IACC conference started today

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The 13th IACC conference started with a panel on corruption, peace and security. Let me reflect on a couple of issues mentioned during the session.

13th IACC

13th IACC

One of the panellists that got me thinking was Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. She highlighted that a Transparency International list of countries with high levels of corruption would look very similar to an Amnesty International list of countries with high levels of human rights violations. Human Rights can be important tools fighting corruption, especially the right for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and are an underutilized legal framework to fight corruption.

Already in this opening plenary it becomes clear that it there is an essential need for the right of citizens to be involved, the right of victims for a voice.

Khan said, and here I see a link to this blog: “The best tool to fight corruption is an empowered citizen.” As I had argued earlier, social media is about empowering people.

This “social transparency”, being accountable towards the citizens, demanding leaders, politicians, to account to what they do, can be supported by the use of social media.

Another issue raised was on stolen money that, as Mark Pieth, Chairman of the OECD working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions stated, must be hidden somewhere. More transparency, especially within global financial flows is urgently needed, as also Transparency International pointed out in its resolution of this year’s Annual Membership Meeting ahead of the 13th IACC.

It would be great to use crowdsourcing concepts to identify flows and assets of CEOs or politicians. To match the money with the people. As Pieth said, if dictators find it more difficult to hide their bounty in financial centre, this contributes to corruption. Maybe if they find their mansions and Maibachs posted on the web, people will become aware. A map on google un-hiding the villas by political leaders.

A question to the panelist asked them, what each one of them could do to fight corruption. So here are just some initial thoughts, if you have any ideas, I’d be interested in hearing and reading them here!

What can you do to fight corruption?

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One Response to “IACC conference started today”

  1. Doy Romero Says:

    Hi Georg,

    Allow me to jump in and contribute some ideas.

    I agree that the best tool for fighting corruption is an empowered citizen. Unfortunately, the empowering effects of the social media may not be available to those who need it most — the poor who have no access to the media.

    Social media has dramatically empowered many individuals already in countries like the Philippines, where surveys and studies have shown that internet users have vigorously taken to the social media like blogging, podcasting, social networks. This demonstrates both the immense promise of social media — as well as the hunger for communication, information, and interaction among people in the developing world.

    For many countries, the poor who need to be empowered will not have any internet connection anytime soon; the internet is to some extent an empowering device for those who are already empowered in some way. The poor, who are highly vulnerable to corruption, will not have this benefit immediately.

    The challenge in the use of the social media for fighting corruption is to bridge over to the media that still is the primary source of information for many poor people, especially the rural areas. This media is the radio. The interface between social media and the traditional mass media should be purposively designed to enable the poor people to benefit from the social media.

    Several ideas come to mind. Based on experience in the Philippines, the local and regional radio stations are interested in reporting corruption stories and anti-corruption action, but these are more on the sensationalist side. It would help if anti-corruption organizations could produce daily or weekly SMS content that radio announcers can use in their radio programs. This content could as a set of plugs over the long run can provide awareness about corruption and increase the demand for transparency and accountability among the poor people. The information can point to organizations that can help them and provide legal advice.

    On other bridging mechanism is to broadcast questions about corruption and corruption related situations and trends in localities, for which people can answer using SMS. The collective results can be mirrored back to the people as an image of their general sentiment, and specific courses of actions for certain classes of cases or situations can be given. Obviously, careful design and deployment of the social media — traditional mass media interface should be done by anti-corruption organizations, and it would be interesting to find out what best practices are available out there.

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