Archive for the 'Corruption' Category

More Transparency Talk within the Environmental Debate

The panel on post-Rio+20 challenges highlighted the reasons why environmental degradation should be seeing as a sign of corruption.

As the negotiations in Doha, Qatar, unfold during the 18th UN Conference on Climate Change many of the issues that were discussed at the recent 15IACC have came to my mind. It was
a month ago that I had the pleasure to moderate the panel about sustainable development and transparency at the meeting in Brasilia.

At that opportunity, some of the panelists expressed optimism on multilateral efforts among countries to address urgent planetary problems. Others, nonetheless, have pointed that we are running late to save humanity, and corruption is part of the fail.

The participants were the ministry of Environment of Brazil, Izabella Teixeira, the acting president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Manish Bapna, the director of World Vision International, Beris Gwyne, and the executive director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naido. The secretary of UNEP, Achim Steiner, has sent a video message.

Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the World Resources Institute

I ask them to give us an overview on their expectations after the agreement reached at the Rio+20 summit, in June this year. Minister Izabella was the optimist: she mentioned the start of a new moment, a new process to set the Sustainable Development Goals. But Kumi explained why he sees the agreement as the “longest suicidal note” in history. For him, governments are ceding to lobby of powerful sectors of economy, delaying action.

I thought that Manish Bapna brought new insights by mentioning that access to information can revolutionize the transparency movement. The reporter Jessica Weiss, one of the fellows of the young journalists grant, has wrote a nice piece on the ideas presented by the president of the WRI, see here

It was somehow surprising to me at the beginning to listen Steiner saying that it was not more laws, frameworks or conventions that we are lacking, but enforcement. Sounds obvious, but I like his examples on the necessity of giving governments technical capacity to be transparent, by equipping laboratories, environmental institutes and so on.

Beris Gwynne, from World Vision International, came with a broader issue to be discussed: the power itself of influencing decisions. Has the power really shifted hands with all the instruments and means of civil society participation, she asked?

I think the Kyoto Protocol, which the first period finishes this year, is a good example. Right now, while I sit in my office in rainy São Paulo the treaty is being discussed at the dry Arabian Peninsula. What this piece of international law represents on my life is difficult to know at the present. But, if the climate scenarios are confirmed, its failure could one day be felt by all in the future. When this moment arrives, will society look back and see the environmental degradation as a sign of corruption?

Gustavo Faleiros, Knight International Fellow

By Gustavo Faleiros. Gustavo is a Brazilian journalist, Knight International Fellow. He moderated the panel Rio+20: can we live in a corruption free World? at the 15th IACC

A Country Without Corruption?



Have you ever wondered if it is possible that a country could exist without impunity? With people who are not willing to be corrupted? We know that corruption is like an evil tattoo on the globe’s skin, but perhaps in a “distant nation” that could live without bribes, no crooked acts would be able to “bite”.

To my knowledge, this nation today exists only in our imagination. However, there are thousands of people around the world who struggle to build a culture of accountability and anticorruption in their countries, and many of them were gathered at the 15th Conference of Anti-Corruption in Brasilia this month. From that conference, here are the most important points of the final declaration of the event, with related comments from Eduardo Bohorquez, director of the Mexico chapter of Transparency International Mexico, and some other experts (continued below photo).


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff during the 15th IACC in Brasilia.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff during the 15th IACC in Brasilia.

“Citizens, acting in coordination, can more effectively challenge governments, corporations, financial institutions, sports bodies or international organisations that neglect their duty towards them.”

“The secret is not the act of individuals alone, but empowering institutions,” said Barry O’Keefe, chairman of the 15th IACC in the plenary. He also mentioned that in order to happen a significant change in society, it must be through existing agencies, who must be at the service of civil society.

Bohorquez from TI Mexico added the importance of specialized media, that one focused on investigative journalism working with anticorruption issues in a local perspective.


“Secrecy in the world of money has meant trillions lost by developing countries. To restore their trust, transparency and accountability must be rooted in the financial system.”

The world’s financial system today allows easy international money movements. Similarly, individuals and institutions acting corruptly can hide and evade the law by these means.

Manfredo Marroquin, Acción Ciudadana AC president, said that the main problem in Latin America is that corruption is a tradition in the region: “In Latin America there is a historical dissociation between transparency and security. We have never combined both, there is a culture of secrecy “. As an example put the illegal financing of political parties, where there is no clear accountability in his country, Guatemala.

Moreover Bohorquez says the Mexican financial system is hurt by the “everyday corruption”, the one that affects most all families: “While searching the vast corruption control, you have to learn what hurts people, petty corruption, if you have less than a minimum wage, you spend 30% of your earnings in corruption, for drinking water, for roads, bribes so your child enters to the school you want … ”


“Empowerment of civil society to review the distribution of aid and the extraction of minerals is a key element.”

Manish Bampna, from the World Resources Institute , spoke on the importance of taking new technologies to combat corruption in the energy sector and in the environment: “In the near future I want to see that access to information extraction natural resources is a reality. ”

Furthermore, Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said that we are still far from reaching a treaty that will ensure sustainable development parallel to mankind’s current lifestyle. Referring to the outcome document of Rio +20, he was skeptical, “however, this is what we have and we should work with it” he said.

Bohorquez said that there are many complaints from the public services and the distribution of resources but few are those who wonder why it does not work. “Companies get bribes so they give concessions to friends, those who own certain companies”.


“In the realm of sports, fans and sponsors, players and athletes need power over the bodies that run their sport. These bodies should be encouraged to lead by example by upholding basic principles of integrity.”

Sports were discussed several times during the conference, especially because in less than two years Brazil will host the World Cup. To fight corruption in sports in Brazil, the  National Secretary for Football, Luis Antonio Paulino, announced that an Agency for Combating Corruption for Sport will be created.

The objective of this project is not only to stop corruption during the World Cup, but to set an example for the following tournaments. We will see how it goes.


(Andrea Arzaba, November 2012)

Brasilia: a tale of two corruption events

Brazil’s Supreme Court has just delivered what many observers see as one of the most significant verdicts against corruption in the country’s history. José Dirceu, chief of staff of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was jailed for 10 years and 10 months on Monday over the so-called mensalão scheme to buy votes in Congress.

The affair – which has seen about two dozen other officials of the ruling Workers’ Party also convicted – was “a crime aimed at inflicting grave injury to our democracy”, according to Joaquim Barbosa, lead judge in the case. > Read full story

Resilience in Kabul: Afghans Take on Corruption to Rebuild their Country

“I have a life in Kabul,” insisted Seema Ghani, Executive Director of the Monitoring Evaluation Committee (MEC), a joint Afghan and international body dedicated to transparency and accountability in Afghanistan. Ms. Ghani explained that, despite the many challenges that Afghans face, significant progress has been made towards stabilizing parts of the country. She argued that Westerners forget that people are trying and, in her experience, succeeding in getting on with their lives.

On Friday at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia, representatives from government, civil society, and the military held a press conference on the achievements and challenges of fighting corruption in Afghanistan. Panelists shared their unexpected success stories in dealing with the Afghan government as well as their concerns about the politics at home and abroad.

“I admit that I was considering resigning until March of this year,” reflected Ms. Ghani. “But then I started to see the progress with my own eyes. I decided to continue and since I’ve seen 98% of our benchmarks implemented.”

> Read full story

Garzón, the last exile from spanish dictatorship

When newspapers in your host country only mention Spain to talk about its crisis, its evictions, cuts and corruption of its politicians, seeing an audience of 140 nationalities cheering Baltasar Garzon was like a reconciliation with my country.

The judge answered questions raised by the public, received books, had his picture taken and answered dozens of reporters- even while having a broken voice due to a virus. In Spain, however, he cannot practice his profession and although for a large segment of society he is a hero, the rest think of him as a villain.

His order to wiretap leaders of the largest network of corruption linked to a political party ended his career. Garzón does not fear saying that the dismissal process was “arbitrary, unfair” and “irregular” and said he will take Spain to the European Court of Human Rights after the Constitutional Court rejected his appeal for protection.

Baltasar Garzón

The judge also criticized Spain for the barriers imposed while he was preparing to investigate the offshore accounts of over a hundred other participants. The diversion of money to offshore territories was one of the claims of his speech. “It is unacceptable that after 10 years of discussion within the European Union, there has been no agreement on such systems. Perhaps the explanation is that, in one way or another, the European Union countries are the most related to transactions and operations in tax heavens.”

Among his claims, he proposed an amendment to laws in order to better facilitate the fight against corruption by the judiciary. Garzón said that corruption is not configured as a crime, but the crime lies in behavior relating to it. Thus arose the need for corruption to be considered a crime under international jurisdiction.

“It is increasingly clear linking corruption and transnational serious facts within the jurisdiction of the international court,” he said. “Genocide crimes, drug trafficking, piracy …. In all of them there are elements of corruption and any judge of any country should have an obligation to investigate.”

“Corruption is itself a major crime category and therefore should have no difficulty to contemplate corruption within the international jurisdiction but there is lack of political intention,” he said.

Garzón, who is representing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, now begins a series of trips through Latin America. He had to leave Spain (he describes himself as the “last exile from Franco) but his corruption lessons now resonate in the rest of the world.

Photo: ©

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