Optimism in the field of anti-corruption | Magdy Martínez-Soliman
07 Nov 2012
Every year, corruption is estimated to cost more than 5% of global GDP (US$2.6 trillion). But its costs in terms of dignity cannot be calculated. Widespread rent-seeking and patronage have the power to undermine democracy and the rights of communities, especially those who live on the land of their ancestors, on mineral resources or surrounded by global commons. These communities can then be subject to exploitation by companies or interest groups who push for environmental and social safeguards to be ignored or bypassed.
High-profile corruption cases and publication of resources lost through illicit forms have begun tempting many to believe the fight against corruption is being lost. Weak anti-corruption agencies, porous institutions and opaque political party financing do not help. I would like to argue, however, that there is still hope for cautious optimism for the following reasons.
First, even as gaps in enforcement and practice persist, over the years global instruments and related international initiatives have grown in number and fame. From international diplomatic conventions to new instruments to citizens armed with cellphones, fighting corruption is everyone’s business.
Second, corruption has now been termed clearly as a governance deficit and a development challenge, rallying the forces that work on democratic values and human progress.
My third hope rests on citizen action and mobilization demonstrating the rising intolerance for corruption and impunity. Technology is transforming the field of transparency and individuals can report abuse to the masses through varied media channels with unparalleled ease, at a low or no cost and with speed.
But optimism alone is not a recipe for success. It is an ingredient of political motivation that needs to be followed by hard work. Promoting accountability, transparency and anti-corruption is not just the right thing to do, but it is what makes development effective.