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The Michelin Guide to Corruption

Paul Mitchell's picture

The recent release of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI)  used to be as eagerly awaited by political leaders as chefs wait for the Michelin Guide’s ratings. Leaders of countries that move up the list or have improved their ratings were quick to announce the findings, taking all the credit for improvements.  Leaders of countries whose ratings have fallen in the index did not seem as motivated to go public accepting responsibility or promising to improve.
 

The majority of the 180 countries included in the 2009 index score below five on a scale from 0 to 10. No country scored 0, perhaps signaling optimism even in the worst circumstances. Given the lack of progress among the most corrupt countries is anyone trying new ways to reduce corruption?

You Know and Use Web 2.0 Tools. What About Those of Science 2.0?

Susan Moeller's picture

Often the best way to communicate information about some distant event, issue or trend is to embed the news in a story that focuses on the experience of an individual.  Human incidents get the public’s attention—audiences identify with and react emotionally to stories about people.

Yet in the development sector, often the real news that needs to be told is not the human anecdotes but the statistics that have been collected.  But how can a non-technical audience understand a bunch of numbers?  How can the public see not only a trend, but a pattern, discover not just scale, but relationships?

The field of data visualization is exploding in importance as new technologies and software help government agencies speak to their constituencies,  multilateral organizations to their member states, NGOs to their donors, media outlets to their viewers and readers.  It now takes seconds to sift through reams of information and identify elusive patterns, locate important outliers, or confirm gut instincts.  The connections that can be made are only limited by the creativity and insights of those who have access to the information.  
 

Reflecting on Mumbai

Caroline Jaine's picture

I do not have to be Indian to feel the sense of sorrow and unfathomable injustice as this month the world remembers the Mumbai attacks of a year ago.  Many times we seem to have shaken our pitiful heads and said “never again” after a grand scale terror attack, but still man continues to kill man for an increasingly bizarre list of reasons.  Political pressure, ignorance, social emasculation, brainwashing and drug addiction are amongst the culprits.

In the year since Mumbai, across the region we have seen murderers in Pakistan turn on their own people – with a recent gruesome blast in a Peshawar market killing over 100, mainly women and children, with no real explanation that I could fathom. Again, I do not have to be Pakistani to feel a sense of sorrow. 
 

Corruption, Game Theory, and Rational Irrationality

Fumiko Nagano's picture

If we had to name one reason why petty corruption is so difficult to tackle, it has to be that it makes sense for people to engage in it than not. Unlike measures such as smoking bans, seatbelt laws, and drinking and driving laws where there is a clear individual benefit to those who do the “right thing,” corruption bans are hard to enforce because there aren’t easily discernible individual benefits to those who obey them. Rather, in countries where corruption is systemic, people who do what is right and follow whatever anti-corruption law might be in place will find themselves losing out to those who don’t.

In fact, with corruption, individual opinion doesn’t seem to matter much in one’s decision whether to engage in it. In theory, most people believe that corruption is wrong. But in practice, the incentive that motivates an individual’s behavior in a corruption-prone situation is their perception of what everyone else would do in a similar situation. Would your pregnant colleague pay a bribe so that she could jump the queue and get an H1N1 vaccination when the vaccines are in limited supply? Would your neighbor, an entrepreneur, slip a few notes to a civil servant under the table to expedite the process of obtaining a business license? If the answer to each of these questions is a “yes,” then why should you bother going against the system alone? Why should you do the right thing and find yourself at a disadvantage to everyone else who will do what it takes to obtain what they need given the environment and culture in which they live?

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"There are three complementary models of behavior change implicit in many public health communication campaigns.  The individual effects model focuses on individuals as they improve their knowledge and attitudes and assumes that individual exposure to messages affects individual behavior.  The social diffusion model focuses on the process of change among social groups.  The institutional diffusion model focuses on the change in elite opinion, which is translated into institutional behavior, including policy changes, which in turn affect individual behavior. The models contrast the direct effects of seeing mass media materials... with the indirect effects of the social diffusion model, (wherein) discussion within a social network is stimulated by PSAs (public service announcements) or media coverage of an issue; that discussion may produce changed social norms about appropriate behavior, and affect the likelihood that each member of the social network will adopt the new behavior.  In the institutional diffusion model, media coverage of an issue may operate through either one or both of two mechanisms.  Media coverage may affect public norms that affect institutional behavior or policymaker actions, or media coverage may lead policymakers to think an issue an issue is important and requires action, regardless of whether public norms have actually changed."

- Prof. Robert C. Hornik (2002, pp.14-15)
Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change

Transparency Delayed, Transparency Denied?

Antonio Lambino's picture

Is transparency delayed, transparency denied? How about when disasters, such typhoons or earthquakes, strike? Should transparency and citizen access to information as regards the disbursement of calamity funds be considered a priority? Or should transparency temporarily take a back seat during disasters with all efforts going into emergency response?

CommGAP at UNCAC Conference of State Parties, Doha

Fumiko Nagano's picture

Yesterday, CommGAP and UNODC co-hosted a side event during the Third Conference of the State Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, taking place this week in Doha, Qatar. Entitled, “Media Relations and Good Practices in Awareness-Raising Campaigns,” the event consisted of two sessions, focusing on the importance of media relations for an anti-corruption agency to get its message across to the public and generate public support, and of awareness raising campaigns to engage the public in the fight against corruption.

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

November 9th is an ambiguous day for Germany. On November 9, 1938, the Nazis killed 400 Jews, arrested about 30,000 more, destroyed over 800 synagogues and thousands of homes and businesses in the Kristallnacht, a pogrom against German and Austrian Jews.

About half a century later, on November 9, 1989, Germans in East and West Berlin stormed the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the Cold War, and brought down the Iron Curtain, literally with their own hands. I lived in East Germany when people started going out into the streets, chanting "We are the people" and demanding more freedom from the communist government. In September 1989 the first so called Monday Demonstration brought people out onto the street in Leipzig, first to pray for peace, then to demand freedom. I remember the exhilarating feeling when those demonstrations spread through other cities and drew more and more people until hundreds of thousands of East Germans protested - peacefully, without violence - for their rights.

Putting the E in Parliaments

Paul Mitchell's picture

I recently spoke at the World e-Parliament 2009 Conference held in Washington at the US House of Representatives. The conference attracted representatives from all Parliaments and was attended by more than 300 Members of Parliament, Clerks or Secretary -Generals of Parliaments, their deputies and other people working on e-Parliaments. With a global centre in Rome partially funded by the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs, the group tries to coordinate and develop ICT systems for Parliaments. They strongly believe that ICT can be a tool for greater transparency and accountability of Parliaments and a larger platform for public consultation and interaction with citizens. They are looking at ways to harness new technologies for this purpose. 

Quote of the Week

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"Participation is, clearly, the proper avenue of approach to the study of public opinion, for, in various senses, public opinion is participating opinion. But the legitimation of participation rests on the older, broader, and more philosophical proposition that just governments are governments to which, in some sense, the subjects have given their consent. Like participation, consent is never perfect, and like it also there are variations in forms of consent. Since we can hardly say that nonexistent opinion can be public opinion, we can hardly say that a primitive and inarticulate acceptance of a governing order is really consent."

 

Francis Graham Wilson, 1962
A Theory of Public Opinion

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