Rule of Law

Some countries really are more corrupt than others

According to this fantastic commentary on corruption by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi for Foreign Policy, “the rule of law and control of corruption are nearly synonymous“. Without rule of law, she says, attempts to reign in corruption through legal mechanisms will only be captured by the corrupt system in place. The way forward? The defeat of corruption, she says, is not achieved “by importing legal silver bullets from abroad,” it is a political process enabled “through a mix of policies advanced by domestic advocates”. Read on!

Highlights from a commentary by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi discussing the successful strategies of countries that have curbed the menace of corruption.

First of all, institutions are not the answer, says Mungiu-Pippidi: “… many corrupt countries can today boast of tough anti-corruption legislation, but it rarely seems to be doing much good.” What has worked?  A “reduction in opportunities for rent-seeking (less red tape or barriers to trade, more fiscal transparency) combined with effective public scrutiny and collective action to sanction corrupt behavior.” The kicker: “Without active citizens, free journalists, and independent judges, control of corruption is impossible.”

But it is “entirely possible,” she says, “to quantify just how successful a particular country has been when it comes to controlling corruption” through the measure of six components: freedom of the press, digital empowerment of citizens, independence of the judiciary, red tape, fiscal transparency, and trade openness.

By Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, published by Foreign Policy on May 24, 2016

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi is a professor of policy analysis and democracy at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

The best approach for international donors is to help local coalitions for integrity in corrupt countries reach the point where corrupt leaders find themselves compelled to leave power — and where those who succeed them find it impossible to repeat their predecessors’ bad behavior.

One can meaningfully talk about corruption as an aberration from normal government — as something that can be controlled through legal mechanisms — only when the state is largely independent from private interests. Such states, where the rule of law predominates, exist in imperfect form in only about fifty countries.

In the rest, corruption is not abnormal. It is a form of governance in its own right — one in which public budgets, banks, and law enforcement are controlled by ruling elites who openly flaunt lavish houses, cars, and incomes worth far more than their declared earnings. In such countries, the privileged do not have to go to some exotic island to hide their money. While visiting Crimea in 2004, I saw an actual castle a local Communist party leader had built for himself in the yard of a gas station he had managed to privatize. Systemically corrupt countries have their very own Virgin Islands within their own borders.

Continue reading at the publisher’s website here



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