Posts Tagged ‘anti-corruption’

Have the rules changed? A brief look on what has happened since the 13th IACC

4 November 2010

Are citizens changing the rule of the game?

This year, the International Anti-Corruption Conference has not only a session, but a whole stream focussing on a wide range of initiatives that put the citizens at the centre of the fight against corruption. A “Paradigm Shift”, as the conference calls it. The special sessions run under the title Changing the Rules of the Game, and looks at how people are mobilised, ways of supporting victims, witnesses and whistleblowers, and how to connect these [game]changers.

This blog has been started 2 years ago, for the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference, as part of a session entitled “ACOUNTABILITY 2.0 : Using Social Media in the Fight Against Corruption“. It proposed to:

…demonstrate how social media is used to advance corporate social responsibility, government accountability and political integrity and human rights (and) provide a platform to share practical experience with these tools with a broader governance and anti-corruption audience and inspire a discussion on how social media tools can be best appropriated for the fight against corruption.

Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation and Julian Assange, of Wikileaks, present on the panel back in 2008, definitely have changed the rules of the game. Sunlight Foundation has developed a series of amazing tools to make government more transparent, and thus, in a way, of how citizens experience politics. And Wikileaks has challenged questions of secrecy of information as never seen before through the publication of classified information on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I think we’ve come a long way since then. Since 2008 we have been increasingly experiencing fascinating implementations, many of which bottom-up by citizens who had some technical knowledge and the passion to develop tools that would provide greater transparency and lessen the opportunities for corruption.

Some of the trends in Information and Communication Technology that have fostered this development are mapping and location technologies, the increase in mobile phones and the development of simpler interfaces to develop these platforms. Have a look at the Technology for Transparency Network that provides a great resource for analysing and categorising these initiatives.

For example mapping technology, such as Ushahidi, has sparked a series of projects crowdsourcing monitoring from elections to acts of crime. One of the ideas that Transparency International has been working on is to engage citizens in monitoring development projects through a so-called “social monitoring” tool we called Collocal – at one place. A first pilot project has just been launched for the city of Vladimir in Russia.

Other examples range from online to offline, from visualising financial flows in Argentina, Dinero y Politica, to great project I Paid a Bribe.com in India, and from observing legislative processes in Chile and Guatemala to gathering expressions that describe corrupt behaviour. You’ll find some more mentioned on this blog.

Last year, Mary Joyce did a great job of highlighting the fact that “every citizen is a monitor” in a presentation to TI chapters. It is this active role of citizens and this empowering quality of social media that has inspired many to believe in a new wave in the fight against corruption with a focus on citizens. A great discussion can be read in this NewTactics dialogue on how to empower citizens, held this summer.

Yet, much remains to be done. The key questions to ask when looking at developing new projects should be: What information should be publicly available (and is not)? What could citizens do amd how could they engage in holding their leaders to account? What are issues that concern citizens the most? What are interests and drivers of relevant communities and groups of audiences?

It also has become evident that many of these tools have not yet made it into the anti-corruption mainstream and need to be broadenend in scope to become effective. While many platforms are developed to have greater transparency in politics, the concrete focus on reducing corruption and using this information for sustainable change in politics is often forgotten. The anti-corruption movement needs to link up more strongly with the transparency and Open Data movement to take full advantage of the synergies of bringing knowledge (some good examples presented by Ronny Patz at PDF Europe last month).

So looking at the last couple of years, have the rules changed for good? Are the corrupt more likely to be exposed because citizens monitor them with tools based on new technologies?

I think so. But I see a lot of opportunities to do much more.

What do you think?

By the way, find all information on the 14th IACC here, and follow on Twitter the conference through the hashtag #14iacc and @14iacc.

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Anti-corruption project in competition at N2Y4 Mobile Challenge

6 April 2009

One of our colleagues here at TI has prepared an exciting project for the N2Y4 mobile challenge. In a nutshell, Mosomo-health is looking to make use of mobile phones to bring together information about health-related government spending and connect this data to local knowledge about whether or not funding reaches its intended destination and actually results in on-the-ground infrastructure and public health services.

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In the interest of brevity and to encourage you to head over to the netsquared site this is an extremely abbreviated description of the idea. If you like it thus far, please register (it’s non-profit and there won’t be any spam), go straight here to look at the detailed description of Mosomo-health, give it a star rating and perhaps an additional positive comment in the comments field. If we can create enough of a buzz, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a chance to reach the finals of the competition and mobilise some funding to pilot the project.

To get a sense of just how worthwhile this may be, check out the last challenge-winning project Ushahidi and on the contest site.

Thanks in advance for your help in spreading the word!

And while we’re at it, TI’s new twitter has just been named Nonprofit of the Week by Nonprofitorgs. Good reason to follow both.

Fight Against Corruption and Rule of Law Threatened by Twitter?!

17 March 2009

Not in the grand scheme of things, we don’t think. But consider this piece from the NY Times webpage:

And on Monday, defense lawyers in the federal corruption trial of a former Pennsylvania state senator, Vincent J. Fumo, demanded that the judge declare a mistrial after a juror posted updates on the case on Twitter and Facebook. The juror even told his readers that a “big announcement” was coming Monday. But the judge decided to let the trial continue, and the jury found Mr. Fumo guilty. His lawyers plan to use the Internet postings as grounds for appeal.

So much for Twitter and possible unintended consequences in the fight against corruption. Not a good reason to ignore the potential of this technology to create transparency though, is it?

Three-piece update on a busy week in the fight against corruption

20 February 2009

This week has been a pretty busy one for global anti-corruption activists. On Tuesday, Transparency International honoured two investigative journalists, David Leigh of the Guardian(UK) and Roman Shleynov of Novaya Gazeta (Russia). David and Roman are the recipients of the 2008 Integrity Awards. The winners of the Integrity Awards are extremely brave individuals who often accept great personal risk to expose corruption, as Georg sadly had to highlight a short while ago. This is what TI says:

Transparency International’s (TI) Integrity Awards honour the work of these courageous individuals and organisations that make a real difference in the fight against corruption. From accountants and public prosecutors to government officials and pharmacologists, their backgrounds may be diverse, but the message is the same: corruption can be beaten.

TI’s 2008 Integrity Awards pay tribute to two remarkable investigative journalists, David Leigh and Roman Shleynov, whose untiring determination to expose corrupt dealings in the face of formidable odds serve as inspiration to the anti-corruption movement.

Integrity Awards 2008
Huguette Labelle, Chair of TI with Integrity Awards 2008 winners David Leigh and Roman Shleynov (left to right)

A slideshow with photos from this year’s ceremony can be viewed here.

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Promoting anti-corruption in Egypt

12 January 2009

How to promote anti-corruption activities and transparency in countries with challenging political environments for civil society organisations and journalists such as the Middle East?

Again, the internet is one of the most promising channels, according to Hany Ibrahim from the Development and Institutionalization Support Center DISC, as he states in an article just published on PoliticsOnline titling In Egypt, Fighting Corruption through Internet.

The organisation has developed an interesting website called Nazaha meaning “Transparency and Integrity” aiming at raising public awareness about corruption. The website, available only in Arabic,

provides downloadable tools for journalists, members of elected Local Councils, and NGO’s leaders, enabling them to investigate, uncover, and fight corruption. Moreover, the website monitors and documents corruption cases circulated by 23 (party, state-run, and independent) newspapers. The documentation is divided into seven categories: (1) corruption in health sector; (2) corruption in housing; (3) corruption in primary education; (4) corruption in higher education; (5) corruption in transportation; (6) corruption in supplies; and (7) corruption in local administrative units. The documentation is necessary for analysis of the data and interpretation of the causes and effects of corruption on the life of the people, particularly the poor and the marginalized.

A similar concept is followed by a project undertaken by Transparency International’s Moroccan chapter under the name Observatoire National de la Corruption.

These examples show that sometimes very easy concepts such as gathering and documenting relevant information already available in the public sphere, such as newspapers and news magazines, in one place, preferably available online, as well as providing key advocates with materials may they need to make their case, can be incredibly powerful.

Documenting and categorizing corruption cases is important. But making them public by matching and mapping them in an easy and accessible fashion should be the next important step to identify hotspots of corruption in a given country. Public monitoring, including by the affected citizen, will be the most effective process to effect change on public institutions.

Engaging the corporate sector against corruption through social media advocacy?

14 October 2008

I haven’t been a very prolific contributor to this blog over the past few weeks, which was at least partly due to the fact that I was travelling. This post will require a bit of background, as it comes round to an idea for the application of social media advocacy very much on the basis of a more traditional look at – in this case – the part of the equation sometimes called the supply side of corruption: corporate bribery.

Among other meetings in the Netherlands, I attended Ethical Corporation‘s 2nd European Anti-corruption summit. What struck me there was how seriously many corporations take corruption as a legal compliance issue without necessarily taking into full view the broader societal implications of corruption and what business can do to help address these. In other words, following the string of latest corporate cases and at least some efforts by government to prosecute these more vigorously – with prominent exceptions – (see TI’s latest progress report on enforcement of the OECD Anti-bribery convention here for details) there is a heightened sense of awareness among big business that the legal risks incurred by corruption are considerable and that at least individually, businesses need to act.

Very few companies however seem to regard anti-corruption as a fundamental corporate responsibility issue yet (though there were a few notable presentations and conversations highlighting the importance of doing just that during the conference). Approaching anti-corruption as a responsibility issue not limited to compliance with the law (while that of course is fundamental) has the potential to not only protect one business from legal harm (a damaged reputation and lost business, jail time for senior management, etc. included) but to benefit society at large by helping to create the environment for sustainable development. Real opportunities exist for example for business to become engaged with collective action approaches against corruption (a good resource on these has been compiled here) that can help move the debate in the compliance and quite a lot more direction.

The reason I am bringing this issue up in the social media context is that beyond the immediate business case for anti-corruption (more…)

Start using social media

12 September 2008

With this blog, we will start gathering innovative and inspiring ideas around how social media and intelligent use of information technology can be used to make the fight against corruption more effective and sustainable.

Trying to gather ideas that have been put in place and that are employed around the world will allow us promote best practice, and synthesize new ideas and approaches with this blog. Finally, a workshop at the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference in November will bring together anti-corruption activists together to see how social media can change how corruption is fought, and make our efforts more sustainable.

Naturally, many of the examples will not only be valuable for the anti-corruption community, but also for all the other areas where all our engagement is needed to make the world a fairer and better place. But many of the current anti-corruption initiatives are very high-level, addressing issues such as national legislation and international conventions. To be effective, everyone needs to be part of the solution. The involvement of people directly affected by corruption, but also engagement and conversations with all parties including the private sector are still rare.

Your input is very much welcomed and needed. Suggest initiatives that we haven’t covered, comment on projects that are mentioned. We will bring them and your comments to the workshop at the conference.

Hopefully, this blog will serve as a starting point for conversations, ideas, initiatives and projects. Let’s get started.