A Global Look at Anti-Corruption Day

On January 18 Global Voices will launch the Technology for Transparency Network, a collaborative research mapping of internet projects that promote greater transparency, government accountability, and civic engagement. This is the first in a series of posts that will explore related issues through the eyes of bloggers worldwide. To kick things off we look at how bloggers responded to International Anti-Corruption Day, which was signed into law in 2003 at the United Nations Convention against Corruption and takes place every year on December 9th.

On Space for Transparency, the official blog of Transparency International, Georg Neumann looks back at the state of anti-corruption activism for 2009:

Increasingly, anti-corruption activists have been in the line of attack. Journalists writing on corruption in politics and society such as Sri Lanka’s Lasantha Wickramatunga earlier this year have given their lives. Activists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Guatemala or Zimbabwe have faced threats or were being silenced. Anti-Corruption Day stands for a day to remember, recognise and honour these brave and fearless people, who went to prison or lost their lives believing that through fighting corruption they will make the world a better place.

Neumann also notes that 2009 saw the passing of a flawed review mechanism which doesn't require member states to seek input from independent NGO's based in their countries. In a five-minute YouTube video Peter Eigen, the founder of Transparency International, describes the important role of civil society in fighting corruption and improving governance:

But it wasn't all bad news in 2009, writes Neumann. There are now 40 Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers worldwide providing legal advice to victims of corruption. Also, online social media has proven itself a powerful tool in promoting transparency and fighting against corruption. In India, for example, J. N. Jayashree started a wiki to protect her husband whose safety was threatened as a result of his whistle-blowing activities. In Morocco an anonymous anti-corruption activist has begun posting videos to YouTube of police officers accepting bribes.

On Global Voices a number of posts commemorated Anti-Corruption Day last month. Bhumika Ghimire notes that Nepal was ranked by Transparency International as one of the world's most corrupt countries. Linking to other Nepalese bloggers, Bhumika's article shows how corruption in Nepal affects the economy, governance, public works, and even marriage.

Twitpic by Cleudson Fernandes, Twitter user @cleudsonf, published with permission

'Arruda Out'. Twitpic by Cleudson Fernandes, Twitter user @cleudsonf, published with permission

In Brazil violence broke out on Anti-Corruption Day between police and protesters:

Protesters have been demanding the impeachment of the Governor of the Federal District, Jose Roberto Arruda, and his deputy, Paulo Octavio, in addition to a thorough investigation into all parties cited in the bribery scandal that led to a police operation codenamed Pandora Box. According to the investigation, Governor Arruda is the possible head of a R$ 600,000 (approximately $340,000) per month bribery scheme that has benefited allies among district members of parliament, businessmen and government officials.

Transparency HackDay in São Paulo, photo by Alexandre Fugita used under a Creative Commons license.

Transparency HackDay in São Paulo, photo by Alexandre Fugita used under a Creative Commons license.

But there is also reason for optimism in Brazil when it comes to transparency and open governance, as Paula Goés explained a week before Anti-Corruption Day:

The first Transparência [Transparency] Hackday, “two days for hacking into Brazilian politics”, was launched in São Paulo at the beginning of October, and the last camp took place this week, on December 1st and 2nd, in the capital Brasília [pt]. Organized by journalists Daniela Silva and Pedro Markun [both pt], the event has free entry and is an opportunity for software developers, journalists and researchers to gather together to find ways to “scrape” data from official websites and create applications that bring transparency and participation to the political processes.

Global Voices editors also point readers to a number of posts around the blogosphere related to transparency, corruption, and government accountability. Peter Marton looks at the harmful role of corruption in rebuilding Afghanistan. In Ukraine, meanwhile, Petro congratulates the residents of Kabul for sentencing their mayor to four years of prison for corruption and imagines how quickly Kyiv's prisons would fill up if the same laws were enforced in his country. Writing in Registan.net, Alexander Visotzky looks at the corruption charges against Mukhtar Dzhakishev for the illegal sale of Uranium and concludes, “The fight against corruption in Kazakhstan is apparently much more of a political game than an attempt to root out corruption.” Writing from Japan, Scilla Alecci points to Transparency International's Ten Worst Corruption Cases of 2009 in Japan. Finally, writing from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, “Gil the Jenius” asks for tougher punishments against public officials convicted of corruption.

Looking back on anti-corruption activism in 2009 we see that an entrenched culture of corruption is still pervasive worldwide. But we also see a growing online discussion about what can be done to curb corruption, promote transparency, and increase civic engagement. In future posts we'll look more specifically at online discussions and internet-based projects to promote transparency and fight against corruption in Nigeria and China.


  • My blog has plenty of it. Actually I am the only
    one denouncing the environmental ripp off
    of Parque Donha Ines and Fundacion Luis Munhoz Marin for the last three years.

    These white collar criminals have stolen over 7,000,000 and there is no park, no inventory, nothing!

  • A colossal failure to speak truth to power is allowing the most greedy among us to ruin Earth’s environment and deplete its resources.

    If only the human community could become as deeply curious and openly communicative about what the human species is doing in the world we inhabit as we are about the deceitful activities of wealthy and powerful people. Formidable human-induced global threats to human wellbeing and environmental health are just as evident as the conspicuous behaviors of the most greedy among us. To be a species with such remarkable self-consciousness, intelligence and other splendid gifts and to do no better than we are doing now is a source of deep sadness and occasional outbreaks of passionate intensity (likely signifying nothing).

    Still I believe in remaining engaged in this worthwhile struggle, one in which so many human beings with feet of clay have been involved for a lifetime. For me, the first fifty years of life were lived, as you might imagine, as if in a dream world, the one devised by the greed-mongering Masters of the Universe among us. I had no awareness that a single adamant generation, claiming to be doing God’s work, of all things, would irreversibly degrade Earth’s environs, recklessly dissipate its limited resources, relentlessly diminish its biodiversity, destabilize its climate and threaten the very future of children everywhere.

    At least we can speak out loudly, clearly and often about these unfortunate greed-driven circumstances, even though they are discomforting and unwelcome, and in the process educate one another. Like many in the Grist community have already reported, I do not have answers to forbidding questions related to the patently unsustainable ‘trajectory’ of human civilization in its present, colossally expansive form; but it seems our conscious denial of, and willful refusal to openly acknowledge, “what could somehow be real” means that the requirements of practical “reality” cannot be reasonably addressed and sensibly overcome. A colossal ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort is likely to be the end result of our abject failure, I suppose, to respond courageously and ably to the looming global challenges that appear to have emerged robustly and converged rapidly in our time.

  • […] Voices has long been reporting about uses of digital media and technology to improve governance and fight against corruption. Several veteran Global Voices contributing authors are joined by leading transparency activists […]

  • […] relatado há muito tempo os usos de mídias digitais e tecnologia para melhorar a governança e a luta contra corrupção. Vários autores veteranos do Global Voices se uniram a nós reunindo ativistas pela transparência […]

  • […] استخدامات الإعلام الرقمي و التكنولوجيا لتحسين الحكم و محاربة الفساد. انضم نشطاء الشفافية من مختلف أنحاء العالم إلى العديد […]

  • […] lama melaporkan tentang penggunaan media digital dan teknologi untuk kemajuan pemerintahan dan melawan korupsi. Beberapa penulis kontributor Global Voices yang telah berpengalaman bersama dengan aktivis […]

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