inter-disciplinary cooperation was identified as a priority for the anti-corruption movement, with the recognition that the linkages between corruption and climate change, and corruption and human rights needed to be more fully explored and integrated.

Participants also recognised the long-term importance to the anti-corruption movement’s work of the UN Convention against Corruption as the global, comprehensive anti-corruption framework for preventing and combating corruption was recognised, as well as the urgent need need to spur political will for ratification and the review mechanism.

The need for greater civil society engagement on issues ranging from asset recovery to political finance was echoed by many and governments were therefore called upon to ensure the space and the freedom for civil society to operate. Civil society was also called on to bolster its own governance.

The global financial crisis was an omnipresent factor in many of the conference’s discussions. There was concern that the crisis poses a threat as companies seek to cut costs and governments scale back development assistance, further burdening the poorest countries. But it was also seen as presenting opportunities for the anti-corruption movement, in terms of a closer focus on corporate governance and financial regulation, particularly on a global scale. Above all, commitments were made to do the utmost to prevent the financial crisis from undermining progress made in the fight against corruption. The Athens Agenda noted that if the anticorruption movement is to remain relevant and effective, that it must recognise diversity, the role of power structures and mechanisms of exclusion. Furthermore, efforts must be made to reach and mobilise people from all quarters, and from all age groups.

The reality that corruption harms all people and ultimately all communities, but that the poorest bear the greatest burden, was echoed throughout the conference. And their sustainable livelihoods were recognised as being the first priority, starting with endeavours to give them a stronger voice. Informed and empowered citizens are the most powerful tools against corruption.

The declaration concludes that, “on a global scale, our fates are intimately linked.” As they returned to their home countries, participants committed themselves “fervently to fighting corruption in order to guarantee our common sustainable future, so that we can hand coming generations a cleaner, healthier and fairer world than the one we inherited.”

The full text of the Athens Agenda is available at: 13iacc.org/en/IACC/Conference_Agenda

From conference newsletter IACC Today, 3 November 2008

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Obama and the fight against corruption: What do you think his priorities should be?

Posted by iaccforum on November 6, 2008

The world is still digesting the historic presidential victory of Senator Barack Obama in the United States on 4 November. And although it is already a shop-worn cliché that expectations of Obama are astronomically high, with countries, organisations and individuals everywhere projecting their interests onto that blank slate called ‘change’, the Obama administration will have real opportunities to make a difference  when it takes up its work on 20 January 2009.

Already, a number of civil society organisations have entered the fray, with their recommendations to the US President-elect on the environment, on global poverty and on human rights. But what about corruption and governance?

In a New York Times article published today (“Campaign Pledge on Ethics Could Become Obstacle to Filling White House Jobs“), journalist David D. Kirkpatrick speculates that Obama may be hampered in recruiting top talent by his pledges to:

post online all of his appointees’ employment histories and personal financial disclosures, along with regular updates of any meetings or conversations they hold with registered lobbyists.

The article provides a glimpse of the positions Obama was promoting on the campaign trail with regards to integrity and transparency, policies he presumably wants to implement once in the White House. But will he be able to afford these brave new measures? What about the fight against corruption beyond American borders? Corruption remains a massive issue in both Iraq and Afghanistan, threatening to erase any progress in stability (and in some cases, implicating American military personnel and civilians). And what about the role of corruption in undermining development?

What do you think Barack Obama’s priorities should be in the fight against corruption, domestically and internationally? We welcome your comments – just click the link after this article which reads ‘X comments’!

Jesse Garcia

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Tackling Corruption for Human Development in the Asia-Pacific

Posted by iaccforum on October 31, 2008

An expert panel debate, ‘Tackling Corruption for Human Development in the Asia-Pacific’, at the 13th IACC in Athens, Greece, on 2 November 2008 focuses on tackling corruption to improve human lives – to promote human development – rather than as an end in itself. It draws from the Asia-Pacific Human Development Report Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives, coordinated by the Human Development Report Unit at the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo.

The debate is about the Asia Pacific – a region that is rapidly growing, yet attempting the twin tasks of development and democratic consolidation at the same time. Four eminent expert panelists are to participate: Dr. Kiran Bedi (India), Mr. Kunda Dixit (Nepal), H.E. Dr.M. Osman Farruk (Bangladesh), and Honourable Justice Nazhat Shameem (Fiji). Their knowledge and experience in combating corruption is well known. BBC’s Nisha Pillai, who hosts ‘Asia Today’ and will be the expert moderator.

What’s different about this debate?

  • It focuses on pervasive ‘petty’ corruption, especially because of its impact on daily lives, on the poor and its emergence in situations of shortages where people may have little choice for survival. It compromises basic human rights. Petty corruption is actually a misnomer, underplaying its wide spread and persistence. The dollar amounts may be small, but number of transactions are numerous, and impacts corrosive. A better term is ‘retail’ corruption.         
  • It also addresses corruption that may be technically legal – when private interests undermine laws through state capture. This restricts people’s opportunities, undermining human rights.
  • Going beyond how corruption affects human development, the debate will also address human development itself, through people’s rights, voice and choice – can be part of the solution. What has worked well? Good practice and not so-good practices will be discussed.

For more on the debate please visit: http://www2.undprcc.lk/Publications/IACC1.pdf, for more on Tackling Corruption Transforming Lives, please visit: http://www.undprcc.lk/ext/crhdr/home.asp

UNDP

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Former Chair of Nigerian EFCC says his “life is in serious danger”

Posted by iaccforum on October 31, 2008

The controversial former Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu asked a Lagos court yesterday to protect him from “powerful forces” threatening his safety, saying he feared he was in danger of being “eliminated”.

This disturbing scenario illustrates the smoke-and-mirrors world that characterises the front lines of the fight against corruption, where anti-corruption campaigners themselves become the targets of accusations of illicit behaviour and, often, of physical threats.

