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.
In a post a couple of months back, we announced that CommGAP is co-organizing a learning event on communication’s contribution to anti-corruption efforts with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the international agency responsible for promoting the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.
The event will be held next week at the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria and will bring together government officials working in anti-corruption commissions (ACCs) and experts in communication approaches and techniques that support anti-corruption initiatives. We look forward to learning about real-world challenges as well as communication efforts that have been effective in anti-corruption work in both developed and developing countries. We’ll be posting updates from Vienna – at the end of the first and last days of the event. In the meantime, please find below the latest version of the agenda.
In both the developed and developing world, I've come across people in varying positions of power either hinting or stating in no uncertain terms that I would not receive a government service without "greasing the wheel." Despite wide disparities between low- and high- income country contexts, these experiences left the same bad taste in my mouth. But corrupt practices, including bribery, aren't equal and, in a larger sense, understanding the differences among them puts us in better stead in the global fight against corruption. In a previous post, CommGAP requested feedback on an anti-corruption learning event jointly organized with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. One of the themes of the event will be the role of communication in shifting social norms toward condemning corrupt everyday practices.
I've been with CommGAP for four months now, and since the fall semeser starts at University, it's time for me to take a little break and go back to school. Intermissions are handy occasions to reflect, and I'll make use of this occasion with some thoughts about the role of communication in governance, and my experience at CommGAP.
After more than 10 years of communication practice and training, it often startles me how people are not aware of the crucial meaning of communication in our everyday lives, politics, and yes, development. After four months of development work, I feel that this lack of awareness is shortsighted to the extreme. Here are my top 3 reasons: