"Corruption Is Not Inevitable"

Country: International
Facebook logoTwitter logo

Yesterday, 9 December, was International Anti-Corruption Day. The day was designated to draw attention to the problem of corruption, motivate countries that have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to continue their work to prevent and eradicate corruption, and press countries who have not adopted the convention to do so.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement yesterday:

The cost of corruption is measured not just in the billions of dollars of squandered or stolen government resources, but most poignantly in the absence of the hospitals, schools, clean water, roads and bridges that might have been built with that money and would have certainly changed the fortunes of families and communities.

Corruption destroys opportunities and creates rampant inequalities. It undermines human rights and good governance, stifles economic growth and distorts markets.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton marked the day by championing the Open Government Partnership and highlighting the work it's done to combat corruption here and abroad.

After returning from the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia last month, RWI president Daniel Kaufmann blogged about the modern face of corruption: legal corruption, which can be found in the form of campaign contributions, lobbying or exchange of favors to politicians, regulators and other government officials by companies and individuals.

In many developing countries, legal and illegal corruption coexists, and it has become commonplace for multinational oil and mining companies to collude with elite politicians to deprive citizens of the benefits of their natural resources. Nigeria lost $35 billion over the last 10 years through corruption and mismanagement of its oil industry. The evidence suggests -- and the people of these developing countries attest -- growth cannot sustain where corruption thrives.

The reach of legal corruption, however, is not limited to countries with weak governments. It has also enabled Wall Street investment banks to unduly influence financial oversight institutions, bringing the U.S. and the global economy to the brink four years ago, and in recent months allowed collusion between U.K. and possibly U.S. banks to fix the global interest rate for their benefit.

"Corruption is not inevitable," Ban Ki-moon said in his message. "It flows from greed and the triumph of the undemocratic few over the expectations of the many." Marking International Anti-Corruption Day, we acknowledge that citizens of both rich and poor countries can become victims of corruption, and that the fight against it is far from over.

Suzanne Ito blogs for RWI.

Post new comment