One of the most striking findings from Transparency International’s latest worldwide corruption survey, the Global Corruption Barometer, is that most people firmly believe in their own power to combat corruption.
Latin American and the Caribbean lead the pack in this regard, with 70% of citizens across the region saying that ordinary people can make a difference. That figure rises to over 80% in places like Brazil, Costa Rica and Paraguay, and around the world it is young people who most believe in their ability to create change.
A key part of Transparency International’s work is to help people hold their governments to account.
We remove obstacles that prevent people from accessing information or speaking out against wrong-doing, and work with governments to fix the laws and processes to make it easier for citizens to participate.
Our chapters around the world are the heroes in this battle for accountability.
The work they do is often not easy - or glamourous - and it can be a long and slow process to make the state more accountable to its citizens.
Take the Maldives, where our national chapter was holding a training with the civil servants who process right to information requests. It turned out that lots of requests were being rejected due to an administrative mistake: a form required people to give the reason for request, even though this wasn’t legally necessary. Officers were rejecting applications based on the empty field in the form. It took Transparency International Maldives two years of lobbying to persuade the government to change that field to ‘optional’ on the form. It’s a small but important step, and it speaks volumes to the dedication and perseverance of our chapters.
Or take Palestine where this year our National Chapter, AMAN, persuaded the Palestinian Authority to make public budgets and financial audit reports easily accessible online. The government also created a new and more transparent digital portal for the social welfare system – something AMAN and its partners in a coalition of civil society organisations had been advocating for.