World Bank Corruption Indicator Shows Little Improvement Globally

Analysis of most recent data from World Bank aggregate indicator Control of Corruption shows that results of the anti-corruption global campaign have been disappointing in effectively curbing corruption in the world

 

In the last two decades, the issue of corruption has gained great prominence in the international development agenda, mainly as a result of increasing evidence of corruption’s detrimental effect on economic growth and other policy outcomes. Many programmes have been supported and implemented by international donors in virtually all regions of the globe, and in the meanwhile the budget dedicated to finance anti-corruption policies has increased manifold. Despite all of these efforts and resources, recent indicators of corruption reveal that results have been meagre in terms of substantially reducing corruption in the world.

This has been the conclusion of an analysis conducted by ERCAS’s research team and presented at the roundtable “The global state of corruption control: who succeeds, who fails and what can be done about it”, held at the Hertie School of Governance on 18 October 2012. ERCAS’s researchers scrutinised the evolution of data from the Worldwide Governance Indicator (WGI) Control of Corruption, published by the World Bank for the period 1996-2011. Our analysis took into consideration data from 196 countries, and found that for the vast majority of them the scenario is of stagnation in control of corruption. Only 21 countries showed statistically significant improvement over the past 15 years, and 27 countries significantly regressed. In a regional perspective, some positive trends were also identified: the region with strongest positive development in this time-series was Central Europe and the Balkans, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean. On the other hand, Middle East and North Africa, together with Asia and the Pacific, have on average worsened.

 

 

The study also examined the trends for distinct groups of countries based on income level and democracy status. In both cases, the picture is rather gloomy. For all four income groups (low, low-middle, upper-middle and high), the average in the control of corruption indicator has declined since 1996, with a steeper deterioration in the case of upper-middle income countries. When contrasted with the significant increase in the number of countries in the top two income categories, these results suggest that countries are becoming richer much faster than they are catching up with good governance standards. In the analysis for countries at different democracy levels, based on the classification by US-based NGO Freedom House, all three groups of countries (free, partially free and not free) show on average slight deterioration in control of corruption.

These results were discussed at the roundtable by international scholars Prof. Claus Offe (Hertie School of Governance), Prof. Bo Rothstein (Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg), and Prof. Paul Heywood (University of Nottingham), and Transparency International’s Programme Director Dieter Zinnbauer. They highlighted the importance of having aggregate indicators of corruption that provide for general assessments and comparisons of the level of corruption in a large number of countries, but also argued for the need of improved indicators that can paint a more accurate picture in the case of individual countries. Moreover, Prof. Rothstein argued that this pessimistic scenario reflects the results (or lack thereof) of anti-corruption policies based on a misconception of where the problem of corruption truly lies, especially in the case of societies afflicted by widespread corruption.

The analysis produced by ERCAS is part of the research work conducted within the scope of project ANTICORRP and will set the background for global and regional trends reports to be published in early 2013, and for the selection of countries that will be examined in case-studies to be conducted in the next phases of the project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ERCAS Team Presents Research at International Conferences

Since its creation last March, ERCAS’s team has had the opportunity to disseminate the centre’s research work and approach at several international events, ranging from academic conferences to meetings targeted at the international donor community. Recently, two of our junior fellows, Aram Khaghaghordyan and Roberto Kukutschka, presented findings from ERCAS’s research work at events in Istanbul, Turkey and Karachi, Pakistan.

The conference in Istanbul, which took place on 19-21 September 2012, was organised by the UNDP Regional Centre in Bratislava and brought together representatives from UNDP country offices in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, government officials from the region, and analysts from universities and think-tanks in Europe. The event consisted of regional Community of Practice meetings of the Democratic Governance and Gender groups, and had as main purposes to produce an updated analysis of regional developments in democratic governance, and to further strengthen the role of UNDP’s Community of Practice.

ERCAS’s researcher Aram Khaghaghordyan presented at the session focused on Anti-Corruption, Transparency and Accountability, together with the Romanian Academic Society’s anti-corruption coordinator Laura Stefan. His presentation discussed previous work in assessing transitions to good governance and the importance of a contextualised approach to anti-corruption policies, in contrast to the predominant approaches implemented by governments and donor agencies in the past years. The presentation highlighted evidence that such approaches have been ineffective in fighting corruption, and argued that this is due to a theoretical misconception of the problem, in that a large part of anti-corruption measures replicated across the globe has been based on an understanding of corruption as a deviant behaviour, when in many developing countries it is in fact a social norm.

Roberto Kukutschka also discussed these issues at an international conference on corruption held on 20-21 October 2012 in Karachi. The event was entitled “Causes, Consequences and Control – Perspectives from Transitioning and Transitioned States” and aimed at fostering a critical assessment of anti-corruption policies with specific cultural and socio-economic contexts as a background, focusing especially on the relevance of this debate in the South Asian context. In his presentation, Kukutschka emphasised the watchdog role of civil society and the media as important determinants of reduced corruption and drivers of change in countries that have managed to advance in their transitions to good governance. This point was corroborated by the presentations of other participants, highlighting also the problems that emerge in countries where these actors face severe constraints to their watchdog activities.

 

Hertie School Hosts ANTICORRP Workshop

The Hertie School of Governance will be hosting on 18-20 October 2012 the 2nd meeting of the project ANTICORRP, funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). This meeting will gather participants of Work Packages 1, 2 and 3 in the form of a workshop for the discussion of theoretical and methodological questions that will guide further research activities in the project.

The workshop will be preceded by a roundtable at the Hertie School of Governance, entitled The Global State of Corruption Control. Who Succeeds, Who Fails and What Can Be Done About It. The Research Agenda. The research team for ANTICORRP at the Hertie School will present data on global and regional corruption trends, in connection with the project’s research agenda. A panel of discussants, introduced by ERCAS’s director Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and including Paul Heywood, Claus Offe, Bo Rothstein and Dieter Zinnbauer, will talk about lessons learned from developments in anti-corruption work, the need for improved governance indicators and the future research agenda in the field.

The workshop to be held on 19 and 20 October will consist of a series of presentations by ANTICORRP participating researchers, followed by discussions and planning for the next stages of the project. The topics addressed in the workshop will include a review of the latest theoretical developments in corruption research, issues of measurement and the development of new indicators, and the application of historic and ethnographic approaches to research on corruption. The debate on these issues will be complemented by presentations on historical case-studies conducted by participating researchers, and discussions on contemporary case-studies to be conducted as part of the project.

The case study research, together with qualitative comparisons across the selected cases, will aim at explaining why countries reach different equilibria regarding government accountability and control of corruption. They will trace the process and the mechanisms of change, the strategies of actors and the mechanism of altering the power distribution of particularistic societies leading to new equilibria. By attempting to identify the essential ingredients of these equilibria, the project seeks to offer a more dynamic and historically grounded model explaining the emergence and consolidation of governance regimes.

 

Corruption °C Publishes Data on Corruption Trials in Latvia

The portal Corruption °C, maintained by the Centre for Public Policy Providus from Latvia, has recently made available statistics on trials for offences committed in the public service in Latvia. The data has been collected by Providus and covers the period from 2004 to 2011.

The statistics show the trend in total number of trials, convictions and acquittals over the selected time period (see graph below), and also provides an overview of the distribution of cases according to the department or agency of the public officials involved. They also show in detail the amount of bribes associated with each criminal case. The portal highlights the relevance of the conviction of officials from the Development Department of Riga City Council, which was considered the most important corruption case in 2011 and involved a gross amount of bribes of about EUR 1,000,000, the largest amount of bribes in a criminal case with a verdict of guilty since the restoration of Latvia’s independence.

In addition to these statistics, Corruption °C also offers a series of reports on corruption, written by top Latvian experts as well as international authors. The portal, initiated in 2005, follows and analyses key trends in the area of corruption and anti-corruption policy in Latvia, and tracks flows of corruption-related news, identifying and providing in-depth analysis on the most important developments in the country. The website also focuses on placing Latvia’s developments into the European context.

Batory Foundation Launches Website on Political Finance in 7 Countries

The Stefan Batory Foundation, in cooperation with other seven NGOs*, has launched the website www.politicalfinance.org, devoted to analysing the regulation systems of campaign and political party financing in 7 countries: Armenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia and Poland.

The website is the result of a research project initiated in February 2012, whose goal was to examine political finance regulation in each country from the perspective of the mechanisms protecting policy-making against undue influence of interest groups. In addition to preparing the seven individual country reports, the project also conducted a comparative analysis of the different systems and highlighted advantages and disadvantages of each one, emphasising arrangements that can be seen as best practice.

The country reports are published on the website and cover the specific features of each regulatory system, including an assessment of the effectiveness of adopted solutions, case studies and policy recommendations. In addition to the country-specific recommendations, three common recommendations for the participating countries have been developed: (a) to increase availability of information on donors and original invoices and receipts on party expenditures; (b) to  strengthen the role of public institutions responsible for the oversight of party financing; and (c) to provide long-term financing of political parties from the public budget. The analysis and recommendations are published in English and Russian language versions.

A more detailed analysis of the country reports allows for a closer overview of how the regulatory systems differ from country to country and the particularly weaknesses that each country’s system presents.  The Armenia country report shows, for instance, how the lack of sanctions to false financial reports by political parties or illegal donations to election funds negatively affects the political finance environment in the country. In Estonia, the possibility of cash donations severely hinders transparency regarding the funds that political parties and campaigns receive. In Georgia, differently than in other of the selected countries, the country report emphasises issues related to the unequal application of electoral laws to different parties, which jeopardises the fairness of political competition and the electoral process. Apart from specific issues that each country faces, there are common obstacles to more integrity and equity in political finance in some of the countries, such as the need for restrictions on private or corporate donations, and for increased transparency and detail in the disclosure of donations and expenditures.

The participants to the project hope that the initiative will stimulate further discussion on the need for reforms in the political party financing sector and further advocacy efforts. In the long term, this initiative aims to determine positive changes in the financing of political parties and to contribute to improving transparency in this field as well as to prevent corruption.

 

*The other organisations contributing to this project are: Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland); Stanczyk Institute of Civic Thought Foundation (Poland); Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul” (Moldova); Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) (Georgia); Transparency International Anti-Corruption Centre (Armenia); Transparency International Czech Republic; Transparency International Estonia; and Open Society Forum (Mongolia).

 

Report Assesses TV Media Environment in Georgia

The interference of politics into Georgian media, particularly in the television sector, has been discussed in many studies on the country. A new report by Transparency International Georgia, released last month, re-examines this issue in light of the current electoral scenario. The study – entitled “Georgia’s Television Landscape” – finds that, despite recent changes in the legislation regulating the media sector, several broadcasters and providers in the sector are kept under the influence of political parties, or face attacks and intimidation.

The report highlights that the high political polarisation that has characterised the current electoral campaign has been reflected in partisan reporting from virtually all main TV stations, which take either a clear pro-government stance or openly support the opposition candidates. Based on survey data from Caucasus Research Resource Centres (CRRC), the report shows that this partisanship in TV media is clear to most viewers, as the majority of respondents claimed to perceive none of the channels with daily news coverage as politically independent. According to another report on media sustainability published by the organisation IREX, the Georgian government exercises pressure over TV outlets in several ways, such as favouring pro-government media with state advertising, pressuring private advertisers to not collaborate with independent media channels, offering financial support to television channels that commit to provide an allegedly objective coverage of current affairs, and also by carrying out selective tax inspections. TI-Georgia’s study also describes how several companies with strategic positions in the television sector have faced a series of difficulties in the past months. Some of the examples mentioned refer to investigative journalists having their equipment stolen, service providers to opposition-oriented broadcasters receiving fines after a tax audit, and channels supporting the opposition coalition having tens of thousands of satellite antennas seized based on vote-buying allegations, among other things.

In a country where television is the main source of current information for most citizens – about 80% in Tbilisi and 92% outside the capital –, the implications of this political polarisation on the quality of information that people receive are tremendous. Survey data from CRRC show that the two most popular TV stations are still the pro-government Imedi and Rustavi 2. However, the role of other channels with a more critical view of the government has increased due to funding (either direct or through advertising) by the opposition coalition Georgian Dream, which is led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

In the past years, important legislation has been introduced to minimise some of the problems that have been associated with the political influence over TV media in the country. An important achievement, for instance, were changes in the Law on Broadcasting which required license holders to disclose beneficiary owners, thereby improving TV ownership transparency. In the past months, the introduction of must-carry and must-offer regulation ahead of the elections has also had an important positive impact in allowing a larger share of the population to access TV stations with news coverage that is critical of the government. The law in principle “requires that service providers must carry certain TV channels with public value content (e.g. channels of the public broadcaster, local channels or channels with national news and current affairs programs) in their packages, while TV stations must offer their signal to service providers without discriminating against selected companies”, as mentioned in TI-Georgia’s report, and its passing was a major win for the advocacy campaign entitled “This Affects You Too”, organised by civil society representatives.

Despite these advancements, TI-Georgia emphasises some recommendations to further improve the TV media environment in the country. The report calls for impartiality and transparency in investigations related to media outlets, thorough investigation of intimidation measures taken against journalists and other media professionals. It also highlights the role of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) in monitoring the implementation of the must-carry and must-offer regulation and in improving the transparency of license holders’ ownership and the financing sources of broadcasters. Finally, TI-Georgia argues that the must-carry and must-offer obligations should not be restricted to the pre-election period, but should be maintained during and after the elections.

More information is available on TI-Georgia’s website. The picture featured above is from www.metro.co.uk.

 

Basel Institute on Governance Applies New Framework to Assess Governance and Corruption Risks

Researchers at the Basel Institute on Governance have been working on developing and applying a new analytical framework to assess governance and corruption risks within the public administration. With a focus on the health sector, the research project ‘Governance of Health Systems’, conducted jointly with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, aims to contribute to the study of governance, especially in low-income countries, and to propose improved governance-enhancing interventions in health services.

An interesting feature of their approach is the mapping of both formal and informal institutions, actors and networks. Similarly to the theoretical orientation followed by ERCAS on its research activities, their analysis emphasises the need to understand how the interplay of formal and informal norms affects a country’s or a particular sector’s governance regime, in order to be able to effectively address identified weaknesses.

Therefore, the proposed methodology draws from both political economy and sociology research and incorporates political power and influence analysis to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the motivations and incentives underpinning the actions of major stakeholders in the health sector. The framework is described in detail in the Basel Institute on Governance Working Paper “A Framework to Assess Governance of Health Systems in Low Income Countries” (No.11/July 2011), by Claudia Baez-Camargo, the project’s lead researcher.

In a more recent paper also authored by Ms. Baez-Camargo and published in July 2012 as a brief by the U4 Anti-Corruption Research Centre, the framework is applied to the case of the pharmaceutical supply chain in Uganda. The paper brief, entitled “Using power and influence analysis to address corruption risks: The case of the Ugandan drug supply chain”, discusses how power and influence analysis was used to assess corruption vulnerabilities in the Ugandan health sector, concentrating on inefficiencies in the distribution of drugs and medical supplies. The study identified powerful stakeholders and informal political networks and relationships that have great relevance for the design and implementation of anti-corruption efforts in Uganda. It concludes that interventions aimed at reducing corruption risks in the health sector need to take into account the prevalence of a vast network of patronage relationships across the country.

This study shows how the analytical framework proposed by researchers at the institute can offer empirical applicability to address specific policy problems emerging from a mismatch between formal and informal institutions, by shedding light on political constraints that are sometimes neglected in the design of governance-enhancing interventions.

 

U4 Paper Series Examines Corruption Indices

The U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, operated by the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Bergen, Norway, has recently published the first of a series of short reports analysing the strengths and weaknesses of selected corruption indices and surveys. The objective of the series is to provide practitioners in the anti-corruption field with guidance on why, when, and how to use such indicators as reference for their work.

The first paper released, written by CMI researcher Jesper Johnsøn and Transparency International’s Senior Research Coordinator Deborah Hardoon in an interview format, assesses the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), the largest cross-country survey to collect the general public’s perceptions and experiences of corruption. The GCB is conducted annually by Transparency International since 2003, and in the 2010/2011 round interviewed more than 100,000 people in 100 countries.

According to Ms. Hardoon, one of the main strengths of the GCB, in contrast to other established country-level corruption indices based on expert assessments and businesspeople’s perceptions, is the fact that it reveals general citizens’ views on the state of corruption as it directly affects them. Respondents are asked about their perception of corruption and experience with bribery in different state institutions and services, and their views on the government’s efforts on fighting corruption. They are also asked about their attitudes toward corruption, and their readiness to stand up to it. Moreover, the data gathered by the survey includes information on the demographic profile of respondents, thereby allowing for a detailed analysis of corruption patterns in different contexts and social groups within a single country.

Despite these advantages, this resource is, like many other surveys, not without pitfalls. Difficulties to reach out to rural populations, for instance, reduce the representativeness of samples with respondents more concentrated in urban areas in some countries. A certain level of bias in respondents’ answers can also be expected in countries where political and civil freedoms are curtailed.

Mr. Johnsøn also highlights that the sample size of about 1,000 respondents per country is at times too small to offer a reliable diagnosis of corruption at the disaggregated level of specific government services. When the data collected is reduced to the universe of individuals who have actually had contact with each specific service, for instance, it is often the case that the number of respondents is below 10% of the total country sample. Additionally, although the GCB may offer a good general picture of petty corruption in a country, other types of corruption such as nepotism, procurement fraud and embezzlement are not captured.

In terms of the potential contributions of the GCB to evidence-based policy formulation, Ms. Hardoon stresses that it is a useful tool to support advocacy work by local NGOs engaged in the fight against corruption, as it is also more difficult for politicians to dismiss data from a national public opinion survey. It can also help to identify sectors in the public administration that are particularly vulnerable to corruption and thereby help to tailor more targeted interventions.

As an evaluation tool for specific anti-corruption programmes, however, the GCB is not the most appropriate resource. The impact of anti-corruption efforts can only be captured at a very general level, thus it should be complemented by other more detailed tools at the national level.

More details on the assessment are available in the paper “Why, when and how to use the Global Corruption Barometer” on u4.no.

 

TI Releases New Study on Corruption Risks in Eastern European Countries

A new report released by Transparency International (TI) examines the main corruption risks in four Eastern European countries, namely Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. According to the study, reforms to strengthen democratic institutions and the anti-corruption legal framework in these countries, undertaken largely as part of their accession process to the European Union, have not been successful in minimising corruption risks, and the danger of political influence over fundamental control institutions remains.

The report points out that some of the institutions resulting from those reforms have in fact been weakened or entirely abandoned by dominant political actors after the accession. According to Miklos Marschall, Deputy Managing Director at Transparency International, “the laws and institutions against corruption in the Visegrad region will remain empty shells without a meaningful commitment to transparency. Most important is that high level public servants and politicians declare their assets and interests, public institutions must be independent from influence and there needs to be better checks on party financing”.

TI’s new report, based on national surveys assessing the strength of the anti-corruption frameworks of these four countries, captures some important similarities and differences in the region. Among the common risks identified in the study are weaknesses in party financing regulation and vulnerabilities related to corruption in the business sector. Nevertheless, some of the positive aspects raised are related to the relative independence and leeway of civil society and media and the importance of investigative journalists and bloggers in exposing corruption in these countries.

For more detailed information on the report, please read the press release “Post-communist institutions failing to stop corruption in Visegrad countries” on transparency.org.

