Transparency & Integrity

Why is corruption so hard to fight?

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We, the One Young World Ambassadors, pledge to take personal responsibility for educating children, communities and corporations about the damaging effects of corruption and the need for transparency.

Ambassadors believe that corruption cannot be fought without transparency and this Session will explore an aspect of corruption which is common to both the developed and developing world: the relationship between business and government. Delegates will discuss the responsibility of government to be open about the influences businesses have on policymaking and the ways in which businesses might adopt more honest practices. Delegates will investigate which elements of transparent business corporations most urgently need to strive to improve, and they will explore the link between ethical business and fighting corruption.

The Summit will discuss the positive impact transparency can have on public perception and the value of a company and will explore ways in which transparency can be linked to a sustainable future. The use of social media in highlighting dishonest or unjust elements in business will be analysed to illustrate the demand for transparency amongst the young.

62% of Ambassadors believe corruption is widespread in their country
50% of Ambassadors consider the most important area of corruption that needs to be addressed to be that of state or government
69% of Ambassadors are extremely or very concerned about the relationship between business and government

*statistics taken from the One Young World 2012 Plenary Consultation

Delegate Speakers

Anita Chan      USA
Catherine Kipsang     Kenya
Deborah Vera-Cruz    Cape Verde
George Makkoulis      Cyprus
Mary Anne Robles     Philippines  & Oyewole Akande    Nigeria
Matthew Fitzpatrick     Australia

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Corruption Overview

What is Corruption?

Poverty. Inequality. Broken Public services. Politicians who serve themselves. Business owners who abuse their power. From India to Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring – all over the world people are taking to the streets. Whilst their grievances are particular to each country, there remains a common thread throughout - Corruption. Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority. Corruption holds back economic development, prevents a free market operating for businesses and consumers, and further exploits already marginalised groups. For statistics, true stories and more information click on this link:

How corruption affects a particular topic?


Sport is a multi-billion dollar business. It has intricate ties to political and private interests. This means rich opportunities for corruption. Yet across the sporting sector, most deals and decisions take place behind closed doors. This allows corruption to go unchecked and unpunished.


Education is a fundamental human right and a major driver of human and economic development. It strengthens personal integrity and shapes the societies in which we live. Since education typically comprises 20-30 per cent of a country’s budget, it is critically prone to corruption, from national education ministries to local schools and universities.

Humanitarian Assistance:

Corruption in humanitarian work is among the worst kind. It can mean the difference between life and death. It robs people of essential resources, destroying dignity and causing desperation. Emergency assistance pumps large amounts of money and goods into damaged economies. The risk of corruption is acute. Aid often flows through new, unmonitored channels. It faces the chaos of conflicts or natural disasters. So it’s extremely hard to track where aid goes.

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Specific aspects

Why is bribery a problem?

Bribery is no victimless crime: it can lead to poverty and human suffering. Bribery, particularly the bribery of foreign public officials by multinational companies, is prevalent in many developing countries.

Bribery undermines the rule of law and the principle of fair competition and entrenches bad governance in such countries, hindering their efforts to alleviate poverty and often contributing to instability and human rights abuses. In addition, the reinforcement of poor governance in aid-recipient countries undermines the impact of UK aid and taxpayers' value for money.

Bribery can lead directly to human suffering and death, for example where it results in government contracts being awarded to companies that perform substandard construction work or provide substandard goods and services in the health sector. Bribery of foreign officials can help to entrench corrupt elites by providing the incentive and the means to maintain a tight grip on power, particularly in natural resource rich states where the stakes and potential rewards are higher.

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Corruption in UK politics

Historically, the UK’s parliament has had a high international reputation, and the UK has been well placed on international corruption indices. However, politics in the UK has recently been plagued by corruption scandals and public trust in politicians is plunging. There have been too many scandals, often because of a lack of transparency and accountability.

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Humanitarian aid and transparency

Public information would seem like a pre-requisite if a government is to be managing billions in tax payers’ money. It would even appear more tantamount if this money was destined for the world’s poorest as development financing for schools, clinics, clean water and environmental projects.

Yet the world’s aid industry – which totalled nearly US$ 134 billion in 2011 in official flows – apparently doesn’t think so. According to an index released by Publish What You Fund, four out of every five aid agencies that were assessed scored 60 per cent or lower for their levels of transparency. This included whether or not they published their total aid budget, annual report and procurement policies.

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Phone hacking and corruption

As the phone hacking scandal escalates, more and more evidence is emerging highlighting undercurrents of corruption that are embedded in our media, police, and political institutions. The relationship between media ownership and the UK political establishment has come under particular scrutiny over the past few days.

Among the revelations that have emerged in recent weeks are:

  • A donation from a powerful media organisation to a sports club closely associated with an influential MP
  • The revolving door between executives from major media organisations and positions as political advisers
  • Bribery of police officers
  • A potential cover-up, or deliberate delaying of an investigation, within the police
  • The unwillingness of politicians to challenge an organisation that owns large sections of the media
  • The deliberate cosying up to powerful media figures by senior politicians
  • The willingness of a powerful media organisation to be less than honest with Parliament and the Press Complaints Commission
  • The enormous public concern about the approval of News International's attempt to take over BSkyB.

When you take all this together, a disturbing pattern emerges of the abuse of entrusted power, a lack of transparency and accountability and weak checks and balance.

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Bribery in Business

Hefty fines, damaged reputations and jail sentences – recent scandals prove that corruption in business doesn’t always bring profits. Yet bribery persists. Almost a fifth of executives surveyed by Ernst & Young claimed to have lost business to a competitor who paid bribes. More than a third felt corruption was getting worse.

Corruption distorts markets and creates unfair competition. Companies often pay bribes or rig bids to win public procurement contracts. Many companies hide corrupt acts behind secret subsidiaries and partnerships. Or they seek to influence political decision-making illicitly. Others exploit tax laws, construct cartels or abuse legal loopholes. Private companies have huge influence in many public spheres. These are often crucial – from energy to healthcare. So it’s easy to see how corruption in business harms taxpayers’ interests.

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True stories of those affected by corruption

Rwanda's economy was gradually recovering from the devastating impact of years of civil conflict when one mining cooperative discovered it had lost more than it thought.

In 2008, a change in Rwandan law meant the cooperative had to renew its certificate. This task fell to the group's president, who was an influential member of the community.

Yet members of the cooperative claim that the president forged the ownership documents and re-registered the mine under his own name. They appealed to local leaders, but the leaders sided with the president.

The cooperative then wrote to Rwanda's Public Prosecutor Authority to request an investigation. When months passed by without a response, they turned to Transparency International (TI) Rwanda, who drafted an appeal for expedience and forwarded it to the prosecutor general.

As a result, the case came to court, and in a stunning victory the cooperative's president was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and fined the equivalent of around US $3,400. Ownership of the mine was returned to the group, who are now working to increase its output for the benefit of the community.

TI Rwanda has since been approached with three more cases related to mine exploitation; encouraging evidence that demand for accountability is growing.

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Money laundering

Those who loot state funds through corruption or deprive their state of revenues through tax evasion need more than a bank: they need to hide their identity behind a corporate front. It is so easy to set up such a company that criminals, terrorists and corrupt politicians can easily move money around the world with impunity. Hidden company ownership facilitates state looting, denying the citizens of poor countries the chance to lift themselves out of poverty and leaving them dependent on aid.

Countries such as the UK might have a company registry and consider themselves ‘onshore’, but as long as they do not publish the names of the ultimate ‘beneficial’ owners of companies, they are effectively permitting companies to hide their true owners, making them as offshore as any palm-fringed island.

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