Waging War On Corruption
Inside The Movement Fighting The Abuse Of Power
From the introduction…
As discussed in this book, corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. Corruption involves:
theft of public funds by government leaders, senior public officials and their cronies;
bribes being paid to those who hold public sector power – at even the lowest levels of the civil service – by those seeking special favors; and,
extortion by politicians and civil servants to obtain illicit payments from ordinary people and from businesses by threatening them with bitter consequences if they do not pay, or by withholding basic services from them.
The Arab Spring is a seminal event. It inspired public protests from New Delhi to New York and from Minsk to Moscow and in time the protests will multiply and embrace dozens of countries. Tens of thousands of Tunisians and Egyptians started it, risking their lives and overcoming their fears to denounce their illegitimate governments.
[Sri Lankan investigative journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga]
Sri Lankan investigative journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga receiving the 2000 Integrity Awards from Frank Vogl. In January 2009, Lasantha was murdered. It was widely reported as a political assassination in retribution for his years of writing about governmental corruption.
Now, people in many countries are taking action on an unprecedented scale in what is emerging as a war on the abuse of power. They are standing up for their dignity and for integrity. They are demonstrating for justice and for honest government. They are confronting corrupt leaders and elites….
The voices of anger have risen, and will rise still higher, to confront the vile conspiracies between crooked businessmen and crooked public officials. Across the Internet, global TV and the print media, we see the despots and their cronies enjoying lavish luxuries, oblivious to the misery and the hardship they create and we all recognize the ugly face of greed and arrogance.
….The clarion call emerged from Tahrir Square and it was heard everywhere. In the White House, the voices of the poor in North Africa and the Middle East turned strategic policies on their head. President Obama decided to side with the citizens and against the dictators who for years were viewed as the “friends” of the West.
The message that the protesters are sending is clear: the anti-corruption train has left the station and it is gathering speed towards a destination called good governance. The journey will be long, there will be interruptions and setbacks, and some carriages may not make it all the way, but many will.
Every individual has a fundamental right to be treated by those who hold governmental power with respect and with honesty. Accordingly, all people engaged in public service need to serve the people and all of their interests. Public officials who serve their own interests and abuse their offices and the public trust are corrupt. They should face justice for their crimes, as should all those who pay bribes.
….This is a long war. There will always be corrupt politicians and government officials. Moreover, the scale of the problem is enormous…. The ten countries perceived as the most corrupt in a global ranking of 183 countries in 2011 were: Venezuela, Haiti, Iraq, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, and worst of all, Somalia!
There is a vastly diverse range of courageous heroes and Machiavellian characters bestriding the global corruption stage. Like a great Shakespearian play there are major plots and diversions, stars and bit-players, the valiant who are cut down in their prime, and scoundrels who create awesome misery.
This is a story of anti-corruption activists, victims of corruption and the villains. As the tale evolves and the building blocks that have been put in place over the last 20 years are seen as part of a rising edifice, so a bold conclusion comes into focus: we are living now at a moment when, perhaps for the first time, we can cautiously conclude that a tipping point has been reached. Many of the gains being made in the anti-corruption war are solid and greater victories are in prospect, even though, as I note below, some crucial outstanding issues need to be addressed far more comprehensively.
The positive story of so much of this book is shaped by people who are making a remarkable difference to the course of our civilization. These heroes are the women and men who are fearlessly demonstrating in the streets; the investigative reporters and their courageous editors who tell the story as it is; the bold civil society activists; the academics who are strengthening our understanding of the complexities of curbing corruption; the public prosecutors who are challenging powerful tycoons and politicians; the philanthropists who are funding so many good works in this area; and, those business people and public servants who are determined to hold true to values of integrity, irrespective of peer pressures.
As more people become aware of the risks that corruption poses – not only to our security, democracy and human rights, but to the plight of hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people – so the prospects of finding effective solutions is likely to rise. Today, more people in more countries have a keener sense of being able to confront abuses of government power, while fully recognizing the dangers that speaking truth to power often involves.
Thousands of citizens died in 2011 as they were gunned down by the armies of their corrupt leaders in Egypt and Libya and Syria and Iran. Many individuals working as investigative journalists, as advocates of human rights and anti-corruption, have bean beaten by the authorities and sometimes assassinated. Their bravery has not been in vain. Despite the dangers and despite the seemingly awesome obstacles in the path of corruption fighters, every day sees a strengthening of national anti-corruption movements in dozens of countries. More people are joining the ranks of the demonstrators as more people become well informed on abuses of power in their countries through both the mainstream media and via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Campaigning organizations are growing as the spirit of the Arab Spring takes hold and as two decades of battles against corruption yield experience, credibility and influence that is being – and will continue to be – more effectively deployed than ever before.
From The Conclusion
On December 10, 2011, three African women received the Nobel Peace Prize, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee from, Liberia, and Tawakkol Karman from Yemen. Thorbjørn Jagland, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee concluded his speech in Oslo with a quotation from the American author and civil rights advocate James Baldwin, who wrote: “The people that once walked in darkness are no longer prepared to do so.” Mr. Jagland added, “Make a note of that! – all those who wish to be on the right side of history.”