 

University of Nottingham Conducts Research Project on Integrity Management Reform

The University of Nottingham, one of ERCAS’s partners in the EU-financed project ANTICORRP, is currently involved in another research project in partnership with the City University of Hong Kong, with the objective of examining and comparing recent reforms in the integrity management framework in place in public services in the United Kingdom (UK), China and Hong Kong. The project, entitled “Re-designing the Integrity Management Framework in the British, Chinese and Hong Kong Public Services”, is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.

The project started in October 2011 and will run for two years. Its main motivation is the fact that, over the past two decades, there has been considerable change in integrity regulations in the three jurisdictions studied in the project. The changing forms and characteristics of corruption have led these three governments to re-assess the effectiveness of existing rules and regulations governing integrity management and to undertake reforms to better capture new forms of conflict of interest and other integrity issues.

The research thus aims to provide a comparative analysis of how the integrity management framework in the UK, China and Hong Kong has been re-designed. It focuses on why reforms have come about, how they have been implemented, what difficulties they have encountered or given rise to, and to what extent they can provide an effective approach to ensuring integrity in the public sector. The research also looks at mutual dependencies between regulators and the regulated, the relationship among integrity management agencies, and the interplay between global drivers and national-level initiatives.

Prof. Paul Heywood is the principal investigator in the project. As part of the project’s activities, the University of Nottingham hosted a Workshop on June 21, with presentations on papers by Paul Heywood, Jonathan Rose, Ian Scott, Ting Gong, Marija Zurnic, and Marko Trajkovic.

 

ERCAS Director and Senior Fellow Present Research at IPSA Conference

Research work conducted at ERCAS was recently presented at the XXIInd World Congress of Political Science, held in Madrid on July 8-12 and organised by the International Political Science Association (IPSA). ERCAS Director Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and senior fellow Aare Kasemets participated in the panel “Corruption and Democratic Governance: New Approaches, New Evidence”, as part of the session on Comparative Politics and Political Institutions.

Prof. Mungiu-Pippidi presented the paper “Contextual Choices in Fighting Corruption: a Framework and Some Evidence”, in which she continues her line of research emphasising corruption as a collective action problem in contrast to the principal-agent framework of analysis present in large part of the literature on corruption. Moreover, she turns the focus away from causes of corruption to the question of why some countries evolve to ethical universalism and integrity as main governance norms, while the majority does not.

By using quantitative and qualitative approaches to improve the understanding on transitions to good governance, she finds that prominent anti-corruption ‘remedies’ promoted in the last years by international organisations and donors, such as the adoption of anti-corruption agencies, show no significant impact in contributing to improve control of corruption at the national level. In a comparison of nine countries considered as achievers, she applies an ‘equilibrium model’ with four dimensions that contribute to explain developments in control of corruption, and points out that these countries’ transitions involved significant change in at least three of the four dimensions presented, but specific paths taken by each countries vary considerably. Prof. Mungiu-Pippidi thus argues in favor of a new generation of anti-corruption programmes tailored to the specific political dynamics of each country.

As a complement to her analysis, senior fellow Aare Kasemets presented the paper “The Long Transition to Good Governance: the Case of Estonia”, where he examines the country’s remarkable transition from a totalitarian regime to good governance in the past two decades. According to Mr. Kasemets’s research, Estonia illustrates a case of a ‘big bang’ transformation, with simultaneous reforms in all four dimensions of the model discussed by Prof. Mungiu-Pippidi. Mr. Kasemets shows detailed evidence of these developments and highlights as main drivers of change Estonia’s external environment, windows of opportunity in the internal policy sphere and the readiness of Estonian political elites to promote important reforms. In addition to that, the author explores an integrative understanding of how to improve control of political and administrative corruption via better regulation measures, and emphasises the need for interdisciplinary research to better connect the equilibrium model of control of corruption to the challenges of regulatory governance.

New Report Launched on Corruption in the Health Sector in Vietnam

The organization Towards Transparency, Transparency International’s national contact in Vietnam, has released a report about informal payments in the health sector in the country. The study investigates the causes, perceptions and impact of such payments on health services, and raises potential solutions to the problem.

