Author Archives: Norah Mallaney

The Global Integrity Impact Challenge

This is another one in a series of guest blogs by Global Integrity’s Norah Mallaney.

The Global Integrity Impact Challenge is seeking proposals for projects that use Global Integrity’s diagnostic tools to fight corruption. The best proposals get a US$1,000 prize and a chance to pitch the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) for funding to implement their ideas.

This year, Global Integrity released our 3rd annual assessment of anti-corruption and good governance trends around the world. The Global Integrity Report: 2008 highlights the strengths and weaknesses of government accountability mechanisms in specific country contexts. Now that the data has been gathered: how can this information be used to address these governance gaps?

To answer this question, the Global Integrity Challenge will offer cash prizes to groups that use the Report’s Integrity Indicators to develop projects that fight corruption. We’re looking to promote direct linkages between the problem of corruption, Global Integrity’s diagnostic tools, [your proposed project here] and measurable change on the ground. For more information on the types of proposals we’re accepting and the application process, please see http://tinyurl.com/impactlink

The application deadline is April 5th, 2009.

A jury will review the proposals and select six to ten finalists. An online public vote will select three winners. Each winner will receive a US $1,000 prize as well as an introduction to the Partnership for Transparency Fund, an organization that provides grants to groups working on corruption issues.

You can learn more about the Impact Challenge at http://tinyurl.com/impactlink. We look forward to receiving your entries!

The State of Corruption in China

In a preview from the Global Integrity Report: 2008, to be published Feb. 18th, Global Integrity’s Xiao Chi An reports on the corrosive effect of systemic corruption in China. As the government tries to cope with an economic downturn and fall in exports, corruption is eroding stability from within and creating nostalgia for harsher times.

“I have good news,” Fan Xiaoli told her brother, Fan Dayi, on the phone one day in August 2008 (the family’s names have been changed). “I’ve finally found someone who can help us to send Yuanyuan to the school.”

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They were talking about how to get Yuanyuan, Fan Xiaoli’s daughter, into a prestigious junior high school in Guangzhou. When test results were released in mid-July, Yuanyuan did not do well enough to meet the school’s entrance requirements. Xiaoli was as disappointed as her daughter. She then decided, as many Chinese people in the same situation do, to try to find someone who could help. Through a colleague, she got to know a Mr. Yang, who claimed to know “some decision-maker in government” and said he could help get the girl admitted to the school if Xiaoli paid him 70,000 yuan (US$10,257). “I know it is corruption,” Xiaoli said, “but it works and everybody is willing to do it if they can afford the money.” She paid the money and by mid-August, Yuanyuan got an offer from the school.

“It is not so bad a deal for my sister because she wants her daughter to go to the school and she can afford the money,” Fan Dayi said, “but it is sad for the people in this country. There is too much corruption. Nominally, we have all kinds of laws, regulations and responsible officials, but in reality, only money and guangxi (nepotism or relations) work when people want something done in this society.”

Longing for a Harsher Time

Fan Dayi’s view probably reflects that of many common people in China. From the outside, China has seen impressive economic growth and prosperity in the last three decades. But for ordinary people, especially those who live in rural counties or are members of the urban lower class, life is another story — one of rising inequality, poverty, a tattered social safety net, abuse of power and, above all, widespread corruption.

“I am sure that China is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. There is only one solution to the problem: to execute those corrupt officials,” said Li Yao, a 45-year-old man from Shanxi province with a high school diploma who works in Guangzhou as a librarian. “Ethics were destroyed by commercial and business forces. I wish we were under the leadership of Mao Zedong. Politics were very clean during his time.”

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Hollowed-Out Democracy: Russian-backed Election Monitors Say It’s All Good In Belarus

This is the second in a series of guest blogs by Global Integrity’s Norah Mallaney. The first one is available here.

For election monitoring in Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) provides the fairest assessment, at least in the eyes of the West, as they chronicle the many flaws in Eastern European elections. But the former-Soviet bloc does its own election monitoring, and their results… well, they can’t seem to find any problems at all.

The OSCE analysis of elections in post-Soviet nations have continually conflicted with the results of monitoring by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Moscow-based confederation of former Soviet states. While the CIS was created as an upstart alternative to the USSR, the Commonwealth and its member states still operate in the shadow of the Kremlin, placing doubt on the “independence” that the organization’s title suggests. clip_image001

As part of an ongoing series on the influence of the Kremlin, a New York Times reporter followed an election monitor from this organization of post-Soviet states; an experience that confirmed the illegitimacy of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ assessment.

The election monitor profiled in the story is a political figure from Tajikistan, sent to Belarus for the September 2008 elections. According to the New York Times, he went from polling station to polling station asking questions like: “Everything’s OK here?” or “Issues? Violations?” with the tone of “a casual sightseer.” Despite his role in their September elections, he admitted a lack of knowledge of Belorussian politics. Even so, this election observer and his umbrella organization pronounced the elections in Belarus “fair and democratic” without mentioning any of the concerns discussed in the OSCE analysis.

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Oxfam: Combating Corruption from the Bottom Up

This is the first in a series of guest blog posts from our partners from Global Integrity.

In an ongoing series called “Speaking Out,” Oxfam is taking a look at the ability of poor citizens to actively use their voice to enact change.

“Speaking Out” is essentially a series of papers, each highlighting a different sphere of grassroots activism. One of the papers published last month, entitled Tackling Corruption: Lessons from Oxfam’s Work, is dedicated to corruption and localized citizen efforts to combat the many forms that corruption can take.

Oxfam is primarily known for its fight against global poverty. Making use of its network of local partner organizations, Oxfam has collected information on corruption through informal surveys in nations where they already have a presence. Oxfam describes its approach to corruption as “indirect.” Similarly to Global Integrity’s approach of measuring the opposite of corruption, Oxfam focuses mainly on issues of accountability and the fair delivery of goods and services to citizens.

As suggested in A Users’ Guide to Measuring Corruption,

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