One of the most striking findings from Transparency International’s latest worldwide corruption survey, the Global Corruption Barometer, is that most people firmly believe in their own power to combat corruption.
Latin American and the Caribbean lead the pack in this regard, with 70% of citizens across the region saying that ordinary people can make a difference. That figure rises to over 80% in places like Brazil, Costa Rica and Paraguay, and around the world it is young people who most believe in their ability to create change.
A key part of Transparency International’s work is to help people hold their governments to account.
We remove obstacles that prevent people from accessing information or speaking out against wrong-doing, and work with governments to fix the laws and processes to make it easier for citizens to participate.
Our chapters around the world are the heroes in this battle for accountability.
The work they do is often not easy - or glamourous - and it can be a long and slow process to make the state more accountable to its citizens.
Take the Maldives, where our national chapter was holding a training with the civil servants who process right to information requests. It turned out that lots of requests were being rejected due to an administrative mistake: a form required people to give the reason for request, even though this wasn’t legally necessary. Officers were rejecting applications based on the empty field in the form. It took Transparency International Maldives two years of lobbying to persuade the government to change that field to ‘optional’ on the form. It’s a small but important step, and it speaks volumes to the dedication and perseverance of our chapters.
Or take Palestine where this year our National Chapter, AMAN, persuaded the Palestinian Authority to make public budgets and financial audit reports easily accessible online. The government also created a new and more transparent digital portal for the social welfare system – something AMAN and its partners in a coalition of civil society organisations had been advocating for.
Over on our blog, Voices for Transparency we’ve recently featured a story about how corruption was facilitating an illegal trade in wood from rare Mukula trees in Zambia. International organisations and companies work with the government there to provide alternative sources of livelihood for villagers and prevent deforestation, but people were often lacking information on the program they were joining. Our chapter in Zambia organised meetings to encourage villagers to make sure they also benefit and are treated as partners in a truly collaborative scheme.
Meanwhile in Madagascar, Transparency International Initiative Madagascar brought women’s land rights to the forefront of the public’s awareness with televised debates and a documentary film. They are campaigning to remove the stigma of women seeking to have their land rights recognised in a deeply patriarchal society.
In Pakistan, our chapter discovered that doctors at state hospitals were skipping their work in public hospitals in order to run their own private clinics. Pressure from our chapter led to the provincial authorities enforcing the law. Four months later, the people of Usta Muhammad told us that conditions in the government hospital was were much better: doctors were no longer absent and were visiting patients regularly.
And in Italy, our chapter played a key role in bringing a corrupt railway executive to justice in a historic case which also led to legislation to protect whistleblowers being passed in the Italian parliament.
These are just a tiny sample of the victories our chapters have achieved around the world this year.
This anti-corruption day, consider how you can make a difference. Whether you report corruption that you have experienced, make a small but important gesture like signing our declaration against corruption or simply connect with us online and help us spread the word, you can contribute to the difference our movement makes in the lives of ordinary people around the world.
And, if you would like to make a financial contribution to our work, we have a special Anti-Corruption Day 2017 Appeal which you can find here.
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