International Anti-Corruption Conference Blog

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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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