By Delia Ferreira Rubio (TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL Chair) and Rueben L. Lifuka (TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL Vice-Chair)
The world faces a complex and challenging future, one thrown into sharp relief by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Far from retreating, corruption threats are growing as we experience change and instability in politics, technology, public health, the environment and human security.
Globalisation, unprecedented connectivity and fast-moving technological change have deep implications for the concentration, use and abuse of power. Serious crises confront us all: from the climate crisis to rising inequality, from conflict and related displacement to assaults on human rights. Marked from its start by a devastating pandemic, the decade is already defined by uncertainty.
The theft and waste of vital public resources intended to save lives and help with economic recovery from the pandemic, makes obvious the human cost of corruption. It has also underlined that the fundamental frameworks for good governance and responsible business conduct cannot and must not be taken for granted.
Corruption is a human rights issue
The pandemic has also clearly shown that corruption is a human rights problem. Those countries affected by high levels of corruption were less prepared to provide adequate health care. The money lost to corruption was the same resources missing in hospitals: ventilators, medicines, sanitary supplies. Once more, and this time on a global scale, it was clear that corruption kills.
Tragic though it has been, the pandemic has provided us with an object lesson in why ending corruption is so critical to ensuring social and economic justice around the globe. It has also presented humanity with the challenge and the opportunity to recover better. This will only be possible and sustainable if we rebuild trust, on the basis of truth, and transparency. That is why Transparency International’s mission is more vital than ever.
Corrupt decision-making – whether in government, business, nationally or internationally – underpins the world’s greatest injustices. It deprives citizens of the rights and opportunities they need and deserve, and feeds further injustice by eroding the institutions meant to protect them.
Our pledge to fight corruption in the next decade
It is timely that this year we launch our Strategy 2030: Holding Power to Account for the Common Good. It is a strategy dedicated to leading the next decade’s fight against corruption by showing what it will take to achieve a more positive future for all.
To us, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This includes corruption in the public and business sectors, from local to international levels. It extends from petty corruption felt acutely by citizens every day, to kleptocracy and high-level grand corruption damaging entire societies. It includes abuse of entrusted power for material gain, like financial bribes, but also any benefits which breach that trust – from sexual exploitation to political corruption simply for the purpose of sustaining power, status or wealth.
Too many of those in government and business, to whom communities have entrusted power, have lost sight of the social purpose for which they accepted that power. Too many mechanisms for ensuring accountability in how decisionmakers come to power, and integrity in the conduct of officials and entrepreneurs, have not delivered, proved too weak or failed to adapt to an ever faster, more volatile world.
Together, can we confront these challenges and chart our way to a world in which transparency, integrity and the accountable use of power for the common good becomes the norm. This includes traditional powers but also the new centres of power in the surveillance society which jeopardizes individuals’ agency.
Transparency, integrity, and accountability must be guaranteed in relation to new decision-making tools based on Artificial Intelligence algorithms which are opaque and probably biased, unfair, and discriminatory. New forms of power ask for new accountability mechanisms.
The years to 2030 will be crucial in the global fight against corruption. Achieving a better, more just world will not be easy. It will require effort on many fronts. With commitment, support and active participation from citizens around the world, the new normal will be an era of joint action. We can and must do all in our power to secure accountability for a fair, sustainable and peaceful future.
HOLDING POWER TO ACCOUNT – A GLOBAL STRATEGY AGAINST CORRUPTION 2021-2030
In the years leading up to 2030, Transparency International is dedicated to leading the global fight against corruption.
Holding Power to Account – A Global Strategy Against Corruption 2021-2030 sets out how our diverse Movement – comprised of independent national chapters and affiliates in over 100 countries and the international Secretariat – aims to contribute to a more positive future; a world in which power is held to account, for the common good.
p/o Virginie Gastine Menou
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