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anti-corruption

If Only Corruption Could Be Defeated with Pocket-Less Trousers

Fumiko Nagano's picture

We at CommGAP are interested in learning how to change social norms as key to fighting petty corruption. When looking at the issue of norms as they relate to corrupt practices, as with most issues, there are two sides to the petty corruption equation: citizens who pay bribes and public servants who accept them. A number of posts on this blog have dealt with the importance of getting citizens to view bribery as wrong. So what about public servants? How do you get them to stop demanding and accepting bribes from citizens?

A couple of interesting solutions to this question were found in Nepal and Kazakhstan, as reported by the BBC earlier this year. In Nepal, in order to fight petty corruption at its main international airport, the government planned to put in place an unusual measure: making airport employees wear pants without pockets to prevent them from taking bribes from travelers. In Kazakhstan, one of the government’s anti-corruption initiatives included making civil servants wear badges saying “I am against corruption,” in the hopes that those wearing such badges would think twice before demanding bribes.

Citizen Inspectors General to the Rescue

Fumiko Nagano's picture

According to The Financial Times, the U.S. government’s Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board plans to launch in October what the FT calls “the most complex government website in history." The Recovery Board, an independent body headed by Chairman Earl Devaney, is tasked to oversee the outflow of the US $787 billion stimulus package to jumpstart the ailing economy, and the state-of the-art website is intended to engage citizens in tracking the use of taxpayer money.

What caught my attention is the premise behind this initiative—that citizens know best what is happening in their own communities. In an effort to rein in waste, fraud, and abuse of stimulus funds, the Recovery Board is putting into practice the principles of accountability and transparency through partnership with citizens. The Board understands that to carry out its mandate successfully, it needs to equip citizens with information so that they can help the Board do its job. As Mr. Devaney explains, “The website will unleash a million citizen IGs [inspectors-general].”

Social Networking Sites: Getting People to Speak Their Minds

Fumiko Nagano's picture

On Facebook, I have noticed an interesting trend: some of my friends who are normally introverted and shy in person are a lot more vocal and seem to have fewer qualms about voicing their opinions on the site. They post status updates sharing their thoughts on issues, comment on others’ posts, and provide links to websites, articles, photos and videos about topics that they deem important, even creating interest-specific groups to attract those who are keen to participate in online discussions on key causes. Part of this phenomenon might be psychological. Maybe we feel a certain degree of safety on social networking sites because they give us the option not to have to engage in physical, face-to-face interactions with those who might disagree. On these interfaces, there is no need to worry about potentially negative consequences arising from differences in opinion, such as ridicule, humiliation, confrontation, and isolation. If social networking sites can embolden even the shiest of us to voice our true opinions, could they be the answer to breaking the spiral of silence on contested issues?

Shock and Awe? The Effects of Negative Framing

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Framing is about presenting an issue in a specific light and from a specific perspective. Framed messages are usually intended to make the audience focus on certain aspects of an issue but not on others. In terms of governance and accountability, framing is a useful technique to design communication in a way that mobilizes the public. For instance with regard to corruption: to mobilize public opinion on corruption one could focus on successes in fighting corruption, on negative effects of corruption, on corrupt individuals or individual champions against corruption etc. Negative framing, negative messaging in general, is a frequently used approach when trying to motivate people to become active. It's not clear, however, that it really works the way it's supposed to.

A Gecko Challenging A Crocodile: Anti-Corruption Agency vs. Vested Interests

Fumiko Nagano's picture

The New York Times recently published an article about the experience of Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission, whose existence is being threatened precisely because it is so very good at doing its job of fighting corruption. Sound like a conundrum? Hardly.

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"When you fight corruption, it fights back. It will likely have greater resources than you, and it is led by those who operate outside the law and view the fight as life and death for their survival."

- Nuhu Ribadu's Testimony before the US House Financial Services Committee, May 19, 2009.

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.

Keeping the Money Where It Belongs

Fumiko Nagano's picture

Transparency International’s 2009 Global Corruption Barometer, published last month, details the results of an opinion survey on the public’s perceptions and experiences of corruption and bribery around the world. The report contains many interesting findings, but the ones I found particularly notable were the following:

Friend or Foe? Media's Role in Anti-Corruption Work

Fumiko Nagano's picture

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.

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"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? "

- Nuhu Ribadu's Testimony before the US House Financial Services Committee, May 19, 2009.

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.

Changing Norms: Generating Public Will to Fight Corruption

Fumiko Nagano's picture

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.

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