Foreign Policy Blogs

Corruption and Accountability

The Corruption Perceptions Index: spotlight on Morocco

This past Tuesday marked the annual release of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Transparency International’s opportunity to name and shame all over the world. This year, as in most years, there were few surprises: the index is actually designed to favor stability over dramatic changes in order not to unduly punish countries that experience an […]

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Ending poverty by reducing corruption

Last week the United Nations held a summit on the Millennium Development Goals. This is a set of venerable aims laid out in 2000 and intended to be accomplished by 2015. They include things like improving gender equality and ending extreme poverty. While some people indeed treat them as something to strive for, the goals […]

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Unsustainable development

Unsustainable development

Is there a tradeoff between economic development and environmental conservation? I have just returned from Vietnam, where it is easy to believe there is. Modern tourists to Vietnam are often lured by the lush green scenery and pastoral lifestyle. The sharp green hills and women tending rice fields in conical hats are there, but today […]

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The Achilles Heel

Corruption in the police force is commonplace in countries with high levels of petty bribery. In Georgia, the solution was to fire the entire traffic police force and rehire through objective procedures. In neighboring Armenia – where the government is either more gradualist or less committed, depending on your viewpoint – the Achilles project is […]

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The role of the media

As newspapers continue their steady financial decline and the press is criticized for everything from false news reports to jeopardizing national security, those of us who live in the comfort of a democracy may start to say, Who needs them? There are plenty of blogs to fill the gap, and as tech-savvy critical thinkers trained […]

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The power of new technology

There is a muted but ongoing debate about whether a country can be democratic and fight corruption at the same time (see Success stories). A related debate concerns economic development. Thus, can the undemocratic Chinese government achieve the economic growth it aspires to without increasing accountability? Some people hold up China’s stellar performance as evidence […]

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Wikileaks

In October 2008 I attended the International Anti-Corruption Conference. On a bus from the hotel to a reception, I sat next to someone named Julian Assange. At the time, I did not know who he was. He told me he worked for a group called Wikileaks, which was not a wiki but rather a website […]

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The most corrupt state (and I mean U.S.)

Every year Transparency International ranks nearly all countries in the world in its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In 2009 the United States ranked a respectable 19 out of 180. But within the United States there is considerable variation. Anyone who follows national news might make their own U.S. Corruption Perceptions Index, with the sheer size […]

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Handheld Anti-corruption

Mobile phones have already transformed life in developing countries. They have brought phone service to remote areas that had little hope of ever seeing landlines. They have also had major economic benefits for so-called micro-entrepreneurs, helping them with everything from establishing mobile barbershops to determining the best time to bring goods to market. And now […]

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Watchdogs

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the UN Development Program (UNDP)’s Civil Society Advisory Committee. The significance of this committee for UN accountability merits attention. The UN – and most donor countries, for that matter – spends a good deal of time preaching the importance of civil society. As the line goes, civil […]

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Is China really getting tough?

This week one of China’s former richest men, Huang Guangyu of Chinese appliance giant Gome Electronics, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for bribery and insider dealing. This follows rejection of the appeal of former Rio Tinto executives, who some believed had received unreasonably harsh sentences for bribing so-far unnamed government officials. Is China […]

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Bear-wrestling

Russia holds a unique place in the international economy. It isn’t the largest, fastest, strongest, or even scariest, but it is a heavyweight whose actions matter more than most. It ranked just 146 out of 180 countries on the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index, and had the 8th largest economy in the world in 2008 according […]

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The Third Wheel

As I write this, British voters are going to the polls in what has been billed as one of the most exciting UK elections of the post-war period. Nick Clegg, member of the third-party Liberal Democrats, could overtake his mainstream rivals Gordon Brown (Labour) and David Cameron (Conservative). Regardless of the outcome, this is the […]

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What to do with weak rule of law

In some countries, political will is not enough. This is because they don’t have the institutions to implement whatever anti-corruption political will there might be. Fighting corruption requires investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration in a prison with guards that can’t be paid off. Some countries lack some or all of these things. Guatemala poses an […]

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Corruption topples another government

Violent demonstrations led to the fall of President Bakiyev in Kyrgyzstan last week. The opposition has taken control of the country, including the president’s supposed stronghold in the south. This is, of course, the second time a popular uprising has led to a change of government in Kyrgyzstan in the last five years. Both times, […]

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