One of the dilemmas voiced by anti-corruption agencies at the UNODC-CommGAP organized learning event on the role of communication in anti-corruption efforts last November was the challenge of working with the media. On the one hand, anti-corruption agencies understood the importance of media relations. On the other, many of them had had unpleasant experiences with journalists, leaving them frustrated and suspicious of the media profession as a whole.
"When corruption is king, there is no accountability of leadership and no trust in authority. Society devolves to the basic units of family and self, to the basic instincts of getting what you can when you can, because you don’t believe anything better will ever come along. And when the only horizon is tomorrow, how can you care about the kind of nation you are building for your children and your grandchildren? How can you call on your government to address what ails society and build stronger institutions? "
Visiting Fellow at St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford; Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development; and former Executive Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria.
The current, mainstream approach to anti-corruption work by the international community involves establishing a normative framework (such as the comprehensive United Nations Convention against Corruption) that details a set of recommended standards for countries to meet, requesting that countries ratify the framework, and assisting them in achieving these standards. The framework lists specific measures designed to help countries prevent and control corruption, such as the establishment of independent anti-corruption commissions, creation of transparent procurement and public financial management systems, and promotion of codes of conduct for public officials rooted in ethics and integrity, to name a few.
There's nothing worse that can happen to a young scholar at her first conference presentation than having one of the big founders of one's academic field sit in the first row and stare intently at her poor little PowerPoint presentation. This happened to me with Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, one of the most eminent figures in the field of contemporary communication studies.
Fighting against crime and corruption means to fight battles on all kinds of fronts. Institutional reform is one of them: you need to establish accountability institutions outside the executive government to reduce the abuse of executive power. But - rule by law is not rule of law. Institutional reform is only one front.
I always find puzzling how easily techno-enthusiasts believe that new information software and gizmos can successfully address many problems for democratic communication. I guess it’s part of the perennial search for quick magic bullets to solve the miseries of the world.
BBC News has a story today (December 3, 2008) about the travails of Nuhu Ribadu. Ribadu was until recently the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria. He made a name for himself as a fearless pursuer of the corrupt. Human Rights Watch reports that Ribadu is - despite of the loss of his job - at the receiving end of an 'escalating campaign of harassment' and that attempts have been made on his life. The full report is worth reading.
As has been reported on this blog by my colleague, Tony Lambino, CommGAP recently organized a workshop for anti-corruption agencies in partnership with the UNODC. One of the reasons we were keen to support these agencies with an array of communication-based techniques and approaches was the observed fact of the often perilously isolated position of these agencies in their own environments. Yet they are meant to take on powerful interests in their societies.
Vienna International Center, Austria -- The third and final day of the CommGAP-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) communication and anti-corruption learning event featured the following topics: the role of communication in changing social norms and behavior that support corruption; the communicative dimensions of anti-corruption bodies; and a brainstorming session on the ways in which UNODC and CommGAP can support the global anti-corruption community of practice.