International Anti-Corruption Day!
(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)
Did you know that today is International Anti-Corruption Day? I sure as hell did not (but I do now). Just in case you forgot, corruption occurs when people pay money in a secret deal, in order to break the law...so they can make a lot more money.
Why don't we look at how the world celebrated this wonderful new holiday. Maybe we can even see some real corruption in action. Wow! This is so much fun.
First, let's look at where International Anti-Corruption Day came from. It was started at the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003.
In its resolution 55/61 of 4 December 2000, the General Assembly recognized that an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (resolution 55/25, annex I) was desirable and decided to establish an ad hoc committee for the negotiation of such an instrument in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The text of the United Nations Convention against Corruption was negotiated during seven sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of the Convention against Corruption, held between 21 January 2002 and 1 October 2003.
Um...that was boring. If you're like me, you just want to skip to the important stuff; like 'what do they want?' or 'what is this holiday for?' maybe even 'does this mean I can miss school?' The short answers to those questions are: transparency / accountability; awareness and no.
Put another way, the United Nations took a look at the real cost to all of our countries that came about as a direct result of corruption. What they found was pretty bad news. Murder, crime, poverty, fear, starvation, illness, lack of education, violence, hatred, infant mortality, joblessness were all happening to people across the globe in every country, every town and in every walk of life. Basically most of the people on the planet get screwed royally by corruption.
So who is guilty of corruption? Well, you might be surprised to know that almost anybody can be corrupt. Bankers, Policemen, Soldiers, Politicians, Corporate executives and even Judges. Anybody in a position of power that is supposed to follow a law meant to protect the public is at risk. You probably already know someone who has become corrupt. Keep that in mind and it will make you lose sleep.
OK...enough of this. I want to see what teh Google had to say about International Anti-Corruption Day, dammit.
- LA Times: Mexico should pay attention to International Anti-Corruption Day -
Why should Mexico be particularly interested? Because, as we reported today, more than 5,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence so far this year -- that's more than double the toll for that time period in 2007. Although a lot of the violence is being put down to infighting in the drug gangs, corruption within Mexico's police force and legal branch is also a major obstacle to bringing down the powerful drug networks.
President Felipe Calderon's government is currently undergoing a probe called Operation Cleanup, which has resulted in a number of ugly discoveries within its ranks. As Tracy Wilkinson reports in the dispatch linked to above: "Mexican law enforcement has also suffered its worst corruption scandal in a decade, with dozens of senior officials and agents accused of accepting money to pass secrets to traffickers."
Market Watch: PriceWaterhouseCoopers has decided that there is more money to be made in fighting corruption than in turning a blind eye. Bravo.
The irony is not lost on the hometown news, but the real story is this awesome picture.
Transparency International: They just won my undying admiration and a place on my blogroll with this BRIBE PAYER INDEX! "The 2008 BPI ranks 22 of the world’s wealthiest and economically dominant countries by the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad."
Scores range from 0 to 10. The higher the score for the country, the lower the likelihood of companies from this country to engage in bribery when doing business abroad.
First place in the 2008 BPI is shared by Belgium and Canada with a score of 8.8, signifying that Belgian and Canadian firms are the least likely to engage in bribery when doing business abroad. Netherlands and Switzerland occupy third place in the index, each with a score of 8.7. At the other end of the scale is Russia, coming in last with a score of 5.9, just trailing China (6.5), Mexico (6.6) and India (6.8).
“The BPI provides evidence that a number of companies from major exporting countries still use bribery to win business abroad, despite awareness of its damaging impact on corporate reputations and ordinary communities,” said Transparency International Chair, Huguette Labelle. “The inequity and injustice that corruption causes make it vital for governments to redouble their efforts to enforce existing laws and regulations on foreign bribery and for companies to adopt effective anti-bribery programmes. In this spirit, all major exporting countries should commit to the provisions of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.”
The 2008 Bribe Payers Survey, which serves as the basis for the 2008 BPI, provides a closer looks at how corruption affects the private sector. Two new sector rankings highlight the likelihood of firms in 19 specific sectors to engage in bribery and exert undue influence.
Bribery of Public Officials by Sectors
The first ranking shows how likely companies in each sector are to bribe public officials. According to senior business executives, companies in public works contracts/ construction, and real estate and property development, are the worst offenders. Fisheries and the banking and finance sector were identified as the cleanest sectors in this regard.
Possible scores range from 0 to 10. 0 represents the view that ‘bribes are almost always paid’ and 10 that ‘bribes are never paid’ by a sector.
So, this holiday is a pretty good one kids. We could call it Rod Blagoyevich Day in honor of the big fish that was caught today. But that would be silly and premature because there are a lot of even bigger fish still out there in corruption-land that we need to catch.
What do you say we meet back here next year and celebrate this day by calling it Dick Cheney Day?