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Most of the world continues to fail in the fight against corruption
by Transparecy International, OHCHR, agencies
2:13pm 2nd Dec, 2022
Feb. 2023
Most of the world continues to fail to fight corruption, reports Transparecy International.
The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International shows that most of the world continues to fail to fight corruption: 95 per cent of countries have made little to no progress since 2017.
According to the Global Peace Index, the world continues to become a less peaceful place. There is a clear connection between this violence and corruption, with countries that score lowest in this index also scoring very low on the CPI.
Governments hampered by corruption lack the capacity to protect the people, while public discontent is more likely to turn into violence. This vicious cycle is impacting countries everywhere from South Sudan (13) to Brazil (38).
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International said:
“Corruption has made our world a more dangerous place. As governments have collectively failed to make progress against it, they fuel the current rise in violence and conflict – and endanger people everywhere. The only way out is for states to do the hard work, rooting out corruption at all levels to ensure governments work for all people, not just an elite few.”
Despite its well-documented negative effects, corruption is hard to eradicate, partly because not everyone is equally affected by it. While some parts of society – often the most vulnerable ones – suffer from inefficient or non-existent public services, other groups may benefit from the corrupt status quo through kickbacks, handouts, lucrative government contracts or privileged access to policy-makers.
When corruption is systemic, public resources are constantly diverted away from projects, policies and services that serve the common good and benefit the public at large to favour specific groups and interests instead.
Corruption thus creates conditions in which conflict is more likely to occur by fostering division between different groups and eating away at the rule of law.
It also fuels the kind of state capture that generates hostility among excluded groups, providing incentives for opposition factions to violently contest state resources and the regime to aggressively persecute opponents.
This is particularly dangerous when the resulting disparities coincide with ethnic, religious or other identity lines. Corruption, exclusion and outright discrimination thus increase the risk of violent outbreaks and make them harder to control once they erupt.
In addition, theft, embezzlement and mismanagement of public funds reduce the quantity of public resources available for redistribution and undermine the quality and availability of public services. This makes it harder to tackle poverty, hunger and inequality, while providing good healthcare and education. Corruption is thus widely recognised as a key obstacle to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
The CPI global average remains unchanged at 43 for the eleventh year in a row, and more than two-thirds of countries have a serious problem with corruption, scoring below 50.
Denmark (90) tops the index this year, with Finland and New Zealand following closely, both at 87. Strong democratic institutions and regard for human rights also make these countries some of the most peaceful in the world according to the Global Peace Index.
South Sudan (13), Syria (13) and Somalia (12), all of which are embroiled in protracted conflict, remain at the bottom of the CPI. 26 countries – among them the United Kingdom (73), Qatar (58) and Guatemala (24) – are all at historic lows this year.
Corruption, conflict and security are profoundly intertwined. The misuse, embezzlement or theft of public funds can deprive the very institutions in charge of protecting citizens, enforcing the rule of law and guarding the peace of the resources they need to fulfil that mandate.
Criminal groups are often aided by the complicity of corrupt public officials, law enforcement authorities, judges and politicians, which allows them to thrive and operate with impunity.
Even in countries with relatively strong measures against corruption, the defence sector often remains secretive – opening the door for undue influence and other forms of corruption. According to the Government Defence Integrity Index, only nine countries out of the 85 assessed have a low or a very low risk of corruption.
Transparency International calls on governments to prioritise anti-corruption commitments, reinforcing checks and balances, upholding rights to information and limiting private influence to finally rid the world of corruption – and the violence it brings.
Daniel Eriksson, Chief Executive Officer of Transparency International, said:
“The good news is that leaders can fight corruption and promote peace all at once. Governments must open up space to include the public in decision-making – from activists to marginalised communities to young people. In democratic societies, the people can raise their voices to help root out corruption and demand a safer world for us all.”
Dec. 2022
States should end reprisals against anti-corruption human rights defenders, Transparency International, agencies
As the world celebrates the International Anti-Corruption Day and the 24th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, we, the undersigned organizations and individuals, urge all UN member states to end reprisals against anti-corruption human rights defenders, and to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of everyone – including those working to promote and defend the rights of other people and to fight and expose corruption.
Anti-corruption human rights defenders – journalists, members of civil society organizations, whistleblowers and others – play a crucial role in the prevention of and in the fight against corruption and the promotion of human rights.
Over the years, they have been instrumental in investigating and exposing corrupt practices and in demanding transparency and accountability and the protection of human rights.
We observe, however, that those who work to expose corruption are often not recognised as human rights defenders, and their efforts may be invisible to the wider human rights community or seen as separate from or peripheral to human rights work.
We note that the role and active involvement of anti-corruption human rights defenders in anti-corruption efforts has been widely recognized in many international and regional anti-corruption instruments, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) adopted in 2003.
Among other things, UNCAC requires states parties to promote the active participation of anti-corruption defenders, by “respecting, promoting and protecting the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption” (Article 13).
In addition, the political declaration on corruption adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2021 reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to recognize the important role that civil society, academia, the private sector and the media play in the detection, prevention and fight against corruption.
We are seriously concerned about the escalating reports of violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, attacks and persecution of anti-corruption human rights defenders and the impunity following on from this persecution in several states.
