A new awareness of the need to curb corruption has emerged among citizens and leaders in all parts of the world. Whereas overt discussions of corruption were taboo only a decade ago, now corruption is the increasing focus of diplomatic discourse, news and research. As the linkage between corruption and development has become clear, governments, business, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and donor agencies have sought to address corruption aggressively. Democratic politics, global markets, and a variety of international and regional factors (for example, EU accession) have provided openings for reformers to combat corruption and lay the foundation for more equitable, just, and prosperous communities.
This work is of vital importance to the economic, environmental, political and social welfare of communities where corruption is pervasive. New research shows that there is a strong causal effect running from control of corruption to higher income levels and to such development outcomes as lower infant mortality rates and higher rates of literacy. Corruption retards economic growth through a number of channels: it leads to the inefficient allocation of resources, increases the cost of business, decreases investor confidence, reduces competition, and raises the cost and decreases the quality of public projects and services. Corruption also jeopardizes efforts to protect the environment as pay-offs derail the formulation or implementation of effective policies. The political consequences of widespread corruption, while less tangible, are no less real. Corruption undermines the legitimacy of elected officials and democratic values, reduces representation in policymaking, erodes rule of law, and impairs performance of public institutions. Corruption also facilitates trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. For these reasons, corruption increases social polarization and, in extreme cases, can trigger social and political upheaval.
The work of non-governmental organizations such as Transparency International, international organizations, scholars and practitioners has increased understanding of the issues and led to more informed approaches to corruption problems. Key among these is the lesson that anti-corruption efforts cannot rely on enforcement alone, but require a three-pronged approach of prevention, awareness, and enforcement in order to make real inroads against corruption. Preventative measures include limiting opportunities for corruption, increasing transparency, improving oversight, and realigning official incentives to public ends, while awareness-raising measures include strengthening civil society organizations, advocacy, monitoring, and investigative journalism. Further, this work has shown that meaningful reductions in corruption require political leadership, collective action, and an in-depth knowledge of the situation in order to craft reform strategies that are tailored to the specific problem, and to the opportunities and constraints for addressing it.
Fighting corruption has become a larger priority in U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid in the past few years. U.S. assistance for discrete anti-corruption programs has grown to tens of millions of dollars annually, while anti-corruption measures have become increasingly integrated into other sectoral programs, such as disaster relief, economic growth, and environmental protection. Buttressing these efforts, the U.S. Congress passed the International Anticorruption and Good Governance Act of 2000 to ensure that U.S. assistance programs help other countries combat corruption and improve transparency and accountability throughout the government and the private sector.
The Bush administration has pushed this agenda further, making anti-corruption a key focus of its development policy. At the U.N-sponsored Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development in March 2002, President Bush launched the Millennium Challenge Account, which makes an additional $5 billion of development assistance available over three years to countries that are committed to anti-corruption and good governance, among other goals. In 2002, the Bush administration also advanced anti-corruption as a key theme in the World Food Summit, the G-7/8 Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
TraCCC Initiatives – Corruption
TraCCC and its overseas centers are engaged in a number of initiatives to combat corruption. In partnership with scholars in Budapest and St. Petersburg, TraCCC researched corruption in business-government relations at the local level to improve anti-corruption policies in transition countries. TraCCC is also completed research into corruption in higher education in Ukraine and Georgia; and corruption in energy, transport and contraband trade in Georgia.
For the past eight years, TraCCC has had several PhD candidates focus their dissertations on the topic of corruption. In 2004, Jongsoon Jin, PhD candidate in public administration at American University, defended his dissertation, entitled “Corruption and the Time Horizon of Politicians.” In 2005, TraCCC Doctoral Fellow, Christopher Corpora defended his dissertation entitled “Connections, Conundrums, and Criminality: Understanding Local Perceptions About and Attitudes Toward Organized Crime and Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina. TraCCC PhD student, Carmen Apaza, received a grant from the National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan. Carmen and four other graduate students from all over the world were part of the “Global Young Elites Summit on Technology, Policy and Management”, held in Taipei from 26-30 November 2006. As part of the Young Elites, she lead a conference and presented a paper entitled, “Public Management Challenge: Ensuring Accountability and Controlling Corruption.” In 2009, current PhD student Andy Guth was published in Trends in Organized Crime with his article “Human Trafficking in the Philippines: The need for and effective anti-corruption program.” In 2011, Guth was appointed as an editor of the Corruption Research Network, part of Transparency International. It is a prestigious group of young scholars working worldwide on corruption issues.
In September of 2005, TraCCC’s Saratov Center hosted its academic seminar entitled ‘Criminal Trade in Weapons: Current Trends and Ways of Combating.’ Following the seminar, a group of prominent legal specialists and practitioners gathered as a working group to discuss new legislative projects and other salient issues of transnational crime and corruption in the Saratov region and across the Russian Federation. In the same month, TraCCC’s Georgia Office organized a conference on the “Reform of Law Enforcement Structures and Its Impact on Fighting Crime in Georgia”. The conference was held at Tbilisi State University.Finally, TRACCC and ABA-CEELI hosted a joint event on “Crime and Corruption Related to Migration in Russian Megalopolises: Comparative Analysis of Moscow and St. Petersburg Patterns” in Moscow. In October, TraCCC researchers Nabi Abdullaev and Simon Saradzhyan presented Trade-offs between security and Civil Liberties in Russia’s War on Terror: Four Regional Case Studies at the Moscow Carnegie Center, to an audience of government officials, journalists, and local academics. The authors warned that Russia was increasing the threat of terrorism by cracking down on civil liberties. They drew on case study analysis of four key regions in Russia: Chechnya, Dagestan, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. On October 25, TraCCC hosted a round-table discussion on corruption and governance in higher education, explaining how corruption can quickly sweep through an institution when the institution does not maintain oversight over corporate officers.
In more recent years, TraCCC has hosted several events and panels discussing corruption. In April 2006, TraCCC hosted a delegation from Iraq’s Commission for Public Integrity, Iraq’s leading anti-corruption agency. CPI is a fully independent, non-sectarian entity responsible for enforcing anti-corruption laws, proposing additional legislation to combat corruption, and heightening the Iraqi people’s demand for honest government through public relations campaigns and educational initiatives. In 2009, TraCCC hosted “An Anti-Corruption Exchange” with a small group of officials from Southern Sudan tasked by GOSS with the establishment of southern Sudan’s first anti-corruption body and legislative framework. In 2011, TraCCC hosted Alexandre Kukhianidze, the Director of of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center’s (TraCCC) Caucasus Office, for a rountable discussion on “Combating Corruption in Georgia: Reforms without Democratization?”.
TraCCC has also been proactive in creating literature on corruption by expanding their Routledge series. In 2007, TraCCC hosted a book launch event entitled “Is Everything Coming Up Roses? Georgia’s Battle with Organized Crime and Corruption following the 2003 Revolution”. The event featured TraCCC Director Dr. Louise Shelley and former TraCCC Georgia Program Managers Erik Scott and Anthony Latta, who co-edited TraCCC’s newest volume in its Routledge Publications series entitled Organized Crime and Corruption in Georgia, which examines the most enduring aspects of organized crime and corruption in Georgia and the most important reforms since the Rose Revolution. In 2008, TraCCC hosted a launch for Russia’s Battle with Crime, Corruption and Terrorism, the next book in TraCCC’s Routledge transnational crime and corruption series, with the book’s editor, Dr. Robert Orttung.