Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International, on the publication of the first edition of the definitive new report on the state of corruption around the world
The Global Corruption Report 2001 is "the first edition of an indispensable report on the state of corruption around the globe", says Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International. The report, published by Transparency International, the world's leading non- governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption, is an essential reference tool for policy-makers, business people, journalists and academics the world over.
The Global Corruption Report 2001, which will be launched in London on 15 October 2001, "echoes a clarion call for a worldwide coalition that will tolerate no safe haven for corruption and money-laundering", says Peter Eigen.
"Corruption is at its most vicious in conflict zones," he continues. "From the secret bank accounts of military dictators to the murky funds of terrorist networks, corruption threatens human life. In the midst of war, traders in arms, diamonds and oil have exacerbated the ferocity of fighting. For instance, in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, politicians, generals and international companies have scrambled for natural resources. International oil companies in Angola are not even required to file annual tax records."
"Corruption makes it impossible for many people to earn an honest living. Worse, for millions of people in developing countries, it costs lives. Corrupt political elites allocate scarce resources to huge arms deals, combining kickbacks for their cronies with an escalation of conflict, thus worsening the plight of people in some of the world's poorest regions. While in sub-Saharan Africa, as much as 10% of the population of some countries are infected with the HIV AIDS virus, urgently needed medicines are being diverted by corrupt officials for personal gain," says Peter Eigen. "In parts of the former Soviet Union 'free health care' is now only provided to those who pay a bribe."
The Global Corruption Report 2001 also charts the positive reforms introduced during 2000-01 In his introduction, Peter Eigen writes: "The good news is that corruption is attracting more public scrutiny than ever before. In the past year, we have witnessed the exposé of high-level officials and politicians in India by internet reporters who filmed alleged pay-offs on weapons contracts; the Elf Aquitaine affair, which led to the conviction of leading French officials; and, in Peru, a daily television diet of secretly made video films of political leaders taking bribes. In the Philippines, public outrage at corruption forced a national leader out of office. The secretive web that once shrouded corruption is fast unravelling."
A major step forward against international corruption in the past year has been the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which makes it a crime to bribe foreign public officials in international business transactions. Intrusive "country inspections" are being carried out to ensure that each government is playing a full role in respecting the objectives of the Convention. "Such practices have previously been confined to checks on disarmament treaties, so this is a momentous breakthrough," says Peter Eigen. "The OECD Convention is one of the great successes. Transparency International was key to the member-states' agreement," says Peter Eigen.
The Global Corruption Report 2001, edited by Robin Hodess, includes extensive coverage of money-laundering, corruption in the arms trade and conflict zones, and corruption amidst the international community in post-conflict situations, but also charts key reforms in legislation and anti-corruption agencies around the world, both the progress and the setbacks. The GCR 2001 includes 12 regional reports, a unique survey of current corruption data and research, and four global issue reports on:
- Money laundering: private banking becomes less private
- Corruption in political party financing: the case for global standards
- Transparency in the international diamond trade
- Implementing the Anti-Bribery Convention: an update from the OECD.
From the Global Corruption Report 2001:
"Corruption casts a long shadow, but it is the poor of the world…who pay the highest price … Developed countries have a responsibility to root out sources of corruption…and to be ready partners in assisting the tracking and reclaiming of funds looted from developing countries."
"I maintain that the main source of corruption is the abusive exercise of power, be it economic, political or military. In countries such as mine, gaining office (whether by popular election or by appointment) is akin to political plunder: the position offers a blank cheque, and the guarantee of great personal enrichment. This is a rule tacitly accepted by all those who call themselves politicians."
From Peter Eigen's introduction to the Global Corruption Report 2001:
"New approaches to transparency are starting to become more standard in some areas. E-government, through internet bidding for procurement deals for instance, has taken hold in Chile, Estonia and the city of Seoul. Increasingly, governments are putting records, income statements and other documentation on- line. The Latvian Finance Minister went so far as to put a web camera in his office to show what he is doing to anyone who cares to look. The doors to power continue to be forced open by the strength of new technology."
"On balance, the international community's efforts to fight corruption have had a positive impact. This is one of the encouraging lessons that we can take from the Global Corruption Report 2001, though there are important exceptions. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, international institutions failed to co-operate effectively. In parts of Africa, as in many developing and transition countries, the impact of international involvement is contested and complex: activists have underlined for several years that privatisation and liberalisation have been advocated too uncritically as means of reducing corruption."
"Civil society showed its strength in the past year in many countries, both as watchdog and partner of those in power. In Peru, for example, civil society helped to forge a new path forward following allegations of bribery and abuse under Fujimori and Montesinos… When assessing what has worked in the fight against corruption, time and time again the necessity of coalition building is apparent. Recent efforts, such as the Wolfsberg Anti-Money Laundering Principles, Integrity Pacts in Colombia, and civil society monitoring of the sale of state assets in Bulgaria and Slovakia, all show the way such creative alliances can bring positive results."
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