According to the report, these payments are very common in Vietnam and occur not only in the form of bribes, but also as tokens of gratitude for medical treatment. Informal payments are also strongly influenced by a culture where citizens feel that such payments are necessary to guarantee them adequate health care, even if medical personnel does not openly ask for extra fees.

From the perspective of health care professionals, these payments are perceived as opportunities to improve their meager income, as salaries in the health sector are commonly very low in the country. Testimonies by doctors reveal that they feel compelled to accept informal payments due to financial needs.

The report was presented in June at a workshop at the Research and Training Centre for Community Development (RTCCD), where health managers, medical staff, and representatives of civil society and government discussed the findings of the study. Their conclusions corresponded to the key drivers of informal payments pointed out in the report: low salaries, over-crowding of public hospitals, pressure on hospitals to have financial autonomy as a result of the introduction of market-based management mechanisms in hospital management, inconsistent professional ethics of medical staff and managers, and low levels of awareness of patients about the legitimacy of fees and available complaints mechanisms.

During the workshop, possible solutions to the problems were also discussed among participants. Participants stressed that solutions to this issue will have to address the multiple causes of the problem in order to be effective. Some of the suggested policies raised were measures to improve patients’ awareness about their rights and official fee rates, increase accessibility and effectiveness of complaints mechanism, introduce and enforce codes of ethics, improve oversight by elected bodies and independent monitoring mechanisms, and develop pilot “no-envelope” programs in selected hospitals.

For more details, read the article “Vietnam: Who pays the doctor?” on blog.transparency.org. The picture shown above is also featured in the article. A summary in English of the report “Towards a Transparent and Quality Healthcare System” is available online.

Handbook on Freedom of Information in South Caucasus Launched

Transparency International’s chapters in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia have published together the report entitled “Handbook on the Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus Countries”. The study was produced as part of the regional research project “Freedom of Information in the South Caucasus”, financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

The report found that, although all three countries have overall made significant progress toward formally guaranteeing freedom of information to its citizens, some gaps in the implementation of FOI legislation remain. With regards to the oversight mechanisms, for instance, the study points out that only Azerbaijan has established an independent body to monitor compliance to the respective laws, but its effectiveness is questioned.

The study also reports results of a survey that examined the degree of awareness and knowledge among the population about their fundamental right to know. The majority of Azerbaijanis and Georgians declared that they would not exercise their right of freedom to information in order to access public information related to the officials’ salary, public procurement, party financing, defense, education and not even private ownership, whereas in Armenia willingness to actively make use of access to information rights was higher, reaching 71%.

The making of the report included additionally a test of different public agencies in performing their duty to provide requested information under the relevant laws. The handbook also provides a detailed compilation of international and national standards relevant for South Caucasus region on freedom of information, thus offering a primary source for research to anyone interested in the right to access to information in the region.

More information is available on transparency.ge. The detailed results of the survey – Caucasus Barometer 2011 – can be accessed on the website of the Caucasus Research Resource Centers.

New Report Published on Anti-Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Bulgaria has published the report “Countering Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2001 – 2011”, which was presented to policy makers and stakeholders in Sarajevo at an anti-corruption policy forum on June 12, 2012. The forum is part of an effort by the European Union to empower the civil society in the country in its fight against corruption through exchange of experience with similar organizations in the region.

The report provides an overview of the state and dynamics of corruption and anti-corruption developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the aforementioned period. It builds on the local insight of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo and CSD’s 15 years of experience with regards to monitoring corruption and anti-corruption trends in Bulgaria. The findings are based on the Corruption Monitoring System (CMS), a state-of-the-art tool developed by CSD for monitoring the dynamics of corruption at the national level. This methodology measures not only attitudes and perceptions of corruption, but also actual experiences (i.e. victimization) of citizens. At the forum, CSD’s Program Director Mr. Ruslan Stefanov highlighted that CSD and CIN complemented each other’s efforts as CMS captures the administrative corruption while investigative reporting helps catch political (large scale) corruption.

