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Thursday 13 December 2018
No more empty promises
By Delia Ferreira Rubio

Delia Ferreira Rubio is the chair of Transparency International. This blog was originally published on 7th December 2018 on the Transparency International global website.
9th December marked International Anti-Corruption Day an important opportunity to highlight the stories of citizens in the fight against corruption across the globe.

 

It is also an historic moment, marking the fifteen years since the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted, making it the largest international anti-corruption treaty with nearly 186 country signatories to date. It also marks the 25th anniversary of Transparency International.

 
 

Corruption no longer taboo

 

As we commemorate , these landmarks, we find ourselves at a critical tipping point in the fight against corruption worldwide.

 

Together, with the global anti-corruption community, we’ve made great strides in preventing and sanctioning corruption and the corrupt. Today, fighting corruption is not only firmly on the international agenda, corruption has ceased to be an acceptable cost of doing business in many countries.

 

Thanks to the hard work of many anti-corruption fighters, we have international, regional and national anti-corruption conventions; laws that promote access to information critical to exposing and ending corruption; and national anti-corruption authorities and agencies to enforce anti-corruption measures.

 

However, while much progress has been made, there is still much work left to do.

 
 

A time for action


 

A growing number of countries have criminalised bribery, increased transparency in public procurement, implemented requirements for companies to disclose their ultimate owners, and extended rules and regulations to the private sector. However, while policies and standards are necessary, they are not enough to turn the tide against corruption.

 

Governments and businesses need to implement and report on anti-corruption efforts, promote access to information for citizens and comply with rules, standards and principles.

 

Transparency International, and its chapters in more than 100 countries, are working to track the compliance of governments and business in keeping their commitments and report on any improvements or failures in their efforts.

 

The time for new promises, unrealized commitments and fig leaf declarations is over — for government and businesses alike. Citizens deserve better than well-intentioned words, now is the time for action.

 
 

Global setbacks


 

Despite some advances, many countries controlled by powerful elites still protect corrupt individuals, grant pardons or pass special laws that benefit a select few. Even more alarming, many of the same political elites try to stop investigative journalists and anti-corruption activists and organizations from speaking out.

 

As a global community, we need to work together to protect and defend civil society whenever and wherever whistleblowers, activists, journalists or civil society organisations (CSOs) are attacked or harassed. When we protect their rights, we defend the rights and freedoms of everyone.

 

Priorities for the future


 

The fight against corruption requires a multi-pronged and synchronized approach to effectively prevent and sanction those who take part in corruption.

 

We won’t end corruption without coordinated action from businesses, governments, communities and activists. A simple formula for an anti-corruption program involves four lines of action: more information, more integrity, less impunity and less indifference.

 
 

The good and bad of technology


 

Greater access to information won’t be achieved by simply approving laws, creating specialized offices or increasing access to data. While those actions go a long way in promoting transparency, they are most effective when combined with other important mechanisms.

 

Technology offers powerful new tools that can strengthen our access to information. At its best, technology can help people combat corruption in their daily lives. This ranges from improving the ease with which people can report issues or rate public services, to their ability to monitor political spending or gather signatures for online petitions.

 

However, we should also be aware of the challenges that technologies pose to individual rights and freedoms, clean and fair elections, political participation and other key aspects of democracy. Technology can also be misappropriated and used in sophisticated ways to hide money and obscure illicit transactions.

 
 

Ending impunity and promoting judicial independence


 

While it may seem obvious, it is essential for corrupt individuals to be held accountable for their actions and face both timely and appropriate consequences. Otherwise, what’s to prevent those individuals from continuing to act corruptly or deter other individuals from doing the same?

 

At the same time, we need to work hard to guarantee that public prosecutors and judges are independent and have the resources and legal authority they need to efficiently investigate, prosecute and sanction those involved in corrupt deals.

 
 

Improving integrity


 

Even those countries that score at the top of the Corruption Perceptions Index are not immune to corruption. Many clean countries operate as safe havens for money launderers, enabling a flow of dirty money across the globe that can often be difficult to detect. Double standards should not exist for those countries that export corruption beyond borders or protect the corrupt, their families or their assets through Golden Visa programs.

 
 

Working together to make a difference


 

To tackle corruption successfully, we need to work together. We need to involve more women and youth. And we need to strengthen and rebuild trust with ordinary citizens, who are the real victims of corruption.

 

Corrupt individuals rob countries of the necessary resources to support infrastructure, hospitals, schools, sanitation and opportunities for development. Stolen funds not only line the pockets of powerful elites, they damage the lives of everyday people by preventing access to lifesaving services.

 

A call to action for citizens


 

Social indifference is a breeding ground for corruption. Beyond institutional reforms, commitment and participation from citizens is essential. If corrupt individuals continue to win votes and elections, they will continue to abuse their power and use their position to protect themselves.

 

On this International Anti-Corruption Day, citizens should send their leaders a clear message: they will no longer tolerate corruption in their country. The fight against corruption is also a fight for transparency, integrity, equality, good governance, rule of law and a strong democracy. Not in their own right, but for the wellbeing and security of billions of global citizens.

 


Transparency International has been fighting corruption around the world for a quarter of a century. As we turn 25 we’re asking what does corruption look like in today’s tumultuous world, and importantly how we can best fight it? For this blog series we’ve canvassed opinion from some of the leading voices in the anti-corruption world and will be sharing those here. Views expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Transparency International and where possible we encourage robust discussion and debate.

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