As global leaders gather at the United Nations to discuss the future of the world’s development, Transparency International has a simple message for them: you need to fight corruption to win the battle against poverty. Anti-corruption and governance go hand in hand with improving education, lifting people out of poverty, increasing hygiene, improving the status of women and the provision of clean water.
The stories where corruption cripples development are numerous. They stretch from police officers and judges violating people’s rights by demanding a bribe and government officials siphoning off state funds or cooking procurements, to men and women of all ages having to make illegal payments to enrol their children in free schooling or get them care in a public clinic.
Corruption hits the poor the most
Transparency International surveys consistently show the same problem of the poorest suffering the most from corruption. According to the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, of the more than 114,000 people surveyed in 107 countries, one in four people have paid a bribe while trying to access the most basic services. For the poorest countries, this number is one in two.
But the cost of corruption goes beyond the bribe paid, the law violated or the money stolen. It hits at the core of people’s right to live better lives. It undoes global efforts to end poverty as set out in eight development pledges, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that governments from around the globe committed to in 2000. Yet progress has been mixed on the MDGs at best and many countries and regions are not on track to meet their goals by the end of 2015. For Transparency International, one of the key reasons for not meeting these important goals is corruption and lack of governance.
Our findings show that where countries are more open, accountable and respect the rule of law, there is better education, health and access to clean water and sanitation – three of the targets outlined in the MDGs.
In countries where there is more bribery, more women die during child birth and fewer children are educated, irrespective of how rich or poor a country is. Particularly in rural areas, people are less likely to find safe water to drink and more likely to lack indoor plumbing.
Good governance boosts development
These new findings show a strong relationship between bribery and reduced development that is often so strong that it distorts the usual correlation that exists between a country being richer and having better development. Simply put, being rich does not stop corruption from preventing an end to poverty.
But it is clear that people in better governed countries have better development.
In countries that are more transparent and where there is good oversight and law enforcement:
- More pregnant women get proper healthcare and have healthy births
- More children and young people go to school and learn to read
- Families have access to clean water and have piping to take their sewage away
Despite this evidence, the MDGs did not include any commitments on anti-corruption or open and accountable governments. Now is the time to set the past right as new goals are being debated by the UN for what will come after 2015.
Transparency International calls for the United Nations to adopt a governance goal and mainstream governance into all goals.
The meetings in New York mark the start of negotiations about new goals. Let’s make sure it gets off on the right step.
Watch our event live from New York, 25 September
Watch a live stream of our event, The Role for Anti-Corruption and Governance: Looking to 2015 and Beyond, live from the UN in New York, on 25 September, at 14:00 CET (Berlin) time.
We have a group of very distinguished panelists:
- HE Minister Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås, Minister of International Development, Norway
- HE Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- Dr. Huguette Labelle, Chair, Transparency International
- Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Chair, Yunus Centre
The moderator is:
- Mr. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Founding host, HuffPost Live, Huffington Post.
Opening Remarks are to be provided by:
- Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, UNODC
- Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, Associate Administrator, UNDP
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