Veranstaltungen: Dokumentation

25.7.2017

Panel IV: Corruption and civil society

IRRESISTIBLE? A symposium on the phenomenon of CORRUPTION

Saturday, 17 June 2017, 14.00-15.30

PDF-Icon Panel IV german

Ryhor Astapenia (Ostrogorski Centre, Belarus)
Vitaliy Shabunin (Anti-Corruption Action Centre, Ukraine)
Aram Khaghaghordyan (Hertie School of Governance, Germany)
Moderator: Walter Kaufmann (Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germany)

Audio-Record: Panel 4: Corruption and civil society; June 17, 2017 (© 2017 Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung)


"Fighting corruption is all the fashion in the 21st century" – Panel IV mainly focused on corruption in civil society as well as on civil society organisations fighting corruption.

Need for change on several levels

Three top-flight panellists participated. The first was Vitaliy Shabunin, member of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre in Ukraine. He described the fight against corruption not as a fight against people or as a task to change people. The point was rather to change the rules and get to the root of the problem.
IRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption - Panel IVIRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption (© bpb/Dorothea Tuch)
In his view, Ukraine is on the right track because it is the first country in the world to have set up a public register of unlawful enrichment. The measures implemented with EU support have taken effect and frighten corrupt politicians. Another revolution in Ukraine would not be meaningful, in his view; he rather sees it as a danger because society has been strongly militarized in the wake of the ongoing war in the Donbas region. Another revolution could structurally destroy Ukraine completely, he believes.

According to Shabunin, many people in Ukraine look enviously at neighbouring Belarus, because, as they see it, corruption is fought efficiently there. As a result, they do not necessarily consider democracy to be an optimum form of government.

IRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption - Panel IVIRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption (© bpb/Dorothea Tuch)
A representative from Belarus was one of the panellists to discuss that. Ryhor Astapenia of the Ostrogorski Centre in Minsk described the situation in his home country. Over the past few years, things have developed; the number of arrests made in connection with charges of corruption has significantly gone up; however, civil servants are only called to account in case of more serious corruption offences. Less serious cases are hardly ever punished. Yet here, a “home-made” problem also plays a role: The bureaucratic apparatus in Belarus is so small that even corrupt civil servants are brought back in to keep the administration of the country going.

The third panellist was Aram Khaghaghordyan of the Hertie School of Governance. Khaghaghordyan described corruption as a collective phenomenon rather than a scheme of individuals. He raised the question why so much is going wrong despite numerous control mechanisms in place. He stressed the importance of legal reforms as the most significant step in countries plagued with systemic corruption, also as part of the effort to attract foreign investors and create stability in the process.

Significance of NGOs

In the subsequent plenary discussion, the question was raised whether or not links between local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are necessary and meaningful.
IRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption - Panel IVIRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption (© bpb/Dorothea Tuch)


All three panellists confirmed this, giving several graphic examples. Civil society generates publicity for problems that are previously not perceived as such. An explicit example given was that of a house, the construction of which was subsidized because it was supposed to be a health centre. In the end, there was a pharmacy on the ground floor and banks on all levels above. Civil society organisations then took it on them to explain why that is corruption.

Internal and external pressure on the government is an absolute must, as the example of Ukraine shows, Vitaliy Shabunin said in conclusion. On the one hand, international organisations are not successful without support from local residents; on the other, Ukraine also needed the pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to launch reforms. However, the government currently does not depend on securing the next IMF tranche so that it tries to roll back the reforms.

Summary: Christoph Velling

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