Ribadu made a name for himself with an aggressive (some said too agressive) approach to pursuing corrupt officials as the head of the EFCC. When it was announced a year ago that he was being temporarily moved from his post, and from Abuja, for a mandatory 12-month professional education course, supporters rallied around Ribadu, alleging that forces within the government, uncomfortable with his “gloves off” approach to fighting bribery and abuse of power, were using the course as a pretense for stripping him of his post.

Jesse Garcia

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Using social media to change how we fight corruption

Posted by iaccforum on October 31, 2008

Internet-based social media has profoundly changed the way we engage with others in the private and public sphere. Social activists, political campaigners, NGOs, government and business all increasingly make use of the connective power of these communication approaches and tools to mobilise support, generate knowledge, deliver services and engage with stakeholders.

How does this relate to the fight against corruption? There are many ways in which concepts and tools can be adapted and used to serve the needs of the anti-corruption movement. Concepts, ideas and examples are being discussed on the blog Accountability2.0 accompanying an IACC workshop being held at 17:00 on 1 November. Let me share with you here a couple of ideas about the direction this is going: 

Fighting corruption becomes:

1) Collaborative and crowd-based. It is now much easier to link up with people and groups working on the same issues, and gather them in a wider and more tightly-linked anti-corruption movement. The other advantages are the opportunities to join up with individual activists, and motivate and integrate the average citizen through small actions they can take.

2) De-centralised. De-centralised action and organisational forms can be established where it is necessary. One example is the global protests organised on 4 February under the moto “A Million Voices Against FARC” using Facebook as a platform. Demostrations were organised all over the world. Especially under restrictive regimes, where the right of civil society to organize is challenged, social media can be used to organise, meet virtually and work together without physically being together.

3) Empowering. Social media can empower people that want to change things. It enables a bottom-up approach by giving voice to the people most affected. By contributing their experience, easily done via blogs, twitter, or a wiki, their voices can be heard and faces can be put to the devastating effects of corruption.

Georg Neumann, Social Transparency Blog

Posted in IACC Workshop | 1 Comment »

Socrates is guest of honour at opening of 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference

Posted by iaccforum on October 31, 2008

Among the many illustrious speakers at the opening session of the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference(IACC) in Athens, Greece, there was one, unofficial guest who seemed to take a spectral seat of honour at the proceedings: the enigmatic, ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.

Costas Bakouris, Chair of Transparency International Hellas, Transparency International’s (TI) Greek chapter, hailed Socrates’ unflinching commitment to the rule of law, recalling how, in Plato’s account in the Apologia, Socrates chose to accept the death sentence of an Athenian jury despite his innocence. He chose to accept due process, rather than to swindle his way out and live.

Like us, Socrates lived in an age where democratic traditions hung in the balance, and like us, he sought to construct a rational intellectual framework to better understand the world around him, and to find better solutions to its problems.

But despite the hurdles it faces, the anti-corruption movement can hardly claim to be lonely or doomed, as Socrates was in his last days, with an IACC opening with nearly 1500 attendees from over 130 countries.

Transparency International Chair, Huguette Labelle, acknowledged the rational framework of the anti-corruption movement, and the importance of laws and enforcement, but brought the focus back to the human cost of corruption and the true purpose of the conference noting that ultimately, “this is about human lives”. And Greek Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, spoke of corruption as our common enemy and fighting it as our common cause.

As the opening session broke, attendees gathered in corridors and courtyards and began heated debates on approaches and strategies to neutralise the damaging effects of corruption on communities, markets and societies – debates that sought commonalities as well as fallacies in the others reasoning, to elicit the best solution to the problems we face.

Socrates would have been proud.

Jesse Garcia

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Daniel Altman on China’s anti-corruption drive

Posted by iaccforum on October 29, 2008

 

This week I was in Hong Kong, where the government is pushing its “zero tolerance” anti-corruption campaign through ubiquitous ads and billboards. It’s an interesting development for the city, where money and connections have always gotten things done. But it echoes the anti-corruption drive on China’s mainland, perhaps for good reason.

The government in Beijing has made the fight against corruption one of its hallmarks through a series of high-profile cases involving local and provincial officials. The fight has a populist angle, which is important for a non-democratic government trying to reign over a vast nation.

Between the headlines, the message is that the politicians in power are sticking up for the little guy – in other words, that they are worthy of the little guy’s trust. Yet that’s only part of how the campaign helps the government. Cleaning out corruption means creating more transparency in local and provincial bureaucracies, and thus more accountability.

As these changes take place, it becomes easier for Beijing to monitor every corner of the country. We often think of anti-corruption measures as part of the improvement of democracy, but China has apparently realized that they can also help an authoritarian government to maintain – and even to extend – its control.

Daniel Altman is the global economics columnist of the International Herald Tribune and president of North Yard Economics, a not-for-profit consulting firm serving developing countries.

Copyright 2008 Daniel Altman. All rights reserved.

 

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TI Founder, Peter Eigen, reflects on the strength of the IACC

Posted by iaccforum on October 24, 2008

Looking back at the involvement of Transparency International in organising the IACC, I remember the moment in 1995  when I attended the 6th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Beijing, when the Chinese hosts invited TI to assume the role of secretariat for IACC going forward. Little did I know how important this challenge would become for our young movement. In retrospect I am happy and proud that we took on this task.

Today I am participating as Chairman of an important spin-off of TI and other CSOs, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). I am delighted about the exposure I can give this new venture to the many participants of the 13th IACC. The IACC platform is a tremendous benefit for the EITI and  numerous other initiatives and programs working together for better global governance – fighting corruption for a sustainable future.

Peter Eigen, TI Founder and Chair of EITI

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