According to the report’s findings, during the past 10 years corruption pressure in Bosnia and Herzegovina has increased, while the actual participation of citizens in corrupt activities has subsided. It is, however, worrying that despite their reduced encounters with corruption, citizens perceive the phenomenon as ever more widespread and their trust in state institutions to fight corruption is fading. According to Mr. Stefanov, while eradicating corruption is a historically slow process, it is of paramount importance that the justice system restores citizens’ trust in the institution through punishing corruption at the highest level.

Additional information on the Anti-Corruption Policy Forum can be found at csd.bg.

ERCAS Launched at Hertie School of Governance

The Hertie School of Governance has recently founded the European Research Center for Anti-corruption and State-building (ERCAS). The center, whose director is Hertie School’s Professor of Democracy Studies Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, aims at conducting and promoting research on state-building and anti-corruption policies with an interdisciplinary approach focused on the relationship between state and society, formal and informal institutions, collective action and transitions between governance regimes.

One of the motivations for the creation of the Center was Hertie School’s participation in the new project ANTICORRP, a large-scale research initiative which has received the largest funding ever granted by the European Commission in the Social Sciences under the Framework Programs for Research and Technological Development. ANTICORRP offered the opportunity to develop an institutional structure in which the topics addressed in ANTICORRP can be explored not only by researchers directly involved in the project, but also by students, PhD candidates and visiting research fellows, thereby contributing to strengthen Hertie School’s engagement in this research area and also to stimulate further research on related topics by young researchers.

As part of the effort to create this new center, the Hertie School sought the input of excellent researchers from different fields of expertise. For this reason, the Center’s advisory board was composed by a group of internationally renowned scholars, such as Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama and Robert Klitgaard, among others who have made indispensable contributions to areas associated with the research developed by the center.

Moreover, the center works in partnership with the Romanian Academic Society (SAR) to promote and study collective action initiatives to curb corruption in several countries. Promoting collective action as a means of fighting corruption at the national level is part of ERCAS’s objectives and, in collaboration with SAR, the center offers analytical tools to help civil society activists, journalists and other stakeholders to develop better strategies to reduce corruption in their countries.

In the next fall, ERCAS will host its first international event, when ANTICORRP consortium members participating in three work packages of the project will gather to present the latest developments of their research activities. The workshop will take place on October 19th-21st. This occasion will include an official launching event of the center, with the participation of international scholars and students. More detailed information on the event will be made available on againstcorruption.eu in the months to follow.

ANTICORRP Kick-off Meeting in Gothenburg

The first consortium meeting of ANTICORRP took place on May 20th-22nd in Gothenburg, Sweden, hosted by the project’s coordinating organization, the Quality of Government Institute at University of Gothenburg. The event gathered representatives of all 21 consortium partners and marked the official beginning of the research activities foreseen in the five-year project, which is financed by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7).

The first day of the event began with the keynote speech by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, professor of Democratization at the Hertie School of Governance and coordinator of the institution’s participation in the project. In her presentation, she highlighted the central questions that the project addresses with regards to the understanding of corruption and the elaboration of more effective anti-corruption policies. She also discussed the social and policy relevance of the project’s contributions to the European context and to the donor community in general.

The opening session was followed by a meeting of the project’s Steering Committee, composed by representatives of the largest consortium partners, who are responsible for establishing guidelines for the work of all project members and monitoring the compliance of the work conducted by partners in relation to the consortium’s commitment to the funding organization.

The specific activities of each of the project’s 13 work packages were the focus of the second and third days of the meeting. The consortium members participating in each work package met in parallel to discuss conceptual and methodological points related to their activities and organizational issues to how they will be conducted and coordinated among the collaborating institutions. Additionally, the activities envisioned as part of the work package for dissemination, led by Transparency International, were presented to all participants and synergy opportunities with dissemination platforms already developed and maintained by other consortium partners were discussed.

The project’s next large event will be an international workshop to take place in late October at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, where participants of three work packages will gather to present their latest research developments within the scope of ANTICORRP and establish the next steps to be taken for the duration of the project. The presentations will be open to the participation of students and international scholars.

More detailed information about ANTICORRP and its objectives can be found in other sections of againstcorruption.eu.