Anti-corruption human rights defenders continue to face real risk of physical attack, arbitrary arrest and prosecution simply for exercising their human rights including to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
And states continue to pass laws to restrict access to information while failing to take effective actions to prevent the harassment, intimidation and attacks against those who dare to expose corruption and its impacts on human rights, and to bring suspected perpetrators of the attacks to justice.
We note that the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in her recent report documents several cases of violence, threats, intimidation, harassment, attacks and persecution against anti-corruption human rights defenders.
According to the report, hundreds of defenders all over the world face smear campaigns, criminalization and judicial harassment, and are killed every year for their peaceful work in defence of the rights of others. Very few perpetrators are brought to account for these murders, which only enables the cycle of killings to continue.
We also note that some attacks on defenders are gender-based and that many defenders have been targeted for their work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic or for fighting against corruption affecting their local communities. Women human rights defenders working against corruption are also often attacked not only for what they do but for who they are.
Continuous threats and attacks against anti-corruption human rights defenders
We continue to receive reports of increasing threats and attacks against anti-corruption human rights defenders, including whistleblowers. These constitute clear violations of internationally recognized human rights including to life, freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, access to information and media freedom.
The threats, intimidation, harassment and persecution also amount to a breach of the legal obligations of states under the various human rights treaties to which they are states parties, And we believe it is imperative to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of anti-corruption defenders to ensure the effective promotion and protection of the rights of other people, and to improve the implementation of states’ legal obligations under the various human rights and anti-corruption treaties to which they are parties.
We therefore call on all UN member states to:
Foster a safe and enabling environment, to ensure that anti-corruption defenders are able to freely carry out their activities in full respect of their human rights and in the defence of the human rights of other people and the fight against corruption without fear of reprisals;
Adopt and implement legislative and other measures for the protection of anti-corruption human defenders, if they do not exist, in line with human rights and anti-corruption standards;
Effectively respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of everyone to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including of those working to promote and defend the rights of other people and to fight and expose corruption, in accordance with Article 13 of UNCAC;
End impunity by thoroughly, impartially, independently, transparently and effectively investigating reports of attacks against defenders in their states, and bringing to justice suspected perpetrators, and ensuring access to justice and effective remedies for victims;
Publicly recognize the value of the work of anti-corruption human rights defenders and denounce threats and attacks against them, consistent with the provisions of UNCAC, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
States have obligations to protect defenders working against corruption. (OHCHR)
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, has urged States to find the political will to protect human rights defenders exposing corruption.
“Corruption is fundamentally a human rights issue, and human rights defenders working to prevent it are targeted, even killed, all over the world for their peaceful advocacy,” the UN expert said in a report presented to the Human Rights Council. The report includes details of attacks on journalists, academics, lawyers, medical workers and others for exposing corruption, sometimes in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Corruption is often written off as inevitable or harmless, or as a victimless crime. But it’s none of those things. Every time someone takes a bribe, gives a job to an unqualified relative, or diverts money intended for a hospital or a school to their own pocket, it’s an attack on human rights,” she said.
“They’re often attacked because of their success - governments and businesses are afraid of them and what they might reveal,” Lawlor said.
The report includes practical recommendations for States, based on consultations with human rights defenders, NGOs, academic experts and government officials, on how to better support the work of defenders working against corruption.
It also recommends that States should not only end attacks on defenders but publicly applauds the vital contribution they make to fight corruption and to help build just societies based on the rule of law.
“States have obligations to protect defenders working against corruption. This is vital human rights work. Those doing it should be supported by States, not vilified and attacked,” she said.
Nov. 2022
Governments must embrace and enable social movements as key partners, underlines Clement Voule - UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
Faced with multiple and compounding crises, governments must embrace and enable social movements as essential partners as they ‘build back better’, a UN expert said today.
“In a time of unprecedented global crisis, the world needs new approaches and more inclusive governance,” said Clement Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
Voule, who presented his report to the General Assembly said social movements were at the forefront of efforts to foster social engagement, democratic participation and responsive governance. “As drivers of change, these movements have made invaluable contributions to individual, collective and societal wellbeing,” the expert said.
Voule’s report explained that the Occupy movement fought for more egalitarian socioeconomic policies worldwide, while the #MeToo global movement has empowered victims of sexual harassment and increased calls for accountability and the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to racist policies and widespread, systematic abuse around the world. The youth-led Fridays for Future movement has drawn international attention to climate change, the report said.
“Still, too many States are hindering these movements, through restrictive legislation, harassment against their leaders and responding excessively to large-scale protests, including by declaring emergency or martial law,” the UN expert said.
The Special Rapporteur urged States to treat social movements as partners, recognising the essential contributions they make to the functioning of healthy, prosperous and safe societies.
“Now is a time when their potential is needed most to help combat and overcome the many grave challenges the world faces,” Voule told the General Assembly. He said social movements were crucial actors for the attainment of inclusive and sustainable development, and the 2030 Agenda.
“I am deeply concerned by the growing suppression of social movements by both State and non-State actors. Participants in these movements are being targeted and silenced, unlawfully convicted or tortured for their work in support of the construction of more just and egalitarian societies,” Voule said.
The Special Rapporteur urged governments to guarantee the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association at all times and in all contexts in order to foster the essential contribution of social movements to address contemporary challenges.
“States must create a safe and enabling space, develop inclusive policy processes and develop partnerships with such movements in order to enable members of these movements to effectively advocate for change at every level,” Voule said.

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