It’s now 20 years since Transparency International began its fight to end corruption worldwide. It’s been a busy two decades, with landmark global conventions, leaders held to account for their actions, and millions of people standing up and challenging corruption in their daily lives. But our 20th anniversary isn’t only about remembering our history, it’s about shaping our collective future. Here are thoughts from government, business and civil society leaders from around the world.
Former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Prize winner
Deputy Secretary General
Head of Strategy and Planning
Africa Progress Panel
Executive Director, Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption
Vice President for Integrity
Chief Executive Officer
Head of Division for Governance
Democracy and Rule of Law - BMZ
It’s not long ago since corruption wasn’t talked about. Many people didn’t see corruption as a problem or felt powerless to do anything about it. In 1993, a few dedicated individuals decided it was time for change and set up the world’s first international anti-corruption organisation: Transparency International. A lot has happened since: the creation of international anti-corruption laws, corrupt leaders brought to justice and their illicitly gained riches seized, national elections won and lost on tackling corruption, and companies held accountable for their behaviour at home and abroad. Today, corruption is the most talked about issue in the world. Even more importantly, we’re now active in more than 100 countries and we’re doing a lot about it. Explore our history timeline and discover the highlights of the last two decades.Find out More
Launched in 2000, the Integrity Awards celebrate the power of ordinary people in the fight against corruption. Winners are individuals who have taken extraordinary steps to fight corruption in their home countries. They show a deep passion for their work, an outstanding level of courage to take on authority and a commitment to keep up the struggle. They come in all different shapes and sizes, ranging from an 80-year-old Vietnamese ex-schoolteacher who busted corrupt officials, to a young pilot who blew the whistle on a scandal in the Moroccan military. Meet the 2013 Integrity Award winners.Find out More
As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we challenged young photographers around the world to illustrate the negative effects corruption has on their world. We received hundreds of entries. From environmental devastation brought on by chemical dumping, to police brutality and building wreckages, these photos show how greed and dishonesty can manifest themselves in society. Meet the winners and browse their evocative shots.Find out More
Our youth writing competition asked 18 to 30 year olds what people their age can do to stop corruption. The response was huge. Our winners wrote about how individual acts against endemic corruption can set an example to others and help shift mindsets. From refusing to pay a bribe to get into college, to using music to inspire change, these entrants showed how the anti-corruption movement is taking shape among a new generation – the leaders of tomorrow. Meet the winners and be inspired.Find out More
We are a global movement sharing one vision: a world in which government, politics, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption. Working in more than 100 countries, we’re helping people speak out against corruption, and holding leaders to account worldwide. Read our 2012 Annual Report to see how we're turning our vision into reality.Find out More
Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle takes us through the growth of the anti-corruption movement spanning two decades, beginning with its founding by Peter Eigen and a handful of dedicated individuals, to today being a global movement active in more than 100 countries. Corruption is a major threat to human rights, environmental sustainability, development and security, and there is still a massive amount of work to do. Huguette calls on all of us to join the struggle to fight corruption – an attack on our shared future.
Kofi Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, talks about the progress made in the past 20 years against corruption. Transparency is now an accepted principle and corruption is considered unacceptable. Challenges remain, however, such as how non-transparent business practices are failing Africa. While noting the long road ahead of us, Annan wishes Transparency International a happy birthday.
The present paradigm of global governance is based on the key role of sovereign nation states and their governments. This near exclusive reliance on nation states is outdated. The globalisation of the economy has surpassed the capacity of national governments to regulate the economy. National governments simply do not have the global reach that would be required to govern the global economy.
Hence the nation state paradigm is only partly functional in a globalised economy. This is also largely true for their intergovernmental organisations (like the World Bank, IMF, and UN agencies) where member nations often pursue their national agendas. It is both legitimate and to be expected that these organisations carry out the wishes of their member nations, but too often this happens to be the lowest common denominator.
Can the world accept an outcome that condemns a billion people to absolute poverty? A billion people without reasonable access to drinking water? Twice that number of people living without proper sanitation? Can we accept the conflicts, violence, and terror arising from failing governance in so many regions and countries?
The record is clear: Our present global governance functions badly – in fact the people on the streets around the world have told us: we need change. We need a new paradigm of global governance. The outcome of the present system is marked by governance failure at the global, regional and local levels.
From our experience in fighting international corruption it is evident that a coalition of the three actors of governance – the state, the commercial sector and civil society organisations (CSO) – can offer solutions in important areas of failing governance related to integrity and accountability.
The three actors have to complement each other in diagnosing problems together, developing joint proposals for reform, introducing and monitoring these reforms in order to establish together better governance world-wide.
A free and vigilant civil society is essential if we are to tackle poverty and the injustice of economic globalisation, and to dispel the climate of despair and alienation that serves as a breeding ground for conflict, war and terrorism. However, to take on this responsibility organised civil society also has to change. There are at least four major challenges for many CSOs to grow into this role:
1. Decision-making processes of CSOs themselves, and generally their governance have to improve: Are they open and participatory? Are they democratic?
2. Financial transparency, the openness and accounting for their funds, the identity and accountability of their financial supporters, all of these have to be clear and transparent. Can this be left to self-regulation? Or should the State set the minimum requirements? The examples of severe restrictions placed on civil society in some countries argue for caution in this field.
3. The competence and professionalism of the leaders and activists in CSOs have to be strengthened. This is a challenge to academia: research and training for CSOs on the basis of focused curricula, based on close interaction is essential. The establishment of numerous research and training centers for civil society in Europe and the United States is cause for optimism in this area.
4. CSOs have to learn the art of being open for coalition building, for a willingness to cooperate with the other actors of governance, without losing their independence.
There are numerous other obstacles to an effective role of CSO as partners of the other actors of governance. However, a number of initiatives, such as the Accountability Charter for international NGOs, give reason to expect that organised civil society will grow into its role as a driving force for a new paradigm of global governance.
An effective coalition of state, business and civil society is bringing transparency and accountability to global governance in the fight against international corruption. It is hoped that it can also bring solutions to other ills of globalisation, which is now marked by injustice and inequity, poverty, violence, conflict, environmental destruction and climate change. With the magic triangle of cooperation between state, business and civil society there is hope for a better, more just world for everybody.