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Archive for October, 2008

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

Posted in News | 1 Comment »

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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Political corruption behind financial crisis, says poll

Posted by iaccforum on October 24, 2008

A new survey carried out by Judicial Watch in conjunction with polling firm Zogby International has found that over 80 per cent of Americans think that political corruption is partly to blame for the current financial crisis. What began over a year ago in the US sub-prime mortgage market and has spread since, freezing credit markets, bankrupting storied financial institutions and now threatening the global economy.

A 24 October article in The New York Times, “West in Talks on Credit to Aid Poorer Nations”, makes clear that the crisis does not just threaten Wall Street and major financial centres, but also threatens to unravel the recent strides made by emerging markets from Iceland and Hungary to South Africa and Argentina, who are now starved of credit for capital improvements and whose devalued currencies have made it difficult for them to repay the foreign debts they have accrued.

Is all this the result of political corruption inside the Washington beltway? This is a provocative theory. What is certain, though, is that the crisis is one of governance and accountability more broadly, from the regulation of mortgage markets and the financial transparency of banks to the prescriptions of intergovernmental institutions embodied by the Washington Consensus of the 1990s.

But despite the human suffering that the current financial crunch brings with it, it bears opportunities as well. Domestic and international financial regulation, and corporate governance will be reinvented in its wake. The 13th IACC in Athens will be an opportunity to strategise about how the frustration and anxiety of the current crisis can be channelled into greater accountability and sensible oversight.

Jesse Garcia

Posted in Commentary, Financial Crisis | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Welcome to the official IACC blog!

Posted by iaccforum on October 20, 2008

Welcome to the IACC Forum, the blog for the International Anti-Corruption Conference. This blog will provide information about the IACC and serve as a platform for the many stakeholders involved in the global fight against corruption.

From 30 October to 2 November 2008 the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference (www.13iacc.org) will be held in Athens, Greece, under the banner “Global Transparency: Fighting Corruption for a Sustainable Future”. Check back here throughout the conference – and afterwards! – for insightful posts, controversial articles and colourful commentary from Athens and beyond.

Posted in Introduction | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »