The first step in the fight against corruption can be intimidating. Corruption is not only a complex problem, but it is also a subject that is associated with a specialized jargon on which knowledge have greatly evolved. This page introduces the basic concepts of anti-corruption.
1. What is corruption?
Define corruption is a challenge in itself. It takes many forms and the authors develop constantly new ways to corrupt and to cover their tracks. Much energy has been spent to develop different definitions of corruption, but in general people know recognize corruption when they see it and this despite its complex nature.
Corruption can be defined how being “abuse of responsibilities to enrich themselves personally” . This definition takes into account three elements of corruption. The first is that corruption is involved as much in the public domain only in private (as well as in the media and civil society). The second is that abuse of power is taking place within an instance public or in a private organization and the third, as the corrupted (possibly a third party such as for example a party policy) or the briber benefit, it may be monetary or take the form of an unfair advantage. Sometimes it may happen that the “advantage” obtained by the briber is not ‘excessive’ or is equivocal, but it is nevertheless an advantage. So in a society where there is corruption, the right to health and education is assured that by paying illegal bribes and this creates a disparity of access for those who can afford to pay. In such circumstances the advantage granted to the briber is not one, insofar as this advantage should be the rule. In the same way, the corrupt receive an advantage to make a service that they are obliged to provide.
It is common to differentiate between “large” and “small” corruption (also known as ‘administrative’). Typically the corruption takes place in most levels of the public service and the management level of enterprises where policies and regulations are developed and where decisions concerning high sums of money are made (political corruption is a term commonly used to refer specifically to the influence of money in election campaigns and the workings of political parties). The small corruption or administrative corruption is also a daily corruption  which takes place at the level of implementation of public policies, where officials meet users. It then comes to corruption (bribes) linked to the laws, regulations in place or abuse of authority met on a daily basis as for example when the traffic officer asks payments to taxi drivers to leave them in peace. The sums involved in this type of Exchange are often modest but because of the endemic nature of this petty corruption, you reach funds total high comparable to the great corruption, affecting the proper functioning of public services.
It’s important to point out that there are differences in the way of categorizing the various manifestations of corruption. It is difficult to distinguish clearly there where petty corruption stops and where the corruption starts. Employees who are calling for the citizens of undue payments may be motivated by a pay cut imposed by their managers, who themselves pay a part of their salary to their superiors and this situation breeds until the top of the hierarchy.
2. Why is corruption a problem for development?
The cost of corruption: the citizens are forced to pay for services that should be free. the abuse of corrupt politicians burdening national budgets; public expenditure are biased to the extent that the proponents of the decision-making power are looking for activities that may potentially yield large bribes as the great public works project; foreign direct investment are thwarted as long as companies turn off to engage in countries where the environment is uncertain; and economies suffer. The cost of corruption is not only monetary. It is paid by the loss of confidence of users and the reluctance of the citizens to become involved in society. Corruption often has ties to organized crime and it is generated or even thrives in the conflicts and wars. Indeed high levels of corruption can increase the likelihood that a conflict is prolonged or the war resumed in a country that has just come out. Efforts to address climate change can also be undermined by corruption as long as bribes are paid to ignore environmental protection regulations and continue to make a profit. National security and the same values of democracy are being undermined while the achievement of development goals is threatened.
3. The forms of corruptions
Many corrupt practices are prohibited by criminal and administrative law in many countries. The United Nations Convention against corruption (see section 5) details the forms of behavior covered by the corruption that signatory States should or are encouraged to introduce in their criminal law. Acts may fall of corruption even if they are not prohibited by the law and we often talk about the elusive nature and complex corruption. It manifests itself constantly in a different way and all its manifestations are not always captured by criminal and administrative law hence the importance given by the actors in the fight against corruption prevention rather than the only sanction (see debate section 5). The Convention against corruption (UNCAC) defines the most common forms of corruption as follows. Bribery exists when a person exercising a power accepts or solicits a bribe to fulfil its function in a given direction. The commission (Kickback, bribery in French) is comparable to the bribe but the term is generally reference to payment received in return for obtaining a contract payment that is surrendered to an intermediary who assured the transaction. Corruption of foreign public officials by private actors is also a crime in some countries . Even if the corruption took place in the country where is domiciled company, payment of a bribe can be punished by the authorities of that country. Some countries outlaw yet not this type of behavior, illustrating the mention above all acts of corruption are not illegal.
Trading in influence (influence peddling in English) is a form of corruption. It takes form when someone promises to unduly influence the decision of an official or a private back an illegitimate advantage contractor. These are usually the holders of the highest authorities or persons exercising political power or using its relationships that are at the origin of influence peddling. The influence of these people referred to their relations with holders of power that is monetized in cash or by an unfair advantage. This does not constitute a criminal offence in all countries although international conventions and particularly the UNCAC recommend it. Made illicit enrichment refers to a situation in which officials can explain their personal wealth by revenues they receive legally. This unexplained fortune may come a bribe or a form of flight such as embezzlement, depredation, concealment of property, money laundering, falsification of accounting or the accounting forgery. All these acts of corruption can also exist in the private sector.
4. The conditions facilitating corruption
Corruption can develop in different political and economic contexts very different and yet it thrives especially in countries where the ‘accountability’ (obligation to account for the exercise of responsibility or accountability in French) remains low at the level of procedures and governance mechanisms. It is important to keep in mind that the weakness of these governance mechanisms does not necessarily corruption. Indeed honest people continue to behave honestly and certain behaviors are more incompetence and mismanagement and corruption. Although the factors vary greatly from one place to another and from one period to another, four preconditions seem to favour corruption. The first condition encouraging corruption is the existence of absolute necessities and incentives encouraging an individual to engage in acts of corruption. This can for example take the form of minimal and irregular remuneration for public servants who have a large family to support. These officials may feel forced to engage in corruption. Social norms can also create incentives to participate in corruption, and norms that encourage them to pay special attention to some people, members of his family or members of the same political group. Political pressure can also persuade people to act dishonestly as in the case of a candidate in the elections, which grants preferential treatment to a group to ensure voices, and this, at the expense of the public good. The second precondition is linked to the existence of multiple personal enrichment opportunities that increase the temptation of corruption. Some economic environments are more conducive to corruption, for example the territories rich in oil and minerals are plots more conducive than the places dominated by subsistence agriculture. The size and growth of national budgets contribute to define opportunities for corruption and the place left to discretion in the allocation of resources provides opportunities for corruption.
The third condition is access and control of the means of corruption. If the incentives and opportunities create opportunities, it is also that situations exist to engage in corruption. It can be control held on administrative procedure on procurement procurement or on the ‘offshore’ accounts or mastering the techniques of money laundering.
The fourth prerequisite is the reduced risk of disclosure and punishment. Corruption develops there where the controls are inadequate and not operating. The absence of surveillance, police investigations and lawsuits encourage corruption. The weakness of controls internally in terms of accounting, audits, and the system of personnel management are also favourable conditions for corruption. Fears of politicians and officials are much less where the media and civil society are controlled and censored.
5. To deal with corruption
The fight against corruption does not only punish corrupt persons, even if to prosecute these individuals is important to demonstrate that corruption is not tolerated. No senior official or businessman more wealthy cannot escape prosecution. The criminalization of acts of corruption is shown above (section 3). Yet a holistic approach to deal with corruption exceeds the question of criminalisation or prosecution. This approach induces to take measures necessary to avoid corruption, build systems of governance based on transparency and accountability, to strengthen the capacity of civil society and the media, as well as to improve the level of public integrity, to strengthen the ethics in business and public bodies private and probably also to defy social norms that encourage corruption. Measurement tools for assessing the need for intervention to combat corruption and evaluate their success are an integral part of these reform efforts. Indices of corruption proliferating over the past decades are useful tools to draw the attention of the media on this issue. Given the variety of indices and indicators that are produced by civil society, international organizations or Governments for purposes often very different, it is important to understand what they can bring and what are their limits before use to define a policy or anti-corruption programs.
Although there is no ready-made solution, we propose in the paragraphs that follow an approach to fight against corruption based on the recommendations of the United Nations anti-corruption Convention. The UNCAC establishes a comprehensive approach without exhaustive however to prevent corruption in the public sector and the private sector, for asset recovery and international cooperation. We have chosen here to explain some prevention approaches proposed by the UNCAC. In the final analysis any approach to combating corruption must take into account the political will that exists in the country to lead reforms.
The UNCAC includes and details the prevention practices that have been developed in recent years by many countries. These countries have generally approached corruption, with more or less success, through “national strategies against corruption”, drawing up lists of the risks of corruption within Government and the different sectors of activity, and by appointing the necessary reforms. A common starting point was to establish a commission national anti-corruption. In some cases these commissions have been provided with power of investigation and prosecution function, in others a function of awareness and education of the public or a monitoring function. Some committees may also exercise a monitoring function and may combine the functions set out. However, please note that a separate proceeding is not strictly necessary to deal with corruption. A country may also decide to rely on the existing institutions which can then share the responsibilities. The integration of the measures against corruption (mainstreaming anti-corruption in English) in the various public policies can be an additional step.
Beyond the creation of specific to support the fight against corruption, laws and instruments anti-corruption, States may also have recourse to a whole battery of other preventive measures to which it refers generally when we talk about good governance and public integrity. The UNCAC describes a series of actions that States can implement to improve the conduct and performance of public officials . The procedures for recruitment and promotion of officials and other servants of the public service can be strengthened to ensure that they are transparent and respectful of meritocracy. The quality of the work and respect for ethical standards can be improved by reminding officials training programs the suitable and adequate way to ensure the provision of services. Officials may also draw up codes of conduct customized meet the particularity of their duties while more experienced officials can strengthen their integrity by agreeing to declare their assets and potential conflicts of interest. The UNCAC establishes measures of prevention of corruption in the private sector. This includes codes of conduct, for the professions and the promotion of good business practices between undertakings for example on fair terms in contracts. States are responsible for promoting transparency in the private sector, including by measures ensuring transparency on the identity of the people who run companies. With regard to transparency and the prevention of corruption it is recommended that States develop and implement clear procedures for regulation of private entities regarding for example subsidies and licences granted by public authorities for commercial activities. To prevent conflicts of interest, the UNCAC recommends restrictions on the exercise of professional activities by former public agents in the private sector when such activities are directly related to the duties performed previously. Priority is given to internal audits to prevent and detect acts of corruption. The emphasis is in the UNCAC on the active participation of citizens in the Affairs of the State. Ensure access to information and encourage the participation of the public in these processes are recommended. It is specified that access to information is effective insofar as storage of information within government systems ensure safe and reliable conservation of documents, particularly those relating to public expenditure. Civil society groups can be encouraged to play an important role in the decision-making process and to ensure that political actors accountable for their actions.
The main concern of these preventive measures is to build systems of governance that are transparent and accountable and so as to limit the risks and opportunities for corruption.
The UNFCCC sets out the manner with which the States must cooperate in investigations and procedures relating to corruption. For example establishes the technical details of the extradition of persons between the States for offences of corruption. She advocates strongly mutual assistance between States which includes actions to collect testimonies and statements on the request of another State, justify judicial acts, freezing, examine objects and places, provide information (documents administrative, banking, financial or commercial among others) in order to allow States to initiate proceedings in cases of corruption involving people who may live or have their activities in other States.
The UNCAC details the way in which States should assist one another to ensure that the proceeds of crime of corruption be returned to the rightful owners. Obligation should be made to financial institutions to scrutinize funds from large accounts by people who exercise or have exercised important public duties in order to detect and report suspicious transactions to the competent authorities. Obligation should be made to public officials having an interest on accounts domiciled in a foreign country to report this link to the competent authorities and maintain adequate records of these accounts.
6. Fight against corruption in official assistance (ODA) and ODA as variable facilitating corruption
Official development assistance is concerned in two ways by corruption. The first is that the terms of development assistance are often ‘vulnerable’ to corruption. The second is related to the possibility that the flow of aid contributes to high levels of corruption in recipient countries. In recent years, researchers have tried to determine what were the least likely to generate corruption aid modalities. The evidence failed to differentiate the benefits of support to the budget from the support to the project in the fight against corruption. However it was shown that it is better to use another modality that budget support in countries that receive the most international aid while there is already a level high corruption.
Official development assistance can also generate corruption in recipient countries providing likely to monopolize resources. Yet the aid effectiveness depends in large part on the quality of public policy and governance as much on the side of recipient countries development bilateral agencies. In the absence of good governance, effectiveness of aid declines due to the loss of funds to the level of development projects or national budgets due to corruption problems. Corruption can occur at all stages of international assistance, the definition of the project through the bidding process, the implementation up to the audit of the project. Corruption can be created by passing contract with ineffective and incompetent companies for delivery of services in too high costs and implementation of inappropriate and piecemeal projects.
The danger of corruption in public aid to development is obvious: assistance is diverted from its original objectives by corrupt politicians and public officials and it is spent to provide greater opportunities for enrichment person. These are poor, the most vulnerable populations and persons deprived of the right to vote who are suffering.