Transparency International turns 20

Transparency International turns 20

Transparency International is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013 with a look back at our history and a glance forward into what the future might bring in the effort to defeat corruption.

Twenty years ago foreign bribes were a legal tax write-off for multinational corporations in too many countries, there was no way to measure corruption on a global scale and few leaders of countries lost their jobs for being corrupt.

International organisations did not focus on promoting transparency and anti-corruption, nor was there a single global agreement among countries aimed at stopping bribery or corruption.

Fast forward to 2013 and corruption has gone from a taboo topic to the most-talked about social challenge in the world. Those seeking to eliminate the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery have torn down graft-riddled governments from Egypt to Peru.

Transparency International’s work on the ground is carried out by over 100 independent chapters. The above picture shows a public rally in Bogra, Bangladesh calling for good governance and effective control of corruption on International Anti-Corruption Day 2011.

Not one, but two global agreements between governments around the world seek to stop the scourge of foreign bribery and corruption. Corruption does not stop at international borders, making the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the United Nations Convention against Corruption important crime-fighting tools.

Transparency International played an integral role in all of these changes. Our work has taken us many places, including into the corridors of power where we push and lobby for laws that, for example, open up government books so the people know where the money is coming from, how it is spent and who is spending it. It takes us to a small legal advice office in rural India where a father wants help fending off the request for a 500 rupee (US$9) bribe from a school official in order to secure his daughter’s diploma.

Mothers in Niger receive T-shirts promoting our free anti-corruption legal advice services.

Transparency International has helped save citizens’ lives and billions of dollars by stopping secret deals, shedding light on crooked contracts and making bidding and other public processes more open to the public.

It all began in 1993 when Peter Eigen launched Transparency International. A former World Bank senior official, Eigen had waged a campaign inside the institution and across the development aid community to build understanding of how corruption was wrecking anti-poverty projects in many of the world’s poorest countries. He won encouragement on a personal level from an array of senior officials, but the institutions refused to budge. Their leaders said corruption was just too hot to handle. Eigen decided it was time to act.

In February 1993, Eigen and a group of some 20 allies from a dozen countries met in The Hague to approve the charter document that established Transparency International. In May a conference was held in Berlin and the organisation commenced the long struggle against secret dealings, bribery and the abuse of power.

With the first two decades under our belt, now is the time to look ahead and ask ourselves where will we be in the next 20 years and what will we need to do to get there.

An important clue to the future lies in the events of the last two years when citizens from Tahrir Square to Wall Street decided to say “Enough is enough”, toppling corrupt regimes and demanding corporations who bring too much risk to the global economy be removed.

The battle against corruption can no longer only take place within the halls of government, it must now be waged from a broad public base and engage new constituencies like the business community and other non-governmental organisations or football fans.

Students at the Transparency International Summer School on Integrity. Each year students come together from around the world to learn about the causes of corruption and practical ways in which societies can become more transparent and accountable.

As we saw in Cairo and within the Occupy Wall Street movement, technology will increasingly be used to bring people together quickly to challenge the status quo.

Looking ahead, Transparency International will create a succinct, clear and accessible statement of people-centred principles outlining what people all over the world can do to stand up and successfully resist corruption.

Carousel image credit: Flickr/a.Andres

For any press enquiries please contact


Support Transparency International

#18IACC: Call for workshop proposals now open!

The 18th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Conference to take place in Copenhagen from 22-24 October 2018 is thrilled to announce that the call for workshop proposals is now open. Help us shape the #18IACC agenda! Anyone interested in the fight against corruption is welcome to submit a proposal.

The impact of land corruption on women: insights from Africa

As part of International Women’s Day, Transparency International is launching the Women, Land and Corruption resource book. This is a collection of unique articles and research findings that describe and analyse the prevalence of land corruption in Africa – and its disproportionate effect on women – presented together with innovative responses from organisations across the continent.

Passport dealers of Europe: navigating the Golden Visa market

Coast or mountains? Real estate or business investment? Want your money back in five years? If you're rich, there are an array of options for European ‘Golden Visas’ at your fingertips, each granting EU residence or citizenship rights.

How the G20 can make state-owned enterprises champions of integrity

For the first time in its presidency of the G20, Argentina is hosting country representatives from across the globe to address the best ways of curtailing corruption and promoting integrity in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Europe and Central Asia: More civil engagement needed (Part II)

As follow-up to the regional analysis of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, additional examples from Albania, Kosovo and Georgia highlight the need for more progress in anti-corruption efforts in these countries and across the region.

Lutte contre la corruption en Afrique: Du bon et du moins bon

La publication de la dernière édition de l’Indice de perception de la corruption (IPC) offre un bon point de repère pour situer les efforts de lutte contre la corruption que l’Union africaine (UA) poursuivra tout au long de 2018

No hay cambios en las percepciones pese a los avances en América

En los últimos años, América Latina y el Caribe lograron adelantos significativos en la lucha contra la corrupción. En muchos países de la región existen ahora leyes y mecanismos para contrarrestar este fenómeno, las investigaciones legales están avanzando y los movimientos ciudadanos anticorrupción han incrementado. Sin embargo, de acuerdo con el Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción (IPC) 2017, la región continúa con bajos puntajes.

A redefining moment for Africa

The newly released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) provides a good baseline for the African Union (AU) anti-corruption efforts in 2018. This year’s theme for the AU is “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” As the AU rolls out its plan, this is an important moment for Africa to take stock of the current situation.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world