“Corruption was a taboo word in 1996. My advisors were worried about using the c-word in my speech.”
Nearly 20 years have passed since the former World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, gave his groundbreaking speech on the “cancer of corruption” at the World Bank’s 1996 Annual Meetings. And the anti-corruption movement has come a long way.
At the World Bank’s discussion Speak Up Against Corruption, which featured Wolfensohn; Dr. Jim Kim, World Bank Group President; Paul Volcker, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve; Cesar Purisima, Secretary Finance of the Philippines; and Haguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International, the panelists reflected on how much work there remains to fight corruption at the international and local levels.
Volcker emphasized how imperative it is for both developed and developing nations to focus on this evasive problem. “Corruption is not just about losing money in transactions…it’s also about destructing the rule of law of a society.”
Citing examples like the Open Government Partnership, which is a multilateral initiative in which over 60 countries have voluntarily committed to becoming more transparent governments, the panelists agreed that the global anti-corruption movement is moving in the right direction.
Labelle cautioned, however, that even though the global “awareness [about corruption] has been made, and we must now focus on the enforcement” of laws and closing implementation gaps. In order to achieve this, Kim called upon governments, citizens, and the private sector to work together because the government alone is not enough. Moreover, Purisima articulated that moving forward, tackling wide-spread corruption requires countries to build stronger institutions.
All of the panelists’ opinions reinforced the relevance and importance of CIPE’s anti-corruption programs. Whether in the form of collective action or building more balanced institutions, the work that CIPE is doing is essential to help move the global anti-corruption movement forward.
In another 20 years or so, when the international community comes together again to reflect on the global transparency movement, it will be exciting to examine how citizen engagement (with the assumption that social media will play an even larger role in the future) with the government and private sector has done to help lessen corruption around the world.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.