One particularly difficult challenge which societies across the globe have in common is corruption. “We are fighting a battle, all of us, for our states, for our countries, for our nation-state,” said Secretary of State John Kerry at the recent Global Anti-Corruption Summit hosted by the UK.
“Corruption writ large is as much of an enemy, because it destroys nation-states, as some of the extremists we’re fighting or some of the other challenges that we have faced.”
Corruption is one of the world's greatest challenges. It is an abuse of power at multiple levels in both the public and private sectors, and it affects all of us. It destroys citizens’ trust of their governments, undermines economic development, erodes confidence in democratic institutions and prepares the way for trans-national criminal activities.
“By crippling basic functions of the state, like security and justice, corruption creates a frustration and vacuum that violent extremists eagerly fill with false promises of a better deal. That helps explain how Da’esh took root in Iraq and why the Taliban endures in Afghanistan,” wrote Secretary of State Kerry in a blogpost just before the Summit began.
“Until we prioritize the fight against corruption, these heinous groups will continue to prey on grievances and recruit new followers who feel disempowered, disrespected and convinced that the traditional system is rigged against them.”
It is important to note that it takes a lot of courage to stand up against corruption. That’s because of the reality that even if many countries are increasing transparency and tightening banking laws, there will likely be at least one or two nations that may try to attract dirty money by maintaining secrecy in monetary transactions and relaxing their banking laws. So it is up to the rest of the world to ensure there is no safe harbor or impunity for corruption anywhere. It is therefore imperative that the global community – governments, civil society, private sector, and the media - come together to carry forward the momentum built at the Summit and take concrete steps to prevent and fight corruption.
“[Corruption] is a poison that erodes trust, robs citizens of their money and their future and stifles economic growth in the places that need it most,” wrote Secretary of State Kerry. “It is long past time for the international community to treat corruption with the seriousness and attention it deserves.”