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12th IACC Conference Paper

Towards a fairer world: Why is corruption still blocking the way?

A framework for debate

Paper commissioned by the 12th IACC organisers
Pierre Landell-Mills

  download the paper here

Executive Summary

This paper elaborates on the goals of the 12th IACC, provides a context for the debates, and proposes the main themes to guide the discussion, and identifies the outcomes sought.

Over the past decade great strides have been made in raising public awareness of the damage to human welfare caused by corruption. Political leaders have responded with strong statements on the need for cleaner government and by pledges to improve governance. They have committed their governments to fight to reduce corruption by signing international anti-corruption conventions. Regrettably, the steps to bring real change have been few far between. Overall surveys show that corruption worldwide has not diminished. Moreover, public expectations about the likelihood of corruption are more pessimistic now than five ears ago. Clearly, the urgent need is for governments to move from rhetoric to action. The task of this conference is to explore practical ways to persuade governments to ‘walk the talk’.

Much good diagnostic work has been done by independent researchers, often funded by development agencies, in identifying weaknesses in the national integrity systems. But bribery and extortion in the delivery of public services remains commonplace. ‘State capture’ by corrupt elites hamstrings a number of countries. The challenge now is to better understand how to build public opinion and hence political support to force through reform against entrenched interests that are currently the beneficiaries of existing corrupt systems. The main elements to consider are: better information flows to enhance transparency; overcoming the embedded nature of the social norms that drive the incentive system of institutions and decision-makers; and empowering civil society.

History demonstrates that there is no reason to expect corrupt officials and political leaders to reform themselves. Governance reform will only come from within countries through the strengthening of a civil society that demands change. The 12th IACC provides an opportunity for an exchange of experience on ways to strengthen the voice of civil society – what has worked and what has failed and what may we learn from past efforts that will enable the fight to curb corruption to be injected with new vigour. This should be the main focus for this year’s conference.

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Published on: 2006-05-17 (467709 reads)

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