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.