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'Citizens Against Corruption: Report from the Front Line'

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Prepared by Partnership for Transparency Fund

Citizens Against Corruption: Report From The Front Line tells the story of how groups of courageous and dedicated citizens across the globe are taking direct action to root out corruption. Based on extensive practical experience through the work over more than a decade supported by The Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), this book shows how ordinary people are no longer prepared to accept the predatory activities of dishonest officials and are successfully challenging their scams.

Author Landell-Mills, co-founder and first president of PTF, states: “This book draws on over 200 case studies that describe impressive initiatives undertaken over the past decade by 130 civil society organizations (CSOs) in 53 countries which engage directly with public agencies to stop the bribery and extortion that damages peoples’ lives and obstructs social and economic progress.”

He adds, “This book challenges the notion that, at best, civil society can only have a marginal impact on reducing corruption. Quite the opposite; it argues that CSOs have demonstrated again and again that their impact can be game-changing.”

Examples from some of the poorest countries in the world show how a single CSO initiative can save several million dollars. Several million such initiatives can transform the way government does business, making public agencies accountable to those they serve.  The message is clear: aid donors need to radically rethink their assistance for governance reform, tilting it dramatically in favour of supporting CSOs.

The book is in four parts.

Part 1 analyses the role citizens can play in fighting corruption and promoting good governance and briefly tells the story of the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF). 

Part 2 presents four country studies (India, Mongolia, Philippines, and Uganda—each with its unique history and distinctive circumstances), to illustrate activities undertaken by civil society organizations (CSOs) to root out corruption. These describe the tools and approaches that CSOs are using successfully to build pressure on corrupt public agencies to become transparent and accountable.

Part 3 addresses key themes—strengthening the rule of law, putting in place effective national anti-corruption strategies and institutions, making public buying and selling honest, promoting grass roots monitoring of public expenditures and the provision of public services, mounting media campaigns to expose and defeat corruption, and empowering ordinary citizens to keep watch on what actually happens at the point of delivery of public services. 

Part 4 summarizes what has been learnt and explores the potential, as well as the risks and limitations of the civic activism in a world where greed and dishonesty is the norm—talking to power. Finally, the book explores the opportunities and dangers faced by aid donors in supporting local CSOs and charts a way forward.

About the Author
Pierre Landell-Mills is a development economist with a long standing interest in political economy and governance issues. He was the founder and first president of Partnership for Transparency Fund (2000 – 10) and was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Bath (2001-2006). He worked for 10 years in Africa before joining the World Bank in 1973. He was the lead author of the 1983 World Development Report on Managing Development and the 1989 World Bank report on Sub-Sahara Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Development.

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