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Corruption – The Weed of Democratic Development

Rima Kawas |

Corruption is like a weed, strangling democratic development before it can take root and cracking the foundation of democratic institutions. Left untreated; even the strongest institutions topple. Like a weed, why is corruption so difficult to stifle and address?

Every year we mow the lawn, get out the spray and try to ensure weeds don’t return, but suddenly a dandelion pops its head up and the problem continues. This is the same situation for corruption – addressing it takes years of persistence and just when you think you have it addressed – it pops its ugly head up again.

This is why it is important to pause and reflect on December 9th – International Corruption Day – to help “break the corruption chain” and reflect on how we are working toward combating corruption. As I reflect on getting at the root of corruption, I can’t help but be extremely proud of the work IRI is doing to help create more accessible and transparent government.

Our governance work is focused on working with government officials, citizens and civil society to bring government closer to citizens, transforming it into a more responsive, transparent and effective institution that is representative of and accountable to its citizens which in the end help combat corruption. For example, our work in Colombia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine helps municipal governments’ set up one-stop shops, which simplify how citizens access a wide range of services, this process has provided better service delivery for citizens and by streamlining the government process it can help eliminate avenues for corruption. In addition to one-stop-shops, we have also implemented various other governance tools such as Transparency Offices and Public Rendering of Accounts in many different municipalities globally which are helping government be more transparent and responsive to citizens.

In addition to governance programming that increases transparency and government accountability. IRI is also directly combatting corruption through an innovative approach by creating the Vulnerabilities to Corruption Assessment. This approach is focused on fighting corruption at the subnational level and is a formalized process to identify potential risk for corruption in government. In addition to identifying the risks, IRI supports strategic planning processes to address the key areas in government where corruption could occur and implements transparency and accountability activities by governments and civil society organizations. IRI is currently helping to implement this approach in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. As a result of this work, the Mayor developed an anti-corruption action plan for the city that includes the creation of the Ulaanbaatar Transparency Academy which offers intensive ethics training for civil servants; development of the city’s first whistleblower protection laws; and increasing citizen oversight of public expenditures through the creation of citizen’s councils.

As a result of this successful approach, IRI is replicating this approach to other subnational governments globally.

It is through this subnational focus that IRI has been able to continue to address the weed of corruption and through persistence, create new governance tools that create more transparent and accountable subnational governments.

Therefore, in honor of International Anti-Corruption Day, I am excited to be partnering with the Open Government Partnership and the Sunlight Foundation to facilitate a dialogue at the OpenGov Hub, on December 9 at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the various tools and practices that help create more transparent and accountable governments. I hope you will be able to join the conversation!