Imagine a school assembly in Anywhere, USA. The announcer takes the stage and with great fanfare says, “Attention, teachers, students, parents and welcomed guests, we are honored to present this year’s anti-corruption award to our very own anti-corruption hero… and this year’s recipient is …!”
Now at the moment, this is not an award that is given in schools across our country. It is however an award given by Transparency International as the Anti-Corruption Award. It recognizes the courage and determination of the many individuals and organizations fighting corruption around the world.
The Award honors remarkable individuals and organizations worldwide, including journalists, public prosecutors, government officials and civil society leaders.
It is an award that is very much needed, and I wish it would extend into our school systems so that students, their teachers and their families could be more aware that fighting corruption pays off.
Rise of fraud and corruption
This is an era where fraud and corruption are on the rise, where the United States has fallen to a score of 69, its lowest score in eight years; the first time since 2011 that the U.S. has fallen outside of the top 20 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) list.
The CPI is an index published annually since 1995 by Transparency International, which ranks countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by ‘expert assessments’ and opinion surveys.” This year’s study highlighted the relationship between politics, money and corruption.
Using the definition of corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit,” the Index currently ranks 180 countries on a scale from 100 (“very clean”) to 0 (“highly corrupt”). Unfortunately, to date, the CPI shows that there is little to no improvement in the majority of countries worldwide.
In 2017 a public opinion survey published by Transparency International showed nearly six in ten Americans believed that the U.S. was more corrupt than the previous year. In fact, it had a score of 75. In 2018 the U.S had a score of 71. The latest score of 69 emphasizes this growing divide in trust.
More than 130 countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption. Even sadder and more alarming, their research shows that more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average score of 43.
Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions, and in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption
– Patricia Moriera
According to Patricia Moreira, TI’s Managing Director, “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions, and in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption,”…“Around the world, we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights, and the U.S. is no exception.” (Visit the CPI 2019 report for full recommendations.)
Awarding those who fight corruption
The Anti-Corruption Award recognizes particular actions or initiatives undertaken by one or several individuals or organizations, which together constitute a tangible contribution to the fight against corruption and the mission of Transparency International. Nominations are open, and the public award ceremony honoring a recipient will take place in Seoul, Korea in June of this year.
Transparency International looks at three criteria to determine recipients: Impact, Courage and Sustainability, with the winners having had a significant impact on corruption in their respective countries. The winners echo a common theme, and that is that corruption can be challenged.
Transparency International’s vision is challenging, and I highly respect their efforts: One global movement sharing one vision: a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free from corruption. With more than 100 national chapters worldwide the organization works with partners in government, business and civil society to put effective measures in place to tackle corruption.
Can we change direction?
What I find not only sad but very disturbing is that the CPI trends shows that there has been no real progress worldwide in addressing corruption.
It looks as if we are definitely headed in the wrong direction. Can this direction be stopped?
Or is it too late and we’ve turned a corner from which there is no turning back?