In this 2011 file photo, a billboard is shown on the Rue Belliard in the European district of Brussels THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Maria Sanchez-Marin
This post originally appeared on the Thomson Reuters TrustLaw blog.
The European Union (EU) is taking a hard look at corruption in its midst, having recently published its first-ever corruption monitoring report. The results are striking: the estimated cost of corruption in the EU’s 28 member states equals €120 billion, a figure nearing the EU’s annual budget.
A sense of corruption problems in Europe has been pervasive in the news. In Spain, Princess Cristina and her husband have been embroiled in a case centered on the alleged embezzlement of €6 million in public funds. In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Petr Necas resigned after a scandal involving illegal surveillance andgraft. He has been recently charged with bribery for offering state posts to former opposition members in return for them leaving office. In Italy, former premier Silvio Berlusconi is back in court (again) on charges of giving a €3million bribe to an opposition politician to switch sides. And the Romanian Parliament voted to exempt top politicians from corruption liability.
Corruption is one of the biggest challenges facing the developing world: it has a corrosive effect on democratic governance, undermines public trust, and wastes scarce resources. Crucially, corruption also represents a destructive tax on the private sector that hampers economic growth and development prospects.
A new paper by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Project on Prosperity and Development, The Costs of Corruption: Strategies for Ending a Tax on Private-sector Growth, estimates that narrowly-defined private sector corruption in 105 developing countries amounts to over $500 billion, 3.7 times the amount of official development assistance in 2011. While businesses are often blamed for corruption, and in particular bribery, the paper recognizes that corruption has both supply and demand sides, and that while businesses may contribute to corruption, they are also victims of it. As such, business must be a part of successful solutions to the corruption problem.
This is the point that CIPE constantly emphasizes – and applies – in its work around the world. In fact, the report cites numerous examples of CIPE’s successful anti-corruption programs, including collective action among leading companies in Thailand, legal reforms to guarantee disclosure of procurement contracts in Egypt, work on corporate governance and SME policy advocacy in Russia, improving public procurement transparency and governance in Kosovo, streamlining Armenia’s tax code, and strengthening property rights and supporting legal institutions in Kenya.
Women are essential to peaceful, democratic development of their societies. As the UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka noted in a recent speech on the role of Syrian women in the peace process, ”By including the perspectives of half the population, the path is paved for a society built on the principles of inclusion and justice.” In recent years, that fact has become more widely recognized, with many new local and international institutions and initiatives aimed at helping women achieve their full potential and participate on equal footing in the political, economic, and civic lives of their countries.
I was happy to see that Georgetown University, my alma mater, took active leadership in elevating the discussion and research on the importance of women for a more stable, peaceful and just world through the creation of the Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS). The establishment of the Institute was announced by Georgetown’s President John J. DeGioia and then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Georgetown on December 19, 2011 when the Secretary unveiled the United States’ National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
Posted in Global
Tagged peace, women
Anti-corruption compliance has become one of the key issues that companies around the world need to tackle, especially if their business involves extensive cross-border value chains.
The responsibility for designing and overseeing a compliance program, at least in larger companies, lies with an ethics and compliance officer or department. That’s not an easy job. Robust compliance requires sufficient resources; a communication strategy – both internal and external – to convey company values, policies, and procedures; a level of trust among employees to voice concerns and flag violations; and above all, a clear commitment from the board and top management.
Not surprisingly, in many companies at least some of the elements necessary for sound compliance need more attention and remain on a compliance officer’s wish list. In a recent blog, Michael Scher, who has over three decades of experience as a senior compliance officer and attorney and work for major companies in New York and the Middle East, shares several such items. Based on 2013 trends Scher complied 10 areas where more needs to be done, which can be summarized in the following categories:
A recent CEO study on sustainability conducted by the UN Global Compact and Accenture – the third one of its kind – reached out to more than 1,000 executives from 27 industries in 103 countries around the world, asking for their views on the past, present and future of sustainable business. This largest-ever CEO study on sustainability offered a mixed picture of global movement in the positive direction juxtaposed with the frustration over slow progress.
In the previous edition of this study, conducted in 2010, CEOs were optimistic that sustainability – understood as the active management of social, environmental, and governance issues as a part of core business – would soon become a norm embedded into operations of companies worldwide, with leadership on sustainability incentivized and rewarded. In 2013, 63 percent of CEOs still expect sustainability to transform their industry within five years and 76 percent believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth and new opportunities. However, the predominant feeling is that global business efforts on sustainability may have plateaued, and despite deeper awareness and commitment levels many business leaders deem the pace of change and the scale of impact insufficient.
(Photo: WFP/Praveen Agrawal)
This article originally appeared on the TrustLaw blog.
Natural disasters affect millions of lives each year and bring humanity together around a common goal of helping the victims and supporting reconstruction. The Asian tsunami of 2004, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, or the deadly foods in Pakistan later that year are just a few examples of tragic events that triggered the outpouring of donations to relief efforts. Yet, all too often this well-intended generosity fails to translate into commensurate results on the ground.
One reason is the sheer volume of aid that tends to overwhelm the absorptive capacity of governments, aid agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Another key reason is corruption caused by the urgency to disburse aid that often leads to dangerous corner cutting when it comes to controls on spending and accountability.
The need to tackle corruption in disaster aid has been brought into focus again by the destruction wrecked by typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is known in the Philippines. In response, so far nearly 18 billion pesos ($414 million) in cash and relief goods have been pledged. The challenge of administering this magnitude of aid creates considerable corruption risks.
As we celebrate the Global Entrepreneurship Week, we are reminded time and again that making entrepreneurship work takes an entire ecosystem of supporting factors. CIPE’s recent report, “Creating the Environment for Entrepreneurial Success,” highlighted the complexities involved and focused on many elements needed for entrepreneurs to succeed. Property rights and institutions that create healthy property markets are among such crucial elements of building vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystems.
Property rights are key building blocks of modern market economies. They are also a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 17 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that:
- (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
- (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
These simple statements seem self-evident. Yet, it takes a multitude of intertwined and interacting laws, rules, and institutions to ensure that property rights are accessible to all members of the society and adequately protected so that they can become equal stakeholders in their country’s future.
The International Property Markets Scorecard, a tool jointly developed by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the International Real Property Foundation (IRPF), takes such a holistic view of property rights in their broader context. The Scorecard maps the institutional components of property markets and evaluates their effectiveness, providing a methodology to investigate the six core elements necessary for sustainable property market development:
- property rights laws and enforcement,
- access to credit,
- efficiency of governance,
- rational dispute resolution,
- financial transparency,
- appropriate regulations.
The Scorecard is a tool for in-country reformers, international policy advisors, and market analysts as it provides comprehensive snapshots of market conditions, identifying key areas for reform as well as market risks. CIPE and IRPF have been using this methodology to conduct research and support local partners’ advocacy efforts over the last few years in countries ranging from Armenia to the Philippines. Today we finally brought all the findings together under the newly launched International Property Markets Scorecard website, www.propertymarketsscorecard.com.